How to clean a leather purse without losing its natural, time-worn beauty is a very important skill. In fact, whether you own a leather tote bag, messenger bag, or briefcase, it's vital to maintain your piece so it remains intact for years to come. Thankfully, it’s not complicated.
The daily strain put on a purse greatly varies by individual. So, how often you need to clean your purse will vary as well. If you notice your purse gets dirty faster, we encourage you to clean it more often using the steps in this article.
4-5 Soft, clean cloths
(*be sure to spot-test any products before applying to your entire purse!)
Begin by removing any surface dust and dirt from the exterior of your leather purse with a brisk dusting. Quickly dry-dusting your bag using a clean, dry cloth is a great habit to repeat every few days.
Using a clean cloth, apply your leather cleaner in a circular motion. (Be sure to use a cleaner that is specially formulated for leather!) Work in large sections, panel by panel, to ensure you clean the entire handbag evenly. Then, use a slightly damp cloth to remove the cleaner (to avoid clogging the pores of the leather). This type of cleaning is suitable for regular care and maintenance and should be done a couple of times a year—up to once a month. If you’re dealing with a more specific cleaning crisis, like how to clean leather purse stains, check out our article on how to remove stains from leather bags.
After cleaning a leather purse, it’s imperative that you condition the leather. High-quality leather is a natural material, and without proper conditioning, it will dry out over time. To promote the best look and life for your leather purse, apply leather conditioner to a soft cloth (not directly onto the leather) and gently rub a thin layer into the entire surface of the bag. Again, work in large sections, panel by panel, to ensure even coverage. Take special care around zippers, pockets, and embellishments. After applying the conditioner, use another soft, dry cloth to gently buff the leather surface. You’ll want to condition your leather purse once or twice a year—or even more often if you live in a particularly dry climate.
When you invest in a gorgeous, high-quality leather purse, it’s worth learning how (and how often) to clean it properly. The goal of learning how to clean a leather purse is not to make it look like it’s never been used. On the contrary, the best leather purses reveal a journey. Their unique patinas and “imperfections” hint at the story of a life well lived—much like the women who carry them.