Carl Friedrik has a new look

How to care for nubuck

Published 12 months ago

Panoramic view of Tuscan hilltop town with greenery and blue skies

Nubuck might be less well-known than other types of leather, but unique physical characteristics make it a natural choice for designing elegant bags and accessories.

For you, it’s a big plus that nubuck leather care is, well, pretty straightforward. Certainly a lot easier than doting on your latest exotic plant purchase.


We'll dive into the specifics of cleaning and caring for nubuck below.

Man holding black nubuck leather bag looks out of window in trendy apartment

Why is nubuck leather care important?

We should start by stating that nubuck is an extremely long-lasting leather. Durability stems from the fact that it’s made by sanding down the toughest cross-section of an animal’s hide: the outer layer (or, in scientific terms, the full-grain layer). 


While nubuck’s hardiness is impossible to dispute, a few susceptibilities remain. For example, the act of sanding down full-grain leather to produce nubuck gives the material a high degree of permeability. This is both a pro and a con. Breathability is a big plus when it comes to clothing and footwear accessories. However, this porousness also makes nubuck slightly more prone to oil and grease stains. 


Sanding is what creates the fine fibres that constitute nubuck’s velvety surface, often referred to as the ‘nap’. However, the fineness of the nap does mean surface scratches can appear after sustained use. 


Lastly, the signature softness of the nap can gradually wane over time without semi-consistent care, becoming flat and shiny. 


The good news is that caring for nubuck leather — and resolving the above issues — is fairly straightforward. Meaning there’s no reason why your favourite nubuck bag, loafers or boots can’t stay in pristine condition for a long time.

Man wearing blue coat and grey nubuck backpack looks back, with black car in background

How to care for nubuck leather

Most nubuck leather care is achieved with a simple nubuck brush. These softly-bristled brushes are widely available and can be used to clean and ‘re-fluff’ nubuck. 


To remove light scratches and keep the nap looking fresh and raised, simply apply the brush in a circular motion to the affected area(s). Gradually you’ll see the surface of your nubuck product — whether it’s a piece of furniture or bag — return to its original state. It’s worth doing this straightforward task fairly regularly to keep nubuck accessories in prime condition. 


While nubuck has a fair degree of water resistance, you can make it less susceptible to the elements with the help of a waterproofing spray. It’s important the spray you use is nubuck-friendly, as the formula (and effectiveness) will vary depending on the leather. Treat 2-3 times yearly for extra protection in wet and cold months. 


Similar to how moisturiser replenishes your skin, leather also requires conditioning agents to nourish fibres and retain flexibility. Nubuck conditioner sprays lubricate fibres, helping to rejuvenate the appearance of nubuck products. Again, we suggest applying 2-3 times per year. Remember to always spot-test on a concealed part of the product, as these conditioners can darken nubuck.

Elegant Carl Friedrik small weekend bag made from nubuck

How to clean nubuck

Cleaning nubuck leather is a task you can comfortably do at home, with the exact process differing slightly depending on the extent of the stain. 


A basic nubuck leather care kit includes a nubuck-specific brush, eraser and cleaner for the toughest stains.

  1. Blot surface. Begin by blotting the affected area with a damp microfibre or nubuck-specific cloth. This should help to remove surface dirt. Avoid using heat to dry the surface, leave it to air dry overnight 
  2. Brush surface. Apply a soft-bristled nubuck brush to the surface in a circular motion to lift additional dirt from the nap. No more than a few seconds on each part of the nubuck 
  3. If required, apply a nubuck cleaner or eraser. Tougher stains can require the application of nubuck cleaner. Follow the instructions closely and always patch-test on a concealed area before cleaning the rest of your product. Nubuck erasers are a final resort for deep, embedded stains. It’s important to apply them very gently, as they can alter the texture of the nubuck
  4. Revive surface. Leave the product for 24 hours. The next day, brush the nubuck in a soft, circular motion to revive the nap

Rover collection

If you’re convinced by the redeeming qualities of nubuck and want to invest in a top-tier nubuck bag, look no further than the Rover collection


Our Rovers are designed to support modern travellers. From a contemporary tote bag with reimagined accessibility to a sleek backpack made for moving through the city. Each Rover embraces innovative functionality to improve how you get from A to B. 


Made from premium chrome-free nubuck, the bags favour a pared-back aesthetic that draws attention to the materials — so you can bring a touch of finesse to your daily pursuits.

Man leans on car and faces camera with grey nubuck weekend bag under his arm

Takeaway

Understanding how to take care of nubuck leather is vital to keeping your product in top condition over an extended period of time. 


At the very least, regular brushing with a soft-bristled brush will ensure the surface retains its velvety, napped texture and cleanse it of surface dirt. 


Interested in learning more? Check out our piece on nubuck leather or dive deeper into the differences between nubuck and suede.

How to take care of nubuck leather?

+

Regularly applying a nubuck brush to the surface helps to keep napped fibres fresh and upright by removing dirt that has accumulated.

What is the best way to clean nubuck leather?

+

Start by reaching for a trusty nubuck brush, which should remove the surface dirt. For tougher stains, the application of a nubuck-friendly eraser or nubuck cleaner may be required.

How do you maintain nubuck leather?

+

There are a number of things you can to do maintain nubuck leather, including regular brushing, waterproofing and treating your product with a waterproof spray. Ensure all these tools or treatments are nubuck-specific. What works for one leather might not work for another.