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How To Clean Leather Bags

Leather handbags past their prime? Learn how to clean a leather bag and tips for protecting and cleaning leather bags with these handy steps.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

How To Clean Leather Bags

Leather handbags are a girl’s best friend … until they become scuffed or stained. Rather than throw your favourite accessory in the bin, follow these tips on protecting and cleaning leather bags to help them last longer.

Use a fabric marker or coloured shoe polish to cover scuffs on leather handbags instead of replacing them. Test it on a hidden area first to check the colour.

How to clean a leather bag

The first rule for how to clean leather handbags is to be gentle. If the stain won’t come out after you’ve cleaned the bag thoroughly, you’re best off consulting a professional.

To have a go at home first, follow these steps:

  1. Empty your bag

  2. Use a lint roller or a vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment to remove loose dirt

  3. Use a leather cleaner and a soft cloth to wipe over the bag. If you don’t have leather cleaner then you can dip a clean, lint-free cloth into warm, soapy water and gently wipe the bag with it

  4. Towel dry the bag immediately afterwards. Dab, do not rub, the surface

  5. Use a clean, dry cloth to apply a small amount of leather protective cream to the bag

  6. Gently rub the cream into the leather (move with the grain) until it is absorbed

  7. Leave the bag overnight before using it again

Cleaning Tip: If you find scuff marks on your leather bags then use a dyed protective cream or fabric pen to cover them up. Always test in a small area first.

Cleaning leather bags: Dos and Don’ts

A leather bag needs a bit of TLC every now and then to stay in good shape, so learning how to clean leather bags and how to condition them is a good idea.

  • DON’T use too much water. Leather and water don’t mix particularly well, so wipe surface water off as quickly as you can once you’re done cleaning leather bags.

  • DON’T use ammonia or bleach. These can stain leather so avoid them, and any cleaning products that contain them. If in doubt, use a specialist cleaner.

  • DO treat your bags regularly. Prevention is better than cure so treat your leather bags with a good-quality leather cream every 2-3 months to keep it supple.

  • DO preserve the shape. Stuff leather handbags with scrunched newspaper when you’re not using them so they don’t lose their shape.

  • DO protect your bags from dust. Use a dust cover to protect bags in storage. You can also use a clean pillowcase if you don’t have a dust cover.

  • DON’T use body creams on leather. Body lotion, hand cream and moisturiser can cause unwanted grease stains. Avoid touching your bag straight after moisturizing.

  • DO use specially formulated products. Leather needs special care so invest in a good quality cleaner and avoid using cleaners for other materials, like suede.

Cleaning leather bags doesn’t have to be hard, you just need to remember to show your prized purses a little love on a regular basis to avoid any big cleaning tasks.

Plus, similar leather cleaning guidelines apply to leather chairs and furniture too! Take a look:

  • Clean and treat leather bags regularly to keep the material supple

  • Avoid saturating with water or using harsh chemicals when cleaning leather bags

  • Use leather protection creams to help you bags last for longer

  • Stuff leather bags with paper and cover with a dust cover when not in use

Originally published