Suede and nubuck are made from the underside of animal skin, making them soft and intricate. Suede is a material created by sanding the more delicate inside part of the hide, while nubuck is made by sanding away the tougher, sturdier outside layer of the leather hide.
While nubuck is tougher than suede, both types of leather have a fine outer texture compared to other grains of leather. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure that you adopt appropriate methods for cleaning nubuck and suede leather bags.
You can safely clean a nubuck or suede leather bag by using an appropriate cleaning kit, brushing off dirt and dust, using an eraser to remove any spots or marks, conditioning your bag, and finally drying it using proper techniques.
We’ve created this guide to be suitable for all types of leather bags made of suede or nubuck, whether it be leather gym bags, handbags, backpacks, briefcases, purses, clutches, or anything similar.
1. Get a Suede & Nubuck Cleaning Kit
When it comes to cleaning fine and soft types of leather, we recommend using a cleaning kit dedicated to nubuck and suede. A suitable cleaning kit for suede and nubuck leather bags should include an eraser and a brush. A great cleaning kit that we can recommend is the Angelus Suede & Nubuck Cleaner Kit.
While there are many other great options available in the market, we highly recommend this cleaning kit since it can easily remove soiled spots and marks on your leather bags using the eraser and brush that are included.
These types of cleaning kits are designed to treat suede and nubuck leather, without harming their texture and fiber structure. If you decide against such a kit, you can also use an eraser and a fine horsehair brush, although they may deliver slightly less effective results.
You should definitely consider using a suitable cleaning kit if your suede or nubuck leather bag is branded bag, expensive, or has sentimental value to you.
2. Use a Brush to Remove Dirt & Dust
Before starting the cleaning process, ensure that you remove all of the contents of your bag. This ensures that you don’t damage the items inside and gives you more accessibility.
To start cleaning a suede or nubuck leather bag use a brush to clear away superficial dirt and dust. Use long but firm strokes to brush away the dust outwards (away from you). This also means that you should hold your leather bag in front of you.
We advise focusing on areas with the most visible dust or debris. Brushing away dirt and dust with a firm brush can remove the embedded residue and prepare it for the following process.
Ensure to clean the entirety of your leather bag without missing any spots. You can use back and forth motions to loosen any tough dirt spots on the suede or nubuck leather to remove them.
Remember the brush the front, back, underside, and flap. If the straps are also made of the same material, ensure to cover these areas as well.
3. Use an Eraser to Remove Any Marks & Spots
If you notice any scuff marks on your suede leather bag, you can use the eraser which should be included in the kit. You may also use an eraser if you have one lying around at home, but you must ensure that it’s clean (a non-colored, new one is best).
If you have the option, use the one from the kit. We recommend always using a clean eraser for the job, since if the eraser is dirty, you may spread the scuff marks to other parts of your leather bag.
An eraser can remove minor stains, discoloration, or scuffing and restore the suede texture to normal. To accomplish this, simply rub the eraser over the affected area using small and firm back-and-forth strokes.
4. Use a Suede & Nubuck Cleaning Solution
There are multiple suede and nubuck cleaning solutions that you can use to clear away any tougher dirt stains, scuff marks, spills, and other forms of impurities from your delicate leather bag.
Cleaning Product for Suede & Nubuck Leather Bags
If you’re looking for a professional suede and nubuck cleaner, we recommend using the Angelus Easy Cleaner since it is a great leather cleaner that is designed to treat fine leathers, like the ones found on suede and nubuck bags.
This cleaner is highly versatile and carries safe ingredients that can remove all types of stains, including sharpie and permanent marks, sweat spots, grime, and even dirt from nubuck and suede leather.
Instructions: To use this product on dirty suede or nubuck leather bags, make a solution of the leather cleaner with water (1:10 ratio) and apply it to your leather bag using a soft cloth or sponge. If there are tough stains or spots on the leather, we recommend using the cleaner with a brush and scrubbing them out gently.
Homemade Cleaning Solutions for Suede & Nubuck Leather Bags
You can also use white vinegar or rubbing alcohol to clean suede leather safely. We recommend trying out these homemade solutions on bags made of suede or nubuck leather, that have gotten extremely dirty or dingy over time.
Vinegar and rubbing alcohol can refresh the appearance of leather and brighten it up. When used in moderation, these homemade cleaning solutions are safe for suede and nubuck leather backs. However, we suggest trying it on an inconspicuous part of the leather bag for testing purposes.
Instructions: To use vinegar or rubbing alcohol for suede, pour a small amount of the solution onto a soft, lint-free cloth. Just when the cloth is slightly damp, rub it on the leather suede shoes in light circular motions to remove all persisting signs of dirt. We recommend cleaning only areas on your bag that have visible marks, and not the entire surface.
5. Condition Your Suede or Nubuck Bag
After you have cleaned your suede or nubuck leather bag properly using a suitable cleaner, you should consider conditioning it as well. Conditioning your leather bag will help you add a protective layer and make cleaning in the future much easier.
Since the texture of nubuck or suede leather is much different from other leather types, general leather conditioners will not be suitable for use. We recommend using a conditioning product specifically for suede or nubuck leather bags. It will help make it feel softer and more supple.
Simply apply a suede-friendly conditioner onto a lint-free cloth and gently rub the conditioner into the material. Use gentle pressure and ensure that you follow the application directions of the product carefully.
6. Let Your Suede or Nubuck Leather Bag Dry
After conditioning your leather bag, you should allow it to dry completely before use. Allowing your leather bag to rest after conditioning will allow it to absorb essential moisture and oils.
We recommend drying your suede and nubuck leather bag in a cool, dry, ventilated environment. This ensures that it is protected against the elements and also protects your leather bag from mold and mildew.
To dry your suede or nubuck leather bag, place it on a shaded verandah, balcony, patio, or similar space. Keeping it away from direct sunlight ensures that it doesn’t get damaged.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most frequently asked questions about cleaning suede and nubuck leather bags. If you’d like to have yours added, please get in touch with your questions and we’ll be happy to answer them.
Can I Use Any Type Of Cleaners On My Suede Leather Bag?
To avoid damaging your suede or nubuck leather bag you should avoid using any type of cleaning solutions that aren’t made for suede or nubuck. This means that you shouldn’t use detergents, soaps, or even general leather cleaners.
Using cleaning products that are not specifically designed for fine and soft leathers will end up giving them a polished look, essentially changing the texture of suede and nubuck. On the other hand, general cleaning solutions (detergents and soaps) will damage your leather bag in the long run.
How Often Should I Clean My Suede or Nubuck Leather Bag?
While you should clean your suede or nubuck bag whenever it’s dirty, it’s good to lightly clean it every couple of weeks and thoroughly clean it once every three to four months. If you’re using it more frequently, feel free to clean it more regularly.
Should I Condition My Suede Leather Bag?
Conditioning your suede leather bag is an optional step in the cleaning process. However, we recommend that you condition it, as it adds a protective layer that keeps the leather safe and also allows for earlier cleaning in the future.
Do I Need to Remove the Contents Of My Suede Bag Before Cleaning It?
We highly recommend removing all contents of the leather bag before starting the cleaning process. This allows you to apply the required pressure without potentially damaging the contents.
Co-Founder, Researcher & Writer At Leatherskill
I’m a leather enthusiast who spends most of his free time crafting, researching, and writing about the many facets of this versatile material. Thanks for reading!