How To Clean A Leather Handbag

So, you’ve got yourself a beautiful leather handbag, but now you’re wondering how to keep it looking its best. Well, fear not, because in this article, we will guide you through the process of cleaning a leather handbag. Whether it’s a small stain or a general dirt buildup, we’ve got you covered with some simple and effective techniques that will restore your handbag to its former glory. Say goodbye to smudges and hello to a pristine leather accessory that will turn heads wherever you go. Let’s get started!


Gather the necessary materials

Before you begin cleaning your leather handbag, make sure you have all the necessary materials at hand. You’ll need a soft cloth, a leather cleaner, a leather conditioner, a leather polish, a leather protectant, baking soda, tissue or cloth for stuffing, and a breathable dust bag for storage.

Identify the type of leather

It’s important to know the type of leather your handbag is made of before cleaning it. Different types of leather require different cleaning methods, so check the manufacturer’s label or consult with a leather expert to determine the best approach for your specific handbag.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions

To ensure you clean your leather handbag safely, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They may provide specific recommendations or warnings regarding the cleaning process, products to avoid, or any special care instructions unique to your handbag.

Routine Maintenance

Remove dust and dirt regularly

To prevent build-up of dust and dirt, which can scratch or damage the leather, it’s important to regularly remove them from your handbag’s surface. Use a soft cloth or a microfiber cloth, lightly wipe the bag to remove any dust or dirt particles.

Use a soft cloth for light stains

For light stains or spills, a soft cloth dampened with water can often do the trick. Gently blot the stain until it lifts, being careful not to rub vigorously, as this may damage the leather.

Apply leather cleaner for deeper stains

If you encounter deeper stains or stubborn marks on your leather handbag, it’s time to bring out the leather cleaner. Apply a small amount of the cleaner to a clean cloth and gently rub it onto the stained area. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and always spot test in an inconspicuous area first.

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Removing Stains

Dealing with ink stains

Ink stains on leather can be particularly stubborn, but they can be removed with the right technique. Dab a cotton swab or a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol onto the ink stain until it lifts. Avoid applying excessive pressure, as it may cause the ink to spread. Once the ink is removed, clean the area with a leather cleaner and condition the leather afterward.

Treating oil and grease stains

Oil and grease stains can be a challenge to remove from leather, but with the right approach, they can be tackled. Start by blotting the stain with a clean cloth to absorb as much of the oil or grease as possible. Then apply a small amount of mild dish soap to a damp cloth and gently clean the stained area. Rinse the cloth with clean water and remove any soap residue. Allow the leather to dry naturally and condition it afterward.

Removing water spots

Water spots can leave unsightly marks on leather, but they can be treated. Dampen a clean cloth with distilled water and gently wipe the water spot, blending it into the surrounding area. Avoid using excessive water, as it may cause the leather to warp or discolor. Allow the leather to dry naturally and condition it afterward.

Handling food and beverage stains

Food and beverage stains should be addressed as soon as possible to have the best chance of successful removal. Blot the stain with a clean cloth to absorb any excess liquid. Then, using a mild dish soap diluted with water, gently clean the stained area using a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse the cloth with clean water and remove any soap residue. Allow the leather to dry naturally and condition it afterward.

Addressing mold and mildew

Mold and mildew can be a serious problem and require immediate attention. Begin by removing as much of the mold or mildew as possible using a soft brush or cloth. Mix a solution of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol, and gently scrub the affected area using a soft cloth. Wipe away any residual moisture and allow the leather to air dry. Once dry, condition the leather to restore its softness and prevent future mold or mildew growth.

Conditioning and Moisturizing

Choose a leather conditioner

To keep your leather handbag looking its best, you’ll need to regularly condition and moisturize the leather. Choose a high-quality leather conditioner specifically formulated for your type of leather. Make sure the conditioner is free from harsh chemicals or additives that can damage the leather.

Apply conditioner according to instructions

Before applying the conditioner, ensure that the leather is clean and dry. Take a small amount of conditioner on a clean, soft cloth and apply it in gentle, circular motions. Pay extra attention to areas that may be more prone to drying out, such as corners or creases. Allow the conditioner to penetrate the leather for the recommended amount of time, as specified on the product’s instructions.

Buff and dry the handbag

After allowing the conditioner to penetrate the leather, use a clean cloth to buff the handbag’s surface gently. This step helps to remove any excess conditioner and restore the leather’s natural shine. Allow the handbag to air dry completely before using or storing it.

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Polishing and Protection

Select a leather polish

If you want to give your leather handbag an extra shine or if it has minor scratches, using a leather polish can help. Choose a polish that matches the color of your handbag and is specifically designed for leather. Avoid using shoe polish or any products that contain wax, as they can damage the leather’s surface.

Apply polish using circular motions

To apply the polish, take a small amount on a clean cloth and gently rub it onto the leather using circular motions. Focus on the areas with scratches or dullness, paying attention to blend the polish evenly. Avoid applying too much pressure or too many layers of polish, as it can lead to a sticky or discolored surface.

Allow the polish to dry

Once you’ve applied the polish, allow it to dry completely. The drying time may vary depending on the type of polish used, so refer to the product’s instructions for guidance. Avoid touching or rubbing the handbag until the polish has fully dried to avoid smudging or transferring the polish onto other surfaces.

