How to Clean a Leather Handbag

A good leather handbag makes a great fashion statement. It looks chic and timeless. But as time passes by, the beauty of a leather bag may start to diminish due to dirt and grime. To increase its shelf life and keep it looking brand-new, regular cleaning of the leather bag is extremely important. To many, cleaning a leather bag may seem hard, but it isn’t quite so. With the aid of the right cleaning method and cleaning products, you can ensure that your bag ends up looking fresh and spot-free.

A Handbag

With so many cleaning techniques out there, you may wonder which method works best. You can’t experiment with every cleaning process you see online or find out through your friend. A leather bag can be an expensive investment, and you want to ensure that you clean it the right way. When it comes to cleaning a leather bag, different types require different tactics. You can’t follow the one-size-fits-all rule over here. Keeping this in mind, we’ve covered tried-and-tested cleaning hacks for every type of leather bag. Try these methods once, and we bet you’ll use them every time your bag gets dirty.

Steps to Clean a Genuine Leather Handbag

Things You’ll Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Q-tip
  • Cornstarch or baking soda
  • Cream of tartar
  • Lemon juice

1. Apply Rubbing Alcohol over Ink Spots

Use rubbing alcohol to get rid of ink stains or scuffs from your leather bag. Dip a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and blot the stain. Don’t rub the stain, or else it’ll spread, which will only serve to increase the work you have to do. Once the stain is gone, clean it using a dry, clean cloth.

2. Remove Stains Using Baking Soda/Cornstarch

This is the best solution when it comes to cleaning greasy stains. All you have to do is sprinkle a little bit of cornstarch or baking soda on the affected area. Then rub it gently with a wet cloth. Allow it to sit for an hour or two, or overnight if you have the time to spare. The starch or soda helps absorb the oil. Later, wipe the excess using a soft, dry cloth.

3. Treat Stains with a Mixture of Lemon Juice and Cream of Tartar

Make a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar. To make a DIY paste, mix some lemon juice and cream of tartar in a small bowl and apply to the stained spots. Allow it to sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Then, remove the paste using a wet cloth.

Lemon and tartar cream have bleaching properties that help remove the stains in the first go.

 Steps to Clean a Patent Leather Handbag

Things You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Paper towel, cotton ball, Q-tip
  • Soft cloth
  • Window cleaner
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover

1. Begin the Cleaning Process with Water

Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of water to clean your coated leather bag. Water can help wipe off easily-removable stains like scuffs or fingernail marks. To lift off these light stains, wet a paper towel with water and gently rub it against the marks. If a paper towel isn’t available, you can use a cotton ball or a Q-tip.

2. Use a Window Cleaner for Stains

In case water fails to remove the stains, you’ll need to opt for something more effective and powerful. Use a good-quality window cleaner that usually comes in a spray bottle. If the window cleaner at your home isn’t available in a spray bottle, convert the liquid into one. Gently spray over the stain and wipe it off with a dry cloth.

3. Rubbing Alcohol for Discoloration and Stubborn Stains

Dip a Q-tip or a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and gently buff it over a stubborn stain, such as food blemishes or ink stains.  If the stain remains, use nail polish remover and wipe it away with a paper towel later. Remember that nail polish remover is a harsh substance and may affect the material.

You can also use petroleum jelly instead. However, do keep in mind that petroleum jelly is more effective in removing dye transfer stains.

Steps to Clean a Suede Leather Handbag

Things You’ll Need

  • A soft toothbrush or manicure brush
  • Magic eraser sponge
  • Vinegar or rubbing alcohol
  • Washcloth

1. Stroke the Stained Area with a Brush

Using a clean toothbrush or a manicure brush, gently buff the stained spots on your leather bag. This will help clean out dust, mud stains, or other easy-to-remove stains. Make sure to stroke in the same direction, as this will loosen up the dirt. Do this a couple of times and then go back and forth. Don’t panic if the bag starts to lose its fibers – it’s usually the dirty or dusty ones breaking away.

2. Rub with an Eraser Sponge

The next step is to rub the affected area using a “magic eraser sponger.” You can easily get these erasers from your nearest grocery store. Rub the sponge in a back-and-forth direction over the stain. Do this until the mark shrinks away.

3. Lightly Steam Your Leather Bag

Boil water in a large pot on medium-high heat. Once boiled, remove from the heat. Bring your leather purse close to the steam. This will ease the stains and make them fade away. Afterward, allow your purse to dry and then go over the stains with a soft toothbrush.

4. Try Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol

Slightly dip a washcloth in vinegar or rubbing alcohol and rub it over the stains on your bag. This tactic is great for removing set-in stains of grass, chocolate, ketchup, red wine, etc. Next, go over the stains using a bristled brush. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell. It will go away after some time.

Additional Steps for Cleaning Leather Handbags

1. Wrap Up with a Leather Moisturizer

You can round-off your cleaning process with a good-quality leather moisturizer. After you’ve wiped off the stains, make sure to clean the affected area with a leather moisturizer.

You can clean your entire bag with this leather moisturizer. It will help keep your bag soft and shiny. Apply a little bit of the moisturizer on the bag, and using a soft cloth, gently rub the moisturizer in a circular motion. Do not replace the moisturizer with a body or hand lotion as using a beauty cream or any such products can adversely affect the quality of your leather.

2. Use a Dry Cloth to Remove Excess

Once scrubbed with a moisturizer, your bag will be slightly slippery. To remove the excess moisturizer, gently clean your leather handbag with a dry cloth. Make sure that the fabric is clean and soft. Using harsh, brittle fabric can damage the texture of your bag, so be careful about the type of cloth you clean your bag with.

 Final Thoughts

We understand that you love your leather bag and want to keep it in stellar condition for as long as possible. Regardless of how well we take care of our handbags, they tend to fall victim to spills and stains. In times like these, don’t panic. Keep your cool and use the tips and tricks that we’ve discussed in this blog post clean your leather handbag. No matter what cleaning method you opt for, be sure to use high-quality products, and don’t forget to be gentle and patient all this while!

About The Author

Scroll to Top