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How to clean a leather bag

Updated on February 21, 2015

Caring for your luxury leather bag

A beautiful luxury leather handbag is not only a staple item in any ladies wardrobe, but it is also an investment piece that can (if treated well) be used for many years. This is why it is so important to make sure your leather bag is maintained correctly! There is nothing worse than purchasing your favourite handbag to find you got it stained or soaked in the rain. Leather handbags are precious, but the best quality ones really don't need that much care and attention! In this lens we bring you the best ways for caring for and cleaning your leather handbag, what to avoid, and some secret tips and hints.

Remember: Leather is a skin, so treat it with care and attention and it should last a lifetime!

As a leather handbag retail company we deal with leather maintenance on a daily basis so if you have any queries regarding leather handbag care please feel free to contact us! We will do our very best to help you whatever the questions so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Owning a leather bag

Owning a leather bag can be very simple if you follow a few tips and tricks! The thing you always have to remember when cleaning or looking up how to clean your leather bag is that it all depends on the leather! Different things work on different kinds and quality of leather! For example something that works on patent leather may not work on vegetable tanned and vice versa! In this lens we aim to give you an unspecific overview on how to clean a leather bag that should work on most!

Before cleaning a classic leather bag always consult the manufacturer or seller. It may be that they have some really good advice on how to look after your accessory. Remember, bags that come with a guarantee can be repaired by the manufacture! But please note; this depends on the guarantee and the time you have had it! It's best to look for at least a two year guarantee on a leather bag, but the best are lifetime guarantees of course!

Good leather accessories should be fairly easy to maintain. If you find your leather bag is easily damaged or has broken in the first few months of you using it this is usually a sign of very bag quality or faux leather. It is always best to do your research on leather and leather handbag sellers before you buy!

Cleaning a leather bag

Everyday cleaning

If you have a few fingerprints on your bag or fancy giving your bag a quick polish, an uncomplicated cotton cloth is the best solution! Simply give it a quick clean over using just the cloth and the leather should look as good as new.

If you have had your bag for a while and think it needs a good clean then mild soap and water is always the best option! Simply dilute a small amount of soap in a bucket or sink and use a cloth to lightly clean your leather bag. Remember; gently does it! Leather should be treated with well as it is a skin just like your own! Softly rub afterwards using a dry cloth as you should never leave any excess moisture on the leather.

To feed or condition the hide it is always best to use natural products such as bees wax. The product should always penetrate the leather, not leave a coat! Bees wax is also a great water repellent, so if your luxury leather handbag gets caught in a little rain this should keep it at its best!

Removing stains

Removing stains is unfortunately quite hard on leather products. When investing in a good quality bag you should always keep the exterior away from food, makeup and any other oil based products. Whilst some manufacturers/sellers can help you repair your handbag, they are not liable to remove stains due to your own fault. However, do contact the company and ask them for their advice and their policy on repair work!

If you stain your bag, do not invest in expensive cleaners and conditioners to help remove it. Some of these cleaners, especially ones with chemicals, can actually cause your handbag more harm than good and make the stain even worse!

Keep away from any harsh chemical cleaners and products containing alcohol, however if the person who made the bag actually points you to a specific cleaner to clean your leather bag then you may use this.

Remember: do your research about the specific leather bag! Not all leathers are the same, and what can remove stains for one may not work or damage another!

A tip for all leather bags: As we have mentioned, all leather is different. However a good tip is to grind ordinary blackboard chalk, sprinkle the stained area and leave for 24 hours! Then simply wipe off excess chalk. This method contains no harsh chemicals, so will not make any stain worse on any handbag!

What to avoid

When owning a leather bag it can sometimes be hard to know what to use and what not to. We believe there are certain things that you should try to avoid when using or cleaning your favourite leather accessory! The following four things are what we think you should keep away from; however we have included instructions as to what to do if you make that mistake.


Household cleaners should by no means ever be used on a leather bag. Chemicals can actually ruin some leathers, so we recommend consulting the manufacturer before using any kind of chemical cleaner on your bag. Whilst we think it's always best to use natural products, all leather varies in quality, and some chemical cleaners may work on some kind of leather. Always do your research! If you have used a chemical cleaner accidentally and it has stained, contact the manufacturer.


Unfortunately we have no control over the elements; however, it is best to avoid rain! A small amount of rain is usually okay to get on leather, however to be safe we suggest avoiding it all together. We know this is sometimes impossible so if your bag does get caught in the rain you should wipe away the excess moisture and leave it to dry naturally! For quick results, stuff it with newspaper! This should soak up the water quickly. Never dry next to direct heat source!


Always try and keep your leather bag away from direct heat! Never dry on a radiator or leave somewhere that is prone to heat up. Again, the elements are sometimes unavoidable; however you should try and keep it away from direct sunlight! Use common sense when using your bag on a hot summer's day. If you have accidentally left it by direct heat source and your bag is fine; you are lucky! Do not continue to do this. Heat can actually cook the hide and cause it to stiffen.


Never store your leather item in a plastic bag! Leather needs to breath, and this actually encourages the growth of mildew which can lead to ruining your bag. If you have been storing your bag in plastic, stop immediately! You will notice if mildew starts to occur. If you are experiencing mildew on your bag, wash as normal (using mild soap and water), then pat dry clean.

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What else you should know

Good quality leather really does look after itself, so if you have read this lens and been put off by how you have to maintain it then don’t be! Leather is actually a material that should last a lifetime and is much easier to look after than plenty of other equivalents. In fact, with the best leather minor scratches and scrapes can be effortlessly wiped away with spit and polish!

Do not get leather and suede mistaken! Leather should be cared from in a completely different manner to suede. If you own a suede bag, do some research on cleaning and owning a suede product.

Wondering why Italian leather makes such a great material for a handbag? Check out our other lens, with some great information as to what is so special about Italian leather.

Want to know some more useful tips on looking after your leather accessory? Check out our leather bag care tips on owning, maintaining and travelling with your Italian leather handbag!

If you have any questions regarding leather care and how to clean your leather bag, please get in touch via our website or comment on this lens!

Any Questions?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Technology has moved on in the leather cleaning world. Most stains can nw be successfully removed from all types of leather.

      If you want help visit for help and advice

    • MaxwellScott LM profile image

      MaxwellScott LM 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Ash,

      As it is not our leather I am unsure how to help you with this. My best advice is to take it in to a leather care/leather repair shop so they can have a closer look at give you the best advice. Without seeing or knowing much about the specific leather used I'm unable to offer more assistance. I hope you get it sorted soon!

      Kind regards.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My celine mini luggage (almond in colour) just got exposed in the rain. I did wipe the raindrops off but to my horror I can see very visible stain marks now. Is there any way to get rid of them? It's so saddening its not even half a year old :'( i would appreciate if you could email me if you have answers to my question. Thanks a lot!

    • globedancer profile image

      globedancer 6 years ago

      Hi MaxwellScott! Leather bags are women's prized possession. Good thing you shared these care tips. Thanks!