A leather purse is an investment, one that can contribute to a fashionable and professional image for decades. However, many leather handbags become dingy and worn-looking over the years due to a lack of appropriate cleaning and care. Caring properly for your purse will ensure that you get your money’s worth from your investment. Luckily, this is not as difficult as it might seem.
Before You Begin
The first step to take before cleaning is to consult the tags inside your purse to make sure the materials and cleaners you are about to use are not specifically contraindicated. If the tags are missing or too worn to read, you can also look on the manufacturer’s website. Then, completely empty your purse, including all pockets. Shake out or vacuum if there is dust and other particles inside.
The next step is to check the purse thoroughly for stains. It’s important to remove stains before cleaning because the water and soap used to cleanse the purse may actually spread a stain. Decide what made the mark in question. Most stains can be removed with a paste made of one part cream of tartar and one part lemon juice. Apply the paste to the stain and let sit for ten minutes before wiping clean with a damp rag. While this will work for most staining materials, ink and grease stains require special treatment. If the stain is ink, rub lightly with rubbing alcohol, changing cloths often to prevent smearing the ink. If the stain is grease or another oily substance, place a thin layer of cornstarch over the stain. Keep changing the cornstarch until the stain is gone. Then, wipe repeatedly with a dry cloth before following the usual cleaning instructions.
Once any stains are removed, mix a few drops of mild dishwashing soap into a glass of distilled water. It’s important to use distilled water because tap water often contains chemicals such as chlorine that can damage or age the delicate leather. Dip the tip of a soft rag or cleaning cloth into this mixture and gently wipe down the outside of your leather purse. Choose a rag or cloth that is not dyed to prevent the color from rubbing off on the leather. When you have finished, dry completely. If you wish, you can buy a leather protector and apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions to protect the leather further.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Before using any stain remover or cleaner, it’s important to test it on a small, less visible part of the leather bag. A variety of dyes and colorings are used for leather purses, so it is impossible to predict how even the mildest soap will react unless you have tested it first.
If you have any questions about cleaning and maintaining your particular purse, do not hesitate to contact a professional leather cleaner or your purse’s manufacturer. However, these tips are tried and true, and will be both safe and effective for almost all leather handbags. By cleaning and maintaining your leather purse, you can ensure that it is a lovely, stylish addition to your wardrobe for years to come.