Sofas in nubuck leather: how to choose, care and clean

Nubuck leather sofas are much desired: but how do the right maintenance?

Nubuck leather sofas are much desired: elegant, refined and outstanding, many people would like to buy a sofa upholstered with this special type of leather. However, half truths and false myths confuse matters when considering the use of leather for furniture.

In this article we want to tell the whole truth about nubuck leather sofas: the types of leather, the visible and invisible differences, maintenance and cleaning and products available to help protect them. In other words, a vademecum/guide to help you understand whether this type of upholstery is what you want for your sofa.

DENVER nubuck leather sofas –  RENEE 677
DENVER nubuck leather sofas – RENEE 677

A nubuck sofa: stunning good looks

Nubuck is the name given to real leather that has been processed in a particular way. We want to underline this statement because there are several materials on the market that simulate the nubuck effect on fabrics or technical materials that are not real leather. This greatly affects the price of the articles.

The distinguishing feature of nubuck leather is the way the cattle skins are processed: only the best part of the skin is used, approximately 1.3/1.5mm thick. The skins are pure aniline vat dyed and then lightly buffed by hand to create a slight nap, producing the velvet-like surface typical of nubuck leather. The result is extremely attractive and nubuck leather is truly elegant upholstery that highlights the shape of sofas. Doimo Salotti has three different colour charts for nubuck leather:

Ulissa leather is pure nubuck with no surface re-finishing. Rachele and Renee leathers are lightly treated with wax, an aniline undercoat and 3M Scotchgard™ to protect the leather from watery or oily stains. The fact that nubuck is so natural, and the type of processing it undergoes, give it aesthetic charm but also make it rather delicate.

SLY nubuck leather sofas – ULISSA 967
SLY nubuck leather sofas – ULISSA 967

Pros and cons of nubuck upholstered sofas

Such refined good looks are not achieved without some compromise in terms of practicality. Nubuck sofas are delicate, and just because the surface has a ‘buffed velvety effect’ it does not stand up well to watery or oily stains.

To preserve its good looks, a nubuck sofa needs to be used and cleaned with special care. The most important rules for normal use are given below:

  • never expose nubuck sofas to direct sunlight or sources of heat, including halogen lamps

  • avoid contact with fabrics that could easily release colours, for example denim

  • contact with newspaper ink can also stain a nubuck sofa

  • to preserve the velvet effect do not use oils or detergents of any kind on the leather

And if the sofa should get stained?

As mentioned above, the surface of some nubuck leather is treated with 3M Scotchgard™, which tends to affect the velvety finish of the leather slightly, but provides greater protection against nubuck leather’s arch enemy, watery or oily stains. However, such protection is not as effective as, for example, a stainproof fabric, so use and clean with great care in any case.

STILE LIBERO nabuck leather sofas – RACHELE 667
STILE LIBERO nabuck leather sofas – RACHELE 667
EVOQUE nabuck leather sofas – RENEE 677
EVOQUE nabuck leather sofas – RENEE 677

How to clean a nubuck sofa

  • dust with a soft cloth or special brushes

  • never press heavily to remove stains; it will only make them penetrate the leather even more

  • do not use ordinary detergents, only special products for cleaning suede leather

Doimo Salotti provides a CARE KIT with every nubuck sofa. This is a box containing two special cleaning products and a soft microfibre cloth. Nubuck Cleaner is used for gentle, effective cleaning that preserves the velvet effect of nubuck leather. Nubuck Protector is used to protect from watery, oily or alcohol stains and should be used regularly twice or three times a year. When using these products for the first time we strongly recommend testing them on a hidden part of the sofa to check that the effect is satisfactory.

How use Doimo Salotti Care kit

nubuck care kit

In conclusion, nubuck leather sofas need more care than other types of upholstery, but with the right maintenance and proper use they will keep their beauty and elegance over time. Bear in mind also that a slightly vintage, lived-in effect makes your leather sofa unique.

Cleaning kit nubuck leather

Not convinced?

After reading this article you’re not convinced that nubuck leather is the type of upholstery you want for your sofa? Well, our range of upholstery includes Erika, a fabric that imitates the nubuck effect: in polyester, it is hand-washable in 30° water.

March 2019
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