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How to Clean a Leather Purse?

Just as the condition of men’s shoes says a lot about their personality and lifestyle, the same can be said for a woman’s purse. Whether you are of the belief that you can never have enough purses, or not; you may possibly have a strong bond with one leather purse or maybe a couple that you tend to use most frequently. Even on a daily basis. As with anything else, the more you use your leather purse the more it calls for some good cleaning on a regular basis.

In this article, we will not just share with you some tips on how to clean your leather purse, but will also guide you a little on where and how to start if it’s the first time you’re cleaning a leather purse.

Know your Leather

You’re probably already aware of the fact that there are many different types of leather. Your leather purse is no exception. Getting to know a little about the type of leather your purse is made of, can help you in setting up a correct cleaning routine that not only suits the leather purse you have but is also easy to carry out regularly.

For e.g., full aniline or unfinished leather is open-pore kind of material that easily absorbs any kind of liquid. This results in the leather turning into a darker version of itself when wet. Semi-aniline, on the other hand, or finished leather; is treated and sealed with a top coat finish, which is why liquids tend to gather in small puddles on the surface.

There’s yet another type of leather called pigmented leather which is actually thoroughly sealed with a leather paint which conceals any kind of natural marks or grain that may be visible on the surface. This type of leather is very often used in cars and other vehicles. When you get to know the type of leather purse you have, it’s a given; that you will learn what to avoid when cleaning and even maintaining your leather purse.

For instance, it’s often best to avoid any kind of sun exposure, which many times; leads to the leather cracking up or drying out, or in some cases causing the color to fade.

Another useful tip would be to avoid oil as they tend to dull the leather and may even stain your leather purse. It would be wise to remember that even oily hands touching your leather purse can also ultimately damage it. Yes, this applies to not just oils but lotions and other liquids as well.

Trial and Testing

If you ask anyone who cleans and maintains their leather purses regularly, how they manage to do so, they may share with you their experiences that may have even include a period of trial and testing before they found what works best with their particular leather purse.

It’s always best to run a test on a small, possibly hidden area of your leather purse before you decide to do the whole surface. Especially if you’re new to this or this is your first leather purse. When you have covered the small area, let it dry naturally, away from any direct heat sources or dryers.

If you find the area cleaner than the rest of the leather purse means it works. If any staining, damage or discoloring occurs, you know something’s wrong, in which case you should stop proceeding further.

Speaking of testing, you can even run a small test to find out what type of leather purse you have. Simply by placing a few drops of water on the leather surface. If it absorbs right away, its unfinished leather, if it lingers on it is finished or pigmented leather.

Dirty Details

Inside of leather bag

Now let’s jump right into the dirty details of cleaning your leather purse. Before running to get your cleaners, don’t forget to empty all the pockets of your leather purse and give it a shake upside down. This will loosen any dust or debris that may be stuck or held on the inside of the purse.

Most leather purses allow you to turn the lining outward for a detailed cleanup using a lint roller. If you cannot pull out the lining, use a vacuum; and allow the fabric brush attachment to do the job.

Before going any further, it’s important to establish the kind of dirt or type of stain on your leather purse that needs to be tackled. If you’re dealing with any kind of dried particles, a soft; dry brush can do the trick. You can also use a solution of warm water and dish soap if need be.

This can be applied on the outer surface of the leather purse, using a soft cloth that is dipped into the solution and then shaken a bit to get rid of excess water. Using another clean, damp cloth to wipe off the soap. Next, you can use a towel to dry the surface. Did you know? Warm soapy water can also remove water stains and scuff.

If you’re dealing with something that is oil-based, pre-treatment with a degreaser or dry cornstarch should be done first thing. The remaining stains can be removed by using the classic lightly damp, soft cloth method, as well as some leather cleaning solution according to your leather type.

It is also important to know, at this point; that it’s best to avoid using ammonia or bleach or products containing either of the two to prevent damaging the leather purse surface. As for the water, it’s best to take it easy with excessive usage as well.

After cleaning your leather purse, you often need to condition the leather as well. Much like leather jackets or leather products. Full-Aniline leather especially needs conditioning as the cleaning can expose the leather to cracking or drying. As mentioned above, remember to try any conditioner on a small, inconspicuous area before covering the entire surface.

4. Simply DIY at Home

leather bag

Wouldn’t you agree that leather purses tend to get stained despite you being careful? A brush of the hand or even resting an elbow here and there is enough to create those sometimes subtle and often times noticeable grease marks. With these simple DIYs, you can totally change that for the better.

For ink stains or even scuffs, dab a cotton swab in a bit of nail polish remover you lightly blot the stain. You can even use alcohol instead but be sure to only lightly dab the area or else it could make the stain spread. Keep blotting the area until the stain has gone. Then using a damp cloth, clean the area and dry with a towel.

Sprinkling a little baking soda or cornstarch on an oil or grease stain can help in cleaning the surface in a simple way. All you have to do is rub with a damp cloth and let the cornstarch or baking soda sit overnight or for a few hours. This will help soak up the oil which will then remove the stain, allowing you to wipe off the extra powder with a soft cloth.

By making a mixture of lemon juice and cream of tartar, using equal portions of each. You can remove stains from your leather purse. You can follow the same method as mentioned above using this paste.

Be cautious though, to use this tip only for light colored leather, as the cream of tartar contains a mild yet bleaching effect that wouldn’t be good for any dark or even medium toned leather purse.

Fun Fact:

Did you know that vinyl purses are the easiest to clean, using mild soap and water. Purses made from exotic materials such as snakeskin are not the best DIY cleaning projects to do at home. PLEASE get them cleaned by a professional. This goes for expensive leather purses as well, especially those whose leather type you are unaware of.

While we’re on the subject of fun facts, you must also try to remember that all genuine leather was living hide at one point. So using the wrong cleaner alone can fade or dry out the leather purse. Another point to try and remember is to stay away from synthetic cleaning products including those that are petroleum based.


What cleaner is safe for leather?

Mild moisturizing soap can work just as well as any safe leather cleaner. Using a soft cloth or microfiber cloth, use this soapy solution to clean your leather. Don’t rinse, however, simply buff for a fresh shine.

How do you clean a raw leather purse?

By making a lather of saddle soap and water, apply the lather to the unfinished leather using circular motions. With a dry, soft cloth or sponge, wipe dry and ensure there is no soapy lather left behind. Continue by using a conditioner and work well into the grain of the leather. Keep leather product flexible and naturally dried.

How do you clean stains off leather?

You can remove stains such as made by ink, using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol and rubbing over the area. Allow it to dry naturally and check if the stain is there or not. If the stain is still there, go for a generous amount of non-gel, non-grease nail-polish remover. Leave this on overnight and wipe it clean the next day using a damp cloth.

How do you get a water stain out of a leather purse?

Water stains can be removed by using a solution of warm water and mild dish soap. With a soft, dry cloth; wipe the surface dry. This method is good for water stains as well as scuff removal.

Total Recall

We’ve learned quite a few valuable points from this interesting post.

  • Starting from trying to identify the type of leather purse that needs cleaning.
  • Always starting or testing a small inconspicuous area first, before jumping into cleaning the whole leather purse.
  • You can even use easy to access household items when cleaning a leather purse, starting from the classic warm water and mild cleaning soap.
  • Lastly and perhaps most importantly, never dry leather in front of any heat sources. From blow-dryers to natural sunlight. Your leather should be kept away from all these.
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Lily Rose
Lily Rose
August 7, 2021 7:53 am

Great information, most people do not know that how to clean our leather backpacks or purse. so those how to want to know then must read this informative guide.