Protect the bag with a leather protectant

To prolong the life of your leather handbag and protect it from stains or water damage, consider applying a leather protectant. Choose a protectant that is suitable for your type of leather and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Apply the protectant evenly to the entire surface of the handbag and allow it to dry completely before use.


Identify the cause of odor

If your leather handbag has an unpleasant odor, it’s important to identify the cause before attempting to deodorize it. Common culprits can include food spills, mold or mildew growth, or general accumulation of sweat and dirt. Understanding the source of the odor will help you determine the most effective deodorizing method.

Use baking soda to absorb odors

Baking soda is a natural and effective deodorizer that can help eliminate unpleasant smells from your leather handbag. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda inside the bag and leave it overnight. The baking soda will absorb the odors. In the morning, gently shake out the baking soda, ensuring that all residue is removed.

Consider professional odor removal

If the odor persists after attempting deodorizing methods or if it is particularly strong or offensive, it may be best to seek professional help. Professional leather cleaners have specialized equipment and expertise to remove stubborn odors effectively and safely. Consult with a reputable leather cleaner to address the issue promptly.

Storage and Care

Clean the handbag before storage

Before storing your leather handbag, it’s important to clean it thoroughly to remove any dirt, dust, or stains. Follow the appropriate cleaning methods mentioned earlier to ensure the handbag is as clean as possible before being put away.

Stuff the bag with tissue or cloth

To maintain the shape of your leather handbag while in storage, stuff it with tissue paper or cloth. Avoid using newspaper, as the ink may transfer onto the leather. The stuffing will help the bag retain its shape and prevent it from developing wrinkles or creases.

Store in a breathable dust bag

It’s best to store your leather handbag in a breathable dust bag or a pillowcase. This will protect the bag from dust, dirt, and potential scratches. Avoid using plastic bags or airtight containers, as they can trap moisture and promote the growth of mold or mildew.

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Avoid extreme temperature and humidity

When storing your leather handbag, make sure to keep it away from extreme temperatures and humidity. Exposure to high heat or moisture can cause the leather to warp, crack, or develop mold. Choose a cool, dry place for storage, and avoid storing the handbag in areas such as basements, attics, or directly exposed to sunlight.

Seeking Professional Help

When to consult a professional

There may be occasions when it’s best to seek professional help for cleaning your leather handbag. If you are unsure about the type of leather, if the stains or odors persist after multiple attempts, or if the handbag has suffered significant damage, it’s advisable to consult a professional leather cleaner. They have the necessary knowledge and expertise to handle delicate or complex cases.

Finding a reputable leather cleaner

When selecting a professional leather cleaner, it’s important to do proper research to find a reputable and trustworthy service provider. Seek recommendations from friends or family, read online reviews, or consult with local luxury stores for their preferred leather cleaning services. Ensure the cleaner has experience in handling leather handbags and uses safe and effective cleaning methods.

Preventing Damage

Avoid contact with sharp objects

To prevent scratches or tears on your leather handbag, avoid contact with sharp objects. Be mindful of where you place the bag, especially in crowded spaces or when in contact with rough surfaces. Handle the handbag with care to ensure its longevity and pristine condition.

Keep the handbag away from direct sunlight

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause the color of your leather handbag to fade and the leather to become dry and brittle. Avoid leaving your handbag in direct sunlight for extended periods. When not in use, store it in a shaded area or protect it with a cloth or dust bag.

Use a leather conditioner regularly

Regularly using a leather conditioner is an essential step in preventing damage to your handbag. Conditioning the leather helps to keep it soft, supple, and moisturized, preventing it from drying out or cracking. Make conditioning a part of your routine maintenance to maintain the longevity and beauty of your leather handbag.

Tips and Tricks

Perform a patch test

Before using any cleaning or conditioning products on your leather handbag, it’s always advisable to perform a patch test. Choose an inconspicuous area to test the product, such as the interior lining or a hidden corner. Apply a small amount of the product and check for any adverse reactions, such as discoloration or damage. If no negative effects occur, you can proceed with confidence.

Use a soft brush for stubborn stains

Sometimes, stubborn stains may require a little extra effort to remove. In such cases, a soft brush can be useful in gently scrubbing the stained area. Use light, circular motions to avoid damaging the leather. Remember to always follow up with a leather cleaner and conditioning to restore the leather’s natural look and feel.

Avoid using excessive water

Water can be damaging to leather if used in large amounts or excessively. When cleaning your handbag, it’s important to avoid using excessive water or soaking the leather. Only use dampened cloths or minimal water to prevent discoloration, warping, or other water-related damages.

Remove hardware before cleaning

If your leather handbag has hardware such as metal buckles, zippers, or chains, it’s best to remove them before cleaning. This will prevent any potential damage to the hardware or the leather when cleaning or conditioning the handbag. Take extra caution when removing and reinstalling the hardware to prevent any scratches or accidents.

Cleaning and caring for your leather handbag doesn’t have to be intimidating. By following these comprehensive steps and tips, you can ensure that your handbag remains in excellent condition for years to come. Remember to always check the manufacturer’s instructions and, when in doubt, consult with a professional leather cleaner for guidance. Enjoy using and flaunting your beautifully maintained leather handbag!


Mila Brooks

My goal for Go Girl Bags is to provide all of my site visitors with a trusted quality experience. Going down the rabbit hole of frustration trying to find the perfect bag for all you needs is not any fun. My researched information not only about bag looks, but also quality of materials and other aesthetics you may not have thought about will help you make a better informed decision. Thank you.

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