Nubuck isn’t for everyone.

But some people really like it. Some love the raw-velvety look and there are others who just love the texture. Perhaps it’s similar to the love one has for a wedding dress; the harder it is to maintain, the more exclusivity it has.

Let’s Get Into The Details

You’re probably familiar with the fact that all leather comes from cowhide. And hide isn’t necessarily the flesh of the cow. Hide is the thick outer layer of a cow’s skin. By the way, if all this is starting to make you feel a little sick, we completely understand – we encourage people to look into vegan/earth-friendly bags as well.

When cowhide is processed for leather products, the hide is split into two layers:

1. The top layer is called top grain.

2. The bottom layer is referred to as split.

leather hide cross section top grain split

And what we’re interested in (for the purposes of this article) is the top grain. Top grain is the durable part of the hide that makes bags last. The bottom layer is usually used for lower-end leather products. Nubuck is simply top grain that has been sanded down to a “velvety finish”. You can tell when it’s nubuck if you rub your hand over it and it leaves a noticeable trail from your swipe.

It’s All About The Feel

nubuck leather close up

Nubuck’s most outstanding characteristic is its comfortable texture. It’s one of those things that you don’t notice visually – but once you touch it, the comfort of nubuck gives a warm and pleasurable feeling. It can be more comfortable to carry around and therefore has a more functional purpose than an aesthetic one.

What To Watch Out For With Nubuck Leather Goods

If it stains or if you spill something on nubuck leather, it can be quite difficult to clean. With full grain leather bags, if you spill something on it and you get to it right away, there’s a good chance you’ll save your bag from staining.

If you wipe nubuck after a spill, whatever you spilled on your bag will likely stain even more. But not to worry! If you ever find yourself in this situation, go to our handbag repair directory to find a repair professional in your area.

Keep in mind: Occasionally, when you get your nubuck bag cleaned, you may lose some of the velvety texture because of the process or the chemicals used to treat the stains.

Are There Nubuck Spray Protectants?

Yes, there are!

Scotchgard™ (by 3M) sells a protectant just for nubuck. Now, you’re probably wondering if this spray will discolor or darken your leather products. The answer is: there’s definitely a chance. Here’s how to use the protectant:

Start by carefully cleaning your bag

The first part of the protecting process is to clean your bag carefully. Dust the surface and make sure it’s dirt and lint free.

Make yourself a workspace

It’s a good idea to lay down paper towels or an old bath towel so that any overspray doesn’t get on your carpet, bed, or an area of your house you want to keep free of protectant. It’s possible that the protectant will discolor carpet and furniture.

Shake, Shake, Shake!

Like with all aerosol cans (spray paint, hairspray, etc.), you have to shake the can vigorously. The mixture has most likely settled since it’s initial canning, and to get a consistent composition of protectant – spend a good 60 seconds shaking the can in every direction imaginable. Don’t just shake it up and down, try rotating your wrists and doing side to side motions.


Be sure to test the spray out on part of your bag that’s not noticeable. If there is internal material that can be tested, or a tassel, or even the bottom of the bag – try testing the spray on those areas first to see if you like the results.


Just like using a can of spray paint, spray the protectant from a distance of six inches from the surface of your bag. You’re going to want to do two light coats instead of one heavy coat. Slowly sweep over the surface of the bag until you’ve covered every square inch of surface.

Where Can You Get It?

If you frequent a cobbler or bag repair shop, the store owner may have some on hand. They may also be able to apply the protectant on the spot. Click on the image below to pick up some of this protectant at

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