How to Protect Nubuck Leather? (Stunningly Easy Tips)

How to Protect Nubuck Leather? Photo of a person cleaning nubuck shoes with a white brush.

If you’ve purchased something made from nubuck leather, you’ve got a beautiful new addition to your leather collection. However, you should also know how to protect it properly to make the most out of your investment. Consider this your crash course on caring for nubuck leather from the first day you bring it home.

The most crucial part of protecting nubuck leather is factoring in its high absorbency. Water, dirt, and basically everything else can damage this sensitive kind of leather. You’ll want to know how to prepare your nubuck leather ahead of time and how to protect it from all potential types of damage.

Do you need to protect nubuck leather?

Yes, you definitely need to protect nubuck leather. This is a very sensitive type of leather due to the open fibers that create that alluring and velvety texture. As we mentioned above, it’s naturally very absorbent, which means taking the proper steps to keep it from absorbing the things that can ruin it! We’ll get into just what protecting nubuck leather looks like below.

Does nubuck scratch easily?

Nubuck leather does scratch easily, which is due to its nap and soft texture. Understanding how to prevent and care for scratches that do happen will give your nubuck leather items the best chance at staying scratch-free!

Fun Fact:

One of the most common causes of scratches is your nubuck item rubbing against itself or something else that you might not consider abrasive!

Does nubuck stain easily?

Nubuck does stain easily compared to other types of leather, primarily due to its high absorbency. Any kind of liquid, dirt, or grime will seep into the nubuck leather fibers. You’ll need to act fast and work diligently to keep your nubuck stain-free in many cases!

Can you condition nubuck leather?

You may be thinking: “if nubuck is so sensitive, you must not need to condition it!” This is not the case, actually. You can and should condition nubuck leather regularly to help it keep its soft texture and tensile strength. This is especially important if you wear or use your nubuck leather item a lot! 

The critical detail in conditioning your leather is ensuring you get a product specifically designed for nubuck leather. 

Can you use a leather conditioner on nubuck?

Yes, you’ll want to use a purpose-designed leather condition on nubuck leather. However, shopping carefully for a conditioner specific to nubuck leather is essential. Using a classic leather conditioner (which is for finished leather) will damage and, often, permanently ruin your nubuck! 

Can you use beeswax on nubuck leather?

More and more shoppers are looking at trusting organic and natural products to care for their leather goods. Beeswax is undoubtedly a popular one for its moisturizing and polishing effects! However, according to Wikipedia, you should use this affordable organic polish only with smooth leather.

How do you moisturize nubuck leather?

You’re learning that you can’t grab just anything to moisturize your nubuck leather effectively. So, it won’t surprise you to learn that properly moisturizing will mean buying an off-the-shelf conditioning product for nubuck leather. Most come in sprays since the mist application offers better coverage and workability for nubuck!

Ways to protect nubuck leather

Okay, so now that I’ve got you all concerned about how you should protect your nubuck leather, let’s take a look at the actual care options out there for protecting your leather daily, both short-term and long-term. Here are the focus points and steps:

  • Learn about it
  • Invest in a proper brush
  • Buy a proper cleansing spray
  • Get used to working with a waterproof spray
  • Consider a strain-resistant spray

Learn about it

Strange, perhaps, but essential! If you’re new to caring for nubuck leather, one of the most important things you can do is learn about it! Here’s an article that I wrote on how to clean nubuck leather, where you can learn more about how to maintain it.

Even if you’re used to taking care of traditional leather, nubuck leather is its own thing. You’ll want to take the time to learn about how to care for it so that you aren’t unknowingly weakening or damaging your nubuck leather good.

Invest in a proper brush

Without question, a proper brush is one of the most important tools when you want to learn how to protect nubuck leather. You can find many options out there, so don’t be afraid to try a couple and see which ones work best for you.

Many people enjoy brass-bristled brushes. They are gentle on the leather but still reliable for cleaning. Others enjoy the rubber-tipped options if they naturally want to put more pressure on their leather.

If you aren’t happy with one type, try switching to another. Make sure you always get a safe one that’s recommended for nubuck leather!

Buy a proper cleansing spray

You’ll need to get familiar with cleaning your nubuck leather since it can easily get dirty. There are a lot of sprays out there that will do a great job. While going with DIY products is tempting, you still can’t beat a properly designed nubuck cleaning spray. You’ll see that a little bit of this spray goes a long way.

Nubuck leather does need to be cleaned regularly, but it doesn’t require cleaning literally every time that you use it — this will help carve that time back for you when you compare it to other types of leather.

Get used to working with a waterproof spray

Since nubuck leather has no water resistance, you’ll definitely want to work with a waterproofing spray. I’ve written an article on nubuck and whether it’s waterproof, so feel free to read up on it first.

If this leather gets a lot of exposure to the elements. It would be best to consider using the right kind of waterproofing spray or salve to protect this sensitive leather from water strains and potentially permanent water damage.

Consider a strain-resistant spray

Stains can settle in very quickly and be particularly stubborn to remove when it comes to nubuck. Make sure that you invest in and use a stain-resistant spray. This offers preventative care only. If it gets stained, you’ll still need to remove it!

Best nubuck leather protectors

As you can see, just in what we talked about above, there is no shortage of protectors and products for nubuck leather! Curious about what the best product will be, even when compared to other products for nubuck care? 

Most leather care experts agree that a purpose-designed nubuck cloth or brush will be your best friend and strongest ally when it comes to effectively caring for your nubuck leather. This is why trying and choosing the right kind of nubuck leather cloth/brush will be so important.

Fun Fact:

Did you know that using a brush on your nubuck leather actually restores the nap of the leather? Iowa State University explains that you can simultaneously restore the nap and remove dirt!

Other top products, as you can probably guess now, include:

  • Cleansing sprays
  • Conditioning products
  • Waterproofing sprays
  • Stain remover sprays

Learning how to care for and protect nubuck leather can be challenging if you are new to it. Still, you can easily put a proper toolkit together. Focus on protecting and working with its high absorbency, understand the importance of a purpose-designed brush, and take the time to learn all about this sensitive kind of leather so that you can care for it properly and efficiently!

If you know someone who’s going to find this information helpful with their splurge purchase, share this with them!

Andre from leatherninja.com

Andre is a passionate leatherworker who spends his spare time working with leather. He loves the smell and feel of leather, and he takes great care in selecting the right pieces of leather for his projects. Read more here.