Can You Polish Nubuck Shoes? Mystery Solved!

Written By Nawar

Your day went great until you found stains all over the precious shoe!

Now you get worried as you have never polished nubuck  before.

And after researching for a few days, I finally sorted some crucial points that may come in handy for you

So, Can you polish nubuck shoes?


Yes, you surely can polish nubuck shoes. As a matter of fact,  there are multiple ways to polish them. Starting from DIY hacks to applying nubuck polishing products. Although, it’s better to keep in mind a few tips and tricks before you start polishing for real.

Want to know more? Then keep on reading as I will be sharing them all.

How To Polish Nubuck Shoes

Polishing nubuck shoes is very easy. Just follow these 3 simple steps and your shoe will shine all day long.

  1. Gently rub all the bags of dust with a suede brush/Eraser.
  2. Use a saddle soap and a dry cloth(dipped in warm water) to clean your shoe. Then leave it to dry for 20-25 minutes.
  3. Finally, after the shoe is dry and crisp, use a Nubuck Leather protector to spray it entirely.

You may also like Can You Wax Nubuck Boots,

Are Nubuck And Suede The Same Thing?

No, they are not the same thing. They do come from the same origin. Nevertheless, they have been crafted in completely different ways. This brings out two different types of leather, Nubuck and Suede.

Nubuck and Suede are both similar types of leather. It’s due to the leather hide they are sanded from.

Leather hides have two sides. The upper side is smooth and shiny, whereas the lower side or the opposite side is rough and dull-looking.

When you scrape off the upper side, you would end up having thicker but rough leather. This leather is named Nubuck.

For suede, the inner layer of the hide needs to be scraped off. Only then, you can have a thinner version of nubuck. Which is basically named suede.

It’s true nubuck and suede do look pretty similar. In texture and in color.

That’s why you can use the same suede cleaning spray to clean nubuck. And vise versa.

Not just cleaners or polishers, but the same case applies for DIY methods as well.

Also, follow our guide to know Are Nubuck Boots Good for Snow,

Difference Between Polishing And Cleaning


The words polishing and Cleaning may have certain meanings in the dictionary. However, when it comes to removing dirt or wiping shoes to shine, the meaning is slightly different.

Polishing or the word polish is used when you use sprays like waterproofing spray, leather polishing sprays. That gives the final touch on the shoe.

Making it shiny, protected, and ready for day-long wear.

Cleaning on the other hand means brushing off all specks of dirt to make the shoe look fresh and new.

You may also like to read: Do Nubuck Shoes Stretch,

4 Reasons Why Polishing Nubuck is Necessary

In one word, you polish for protection. Against what? Against a few factors, that affect your nubuck heavily. I have listed down 4 must-know reasons why polishing is needed.

1. Color Fades Easily


The upper part of the nubuck is rough and sensitive. Due to the absence of the smooth wax layer, the color of the skin quickly fades away. Especially when taken under bright sunlight.

So to keep the skin color locked, you polish your nubuck shoe to look as bright and colorful as it was before.

Check out our separate post Can I Dye Nubuck Leather.

2. Stretching Beyond Control

The skin isn’t only sensitive to light. The soft material loses itself too fast when it comes in contact with water.

In conclusion, the more you wear them on rainy days, the further it’s likely to stretch.

It only means you can wear them on sunny days. Now, this sounds completely illogical. You can’t possibly check the weather forecast every time before taking your shoes out.

Only with polishing, you can keep the upper protected from rain and any source of water.

3. Cracking Fast And Often


Even without the presence of light or water, the nubuck shoe seems to crack itself.

The soft material is not tough enough to withstand strong pressure or movement. So, they end up cracking now and then.

Just with a bit of polishing and waxing, the skin gets enough strength to stay put while walking or running fast.

Also read, Shoe Cream vs Shoe Polish | Find Out the Difference.

4. Layers of Dust Cover

Dust or dirt falls on all shoes. In the case of Nubuck, the dirt not just falls, they settle.

It becomes difficult to remove them in an instant. After all, they aren’t as smooth as the usual leather.

WIth proper spraying and polishing, you can make the upper smooth and protected from dust sticking on the surface.

DIY Hacks to Polish Nubuck Shoes

There are multiple DIY hacks that you can find on the Internet.

However, not all are effective and easy to follow.

So after trying the hacks myself, I listed the 3 best DIY techniques that will make your life easy and budget-friendly.

  • Use a regular eraser instead of expensive suede erasers.
  • Replace the costly suede brush with a toothbrush
  • Instead of saddle soap, you can use shampoo or liquid soap
  • Use Alcohol or a few drops of vinegar which will do the job of leather protector spray.

Now you might ask which is better? To use DIY products or to use specialized kits from stores?

Well, it depends. In some cases like waterproofing and heavy protection, the kits from stores work better and faster.

Where else, the DIY products will help for long-term protection.

In addition, these items will come in handy, especially when you don’t have the right kit in your home. Or when you find the waterproofing sprays out of your budget.

Things to Know Before Polishing Nubuck Shoes

Nubuck Shoes have very sensitive skin. If you recall, you might remember how fast the upper reacts with almost anything.

It doesn’t just turn dirty or muddy. It completely changes its form.

Surprisingly, my precious nubuck hasn’t changed at all. How? It’s due to a few great tips that I followed on a regular basis.

Although there are a bunch of tips out there. But not all are needed or effective enough to protect your shoes. So what are they?

  • Every two days a night, before sleeping. Take your shoes out and rub them with a clean rug.
  • On a weekly basis, apply the leather protector spray for extra protection all through the week.
  • If your shoes are all wet, make sure to leave them to dry all night long. (not near the stove, the heat may harm the upper)
  • Use lukewarm water, instead of cold water to clean your shoes.
  • Avoid exerting too much pressure while brushing off the dust.
  • Follow the steps recommended above on your weekends only.
  • Always clean your tools, as in the brushes, erasers, before you start cleaning.
  • Keep your nubuck shoes away from fire or extreme heat.
  • Allow the shoes to breathe by keeping them in open spaces.
  • It’s best to avoid using a washing machine for cleaning nubuck.
  • Always polish your shoe after you are done cleaning thoroughly.

Final Words

Nubuck shoes are surely fashionable. However, polishing them is surely challenging. I know, since I have been in the same phase.

Just the way, my tips, and tricks helped me overcome the challenges. Hope it was the same case for you too.

So what are you waiting for? Start polishing and share your experience in the comments below. Best of luck.

About The Author
Since she was a child, Nawar always had a fascination towards her shoes. There was not a time, she stopped researching or experimenting DIY methods on her precious shoes.As she continued growing up till now, her passion and her love towards shoes attracted this awesome place to work in.Now, her expertise and knowledge isn’t only helping herself but also the whole wide world we live in.


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