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How to Care for Nubuck Shoes

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Are you like some of my friends who freak out a little at the thought of buying nubuck/suede shoes?  They get worried about water stains, scuffing, and dirt.  

I love the luxury and style that Nubuck brings to a shoe so I’m prepared to accept they will need a little maintenance.  Here are my tips on how to care for your Nubuck shoes.

What you will need:

  • Nubuck/Suede Protector Aerosol
  • Soft Bristle Horsehair Brush 
  • Nubuck/Suede Eraser
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Nubuck/Suede Cleaner

Preventative Protection

The first thing to do is to make a preemptive strike – spray your Nubuck shoes with Nubuck protector aerosol before wearing them. If you’ve already worn the shoes, make sure they are clean and dry before you spray.  Evenly and lightly spray the shoes making sure not to oversaturate. It’s best to find a well ventilated area as the spray is rather strong smelling. Place them on cloth or towel and let them dry for several hours, preferably overnight. Repeat the process to ensure maximum protection from water stains and deter dirt from sticking.

Dust and Dirt Removal

Everyday dust and visible dirt should be removed as soon as you notice it.  Use a soft bristle brush in light and swift strokes, the delicate fabric can be quite delicate, make sure you are not too rough.

Water Stains

In the unlikely event of water stains (because you’ve already waterproofed right!) they are fairly easy to remove. Just make sure you clean water with water only! Apply water evenly over all of the nubuck of both shoes (even if only one got wet).  Do this using a spray bottle or sponge, and then blot away the excess moisture with the microfiber towel. Stuff the shoes with paper (not newspaper or anything that can leach ink) to keep them from deforming.  Let them dry completely. Your suede shoes should be evenly colored, albeit perhaps a little darker.

Don’t forget to protect them again after this treatment.

Spot Clean

To clean unsightly marks, non-water spots, and many stains, use a suede eraser.  Nubuck/suede erasers are similar to pencil erasers and you should use them as if the paper if very delicate – use light to moderate pressure and short rapid strokes. Just like with pencil erasers, you will see dirty shards of eraser accumulate as the suede become cleaner.  

Use the “Dust and Dirt” removal technique above, because the eraser is like dirt! Finally protect the whole shoe with the nubuck/suede protector aerosol.

Really Stubborn Stains

If you have a really stubborn stain, the aerosol protector also acts as a great cleaning agent, but I only like to use it in dire situations.  After you’ve cleaned using the brush and the eraser, and there is still a mark, then spray a small amount of the aerosol onto the nubuck and brush with the grain of the fabric.  Do not oversaturate. Then wipe dry with the microfiber cloth. 

And of course finish by repeating the protection step. Always read the instructions on the cleaner!

I recommend buying a suede protector kit , they comes with all the necessary bits. Here are some choices:

https://www.nikwax.com/en-us/products/productdetail.php?productid=260&activity=

https://www.amazon.com/Kiwi-Suede-and-Nubuck-Kit/dp/B002ZG8WR0/ref=sr_1_18_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1533782020&sr=8-18&keywords=suede+shoe+protector

https://www.amazon.com/Jason-Markk-Suede-Cleaning-Kit/dp/B01ANXQ2NC