Leather purses can be elegant and fashionable, but over time their beauty can be dulled by dirt and grime. Regular cleaning of your leather purse will not only help keep it looking new, but will also extend the life of the leather. By following a few simple steps, your leather purse will look great and last a long time.
Cleaning a Lightly Soiled Leather Purse
ALWAYS check the tags on your leather purse for manufacturer’s tips and suggestions with regard to cleaning. If the manufacturer’s advice contradicts anything contained in this article, ALWAYS follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
What You Will Need:
- Soft cleaning cloth
- Mild liquid facial or body soap (such as Dove or Neutrogena)
- Distilled water*
- Bowl or small bucket
- Warm water
- Sponge or soft rag
- Dry towel
- Water-based leather protector/conditioner (found in most leather clothing or furniture stores)
*It is best to use distilled water because tap water may contain chlorine and other contaminants which can damage the surface of the leather.
The Cleaning Process:
- Empty all contents from your purse.
- Open your purse wide, unzipping all interior pockets and turn it upside down, shaking vigorously to dislodge all loose dirt and debris.
- Wipe out the interior of the purse with a soft cleaning cloth (dry).
- Mix a few drops of liquid soap with about two cups of distilled water, mixing until suds form.
- Dip your sponge or soft rag into the soapy water and wring out thoroughly, so that it is barely wet.
- Wipe the leather surface of the purse with the damp rag.
- Dry thoroughly with the towel, buffing as you go to restore luster.
- Buff the surface with the forth clean rag to restore luster.
- Treat surface with leather protector/conditioner as per product instructions.
Removing Stains from a Leather Purse
Remember to ALWAYS test a small, inconspicuous area of the purse first before using any of these methods.
Ink stains: Dip a cotton swab in rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and rub it over a hidden area of the purse, such as an inner seam, to make sure it does not remove the dye on the leather. If safe, rub the cotton swab over the ink stain. When the ink is gone, dry with a blow dryer set on its lowest setting. If the test revealed that it is not safe to use the alcohol, you will need to buy a leather ink stain remover.
Dark stains: (i.e. food, blood, etc.): Make a paste of one part cream of tartar to one part lemon juice. Rub paste on the stain and leave it on for 10 minutes. Remove the paste with a damp rag and moisturizing soap, as described above for general cleaning. Buff the leather dry with a soft cloth or towel.
Grease stains: Simply wipe stain from the leather using a dry cloth. Do not apply water to the grease stain.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Avoid placing your leather purse in direct sunlight as this will dry the leather and cause it to fade and/or crack.
- If you are using a sponge to clean your leather purse, opt for natural (non-colored) sponges. (the dye may rub off of colored sponges).
- Do not expose your leather purse to excess moisture or water as this may damage the leather.
- Avoid using any type of harsh cleaners or abrasive cleansers your leather purse as these will cause damage to the surface.
- NEVER use any kind of oils (such as mink oil), polish, or any product containing waxes or silicone (including many car care products) on your leather purse as it may damage the leather and leave it feeling sticky.
- Generally, it is not good to use saddle soap, alcohol, varnish, or ammonia-based cleaners (i.e. Windex) or bleach on leather as they may be too harsh, causing serious damage or discoloration.
- Leather does occasionally need to be replenished and reconditioned. Although there are products on the market for this, you might try mixing 1 part distilled white vinegar with 2 parts linseed oil. Shake well and apply to leather in circular motion. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then buff with a soft cloth. A second buffing may be necessary.
- NEVER use baby wipes or any other alkaline cleaner on your leather purse as it may damage the finish.
- Remember, if you have any doubt as to the proper way to clean your leather purse, do not hesitate to bring it to a professional specializing in leather cleaning.