How to Clean A Leather Purse or Bag

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Many people own leather, but a lot of people don’t know how to clean leather. Cleaning leather needs to be done correctly, or you risk damaging your leather purse, boots, jacket, etc. Luckily, leather doesn’t need to be cleaned as often as other materials, like cotton or wool. 

However, when it comes time to clean a leather purse, you want to make sure you know exactly how to do it. That’s where I come in! Today we’re talking about how to clean a leather purse inside and out. And you can use these cleaning tips for cleaning leather bags as well! 

So grab your leather purse or bag, and let’s get to work. 

Empty Your Purse

Before we get to cleaning leather material, you’ll need to empty your purse. I like to sit at my dining room table and empty everything out when I do this. This way, I can take an inventory of what’s actually in there and what should be in there. 

We have an ongoing article series on decluttering different areas in our home called 10 Things to Toss. But what about our bags? I don’t know about you, but I usually find three empty lip balms, receipts from I don’t even know when, and food wrappers (like literal garbage) when I do the big purse dump. 

So, before we start cleaning the material, go through everything in your purse. Make three piles: items to toss in the trash, items to relocate, and items that will go back into your purse. 

Melissa holding a leather purse with objects flying in the air

Cleaning Purse Liner

Once everything in your purse is sorted, it’s time to move on to cleaning your purse itself. The first step is to clean your purse liner. 

As a mom and a hungry person, my purse is often filled with snacks. And snacks equal crumbs. The inside of my purse is like the underside of my sofa. Crumbs, crumbs, crumbs!

There are a few options when it comes to cleaning purse liners. First, if you see a lot of debris, use a lint roller to capture crumbs, dirt, dust, and whatever else is in there. Then, wipe down with a lightly moistened microfiber cloth. Pat dry. 

If the inside of your purse is pretty clean, you can skip the lint roller and just use the microfiber cloth. For a heavy-duty, deep-clean of your purse liner, try the fabric brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. It definitely feels weird to vacuum your purse, but this works like a charm for heavy-duty cleaning needs. 

How to Clean A Leather Purse

For those of you who are like, OK, OK, just tell us how to clean the leather, here it is! Moisten a white cloth and add a few drops of a high-quality leather cleaner. Disclaimer: do not use a colored cloth here because the color from the fabric can transfer to your leather. 

Using another soft, white cloth, buff your leather. This means moving your cloth back and forth across the leather, like what a shoe shiner would do in an old-timey movie. This will soften that leather up and give it a good shine. 

Then, condition your leather to keep it looking great and help preserve its lifespan. Always use a good quality leather conditioner, or you risk ruining your purse or bag. 

Finally, polish your purse buckles. There’s no point cleaning your leather purse if you aren’t going to polish those metal buckles. A microfiber cloth is excellent for this. Give those buckles and any other metal pieces a good shine. 

How to Store Leather

Cleaning, buffing and conditioning your leather purse or bag once a month is the best way to keep it looking great and prolong its life as long as possible. But don’t forget, once you’re done parading around with your fancy bag, you want to store it well so that it stays in good condition. 

To help your purse keeps its shape, stuff tissue paper inside when you’re not using it. To preserve the strap, never hang your purse, instead store it on a shelf. And on that note, never ever put your leather purse in a plastic bag. 

Plastic can stick to the leather and leave residue. Plus, plastic retains moisture, which can lead to mold, mildew, and yellowing. Keep your purse in something cotton. Personally, I like using old pillowcases for this. They’re great because they keep my leather bags safe, and reusing and repurposing old items keeps them out of landfills. 

How to Clean A Leather Purse

I’ll just come out and say it; leather can be a pain in the butt to clean. But, if you know how to do it, you’ll save yourself time and money, because you won’t have to replace your leather as often. 

If you have more leather questions, ask them in the comments. Or, if you have some great leather cleaning tips, let us know. The Clean My Space community wants to hear from you!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

5 COMMENTS

  1. So can anyone advise how to clean leather purse that someone mistook for a urinal on night? Only good thing about that was nothing got on the inside of my purse.

    Any suggestions?

  2. So *that’s* why J. Crew sends their leather purses in a cotton drawstring bag! I did not know this about storing leather bags! Thank you! I almost threw that bad boy away (the cotton bag- not the purse.)

  3. I cleaned my leather purse with a Maker’s fiber cloth and a drop of castile soap & water. I wet just a small piece of the cloth with that solution and buffed my ivory color purse softly because it had blue marks from my jeans. Looks brand new I didn’t know about conditioning it, so I will be doing that next.

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