How To Clean Nubuck Leather


Nearly 15 years ago, (yup, you read that right) we purchased a sectional that looked like suede, but was actually what is known as Nubuck. I’m not all that familiar with the manufacturing process, but apparently Nubuck is a product that is a result of buffing leather. It’s pretty durable and apparently is more commonly used for clothing than furnishings. Yes, it was expensive at the time, but as I mentioned in this post, some things are worth spending $ on, especially if you’re like me and tend to keep things for longer than most. A LOT longer, but according to Fisherman, not long enough. Did I mention he still has his underwear from middle school?

When we purchased it, it came with a small, soft cleaning brush and something else that I can best describe as an ‘eraser’. Somewhere along the way, I think when we moved this past December, those items went missing. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t try very hard to replace them since I know in a year or less we will be getting rid of the sectional when we move out of our rental, but as you can tell from the photos, it looked like we hosted a convention of incontinent seniors on our sofa. The stains were getting really gross and I just couldn’t ignore them anymore.

Here’s a better view. Pretty disgusting, right??! And look at how the material was even getting shiny with wear and tear.

cleaning suede

cleaning suede

I happened to have a stiff bristle brush lying around that I sometimes use on suede boots, so I figured, why not give it a try? At first, I tried an inconspicuous area and it didn’t take long to figure out this was going to work really well, so I got to work and about a half hour later…

cleaning leather/suede

this is what the end results looked like. Not bad, I must say.

cleaning suede

Not only did the stains come out, but the original color of soft caramel was restored.

suede cleaning

I gotta go. There’s a sale on Depends at Costco. I’m playin’ it safe.

suede furniture cleaning

Please keep in mind this fabric is different than the oh so popular micro suede, which I would not recommend using a stiff bristle brush on (but maybe a soft one would work).

If you have any tips to share on how to clean suede or leather, do share!



  1. Thank you, Doreen! I thought I had the world’s worst nubuck couch situation. You got me totally inspired to give it another go at cleaning. I had previously tried the shoe repair guy “suede eraser”, and also fine sand paper. Definite improvement but not great. Was about to send my beloved out to purchase the grill brush when I was hit by inspiration. I have a rough pumice stick they sell in hardware stores to clean porcelain. It worked absolutely amazing! The couch looks like new. So just another possibility for anyone in the same boat.

    • That’s great to know Mavis! I’m so glad it worked out for you, and thanks for the tip. I have plenty of those pumice stones since we own a cleaning business and nothing compares to those for getting out toilet stains.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. OMG!!! I’ve got a couch exactly like yours and the same thing has happened (having two dogs and all). I’m going home tonight and scrub away. Thanks for the info.

  3. Amazing results guy’s. Well done. I am looking for some guest posters for my 2 cleaning blogs. If you would like to send us on an article please get in touch.

    Thank’s, John

  4. Hi there! I found this blog entry by Googling “shiny nubuck”, and voila!, I saw what looks a lot like my sectional cushions in your photos. I have been ready to give my high end sofa away because it is impossible to keep clean with a husband, kid and a dog all over it, even though I have tried, since day one, to keep it protected with throws. Then what’s the point of having a beautiful nubuck leather sofa, if it’s covered 99% of the time with mismatched throws? Yeah, I wasn’t thinking… Instead of purchasing an expensive new top grain, protected finish sectional I CAN WIPE CLEAN, DUH, I am going to go buy myself a stiff bristle brush (yours looks a lot like a brass grill brush in the picture…?) and see if I can work a miracle like you managed with yours. I have been searching the internet forever to find something that will give me back my original beautiful sofa. So glad I found this! Thank you so much!

    • You’re so welcome Dawn! I think you may be right about the brush. My advice would be to try a soft brush first. That might do the job. If not, then go with a stiffer brush but try it in an inconspicuous area. Don’t rub too hard. There’s no need to and it might ruin the leather.

      Another tip is to maybe go to a shoe repair place. I don’t know where you live and I know they’re becoming harder to find but they might have something used to clean suede.

      Whatever happens I would love it if you came back and let me know!

  5. wow! that’s amazing! I love your couch. Looks so cozy and inviting. I can see why you haven’t gotten rid of it! Great job!~~Angela

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