Bad stains happen to any bag. Now, if you have stains on your designer handbag, chances are you are frustrated as you were probably expecting to get some mileage out of your investment. Will you take than sitting down or pull up your sleeves and get down to it with some amazing and super effective cleaning tips that will get your purse or handbag like brand new again? Given that it’s relatively easy to clean plastic and vinyl purses with water and mild soap, we will be focusing on leather purses, and here’s what you need to do to enjoy an exceptional armpiece for many more years to come!
1. Steer Clear of Synthetic Cleaning Products
Just remember that leather used to be a living hide before becoming your leather purse. For that reason, it needs to breathe. Suffocate it with petroleum-based and other synthetic cleaning products and you have a disaster ensured. Your leather handbag will dry out, fade, or crack. The same applies to embedded stains.
Tip: When cleaning your leather purse, always use a microfiber towel that won’t crumble or delaminate to wipe the bag, rather than soggy paper towels.
2. Clean it BEFORE it gets TOO Soiled
Freshen up your leather purse(s) frequently to avoid dealing with stubborn and persistent stains later on. Ideally, you could use baby wash and microfiber cloths. All you need to do is add a couple of drops of the baby wash in 8-12 ounces of water and then pour the solution in a spray bottle. Spray onto the TOWEL (NOT the leather purse directly), and gently wipe it, always minding going WITH the grain of the leather, with smooth and even stroke. Pay extra attention to the most touched areas (e.g. clasp and handle) as it is highly likely they will be saturated with body oils.
Additionally, you could condition your leather purse with a moisturizer, from time to time.
3. Send the Purse to a Trusted Purse Cleaner
Major stains (wet or dry) are not intimidating anymore. The wet stains can come out with water as they are usually caused by a water-soluble contaminant, such as ketchup. The dry ones though are typically greasy blemishes caused by lipstick, paint, oil, or wax and require professional care. Attending dry and heavy stains should be a pro’s job, such as Loveyourpurse.ca, given that leather needs extra care. Finding a trusted purse cleaning expert is the only way to rest assured your leather (or a designer bag/purse) is well taken care of and repaired (if required).
4. Clean with Saddle Soap
Saddle soap is a product that can treat stained leather effectively. However, you do need to test it out first in an inconspicuous area as it can streak some leathers. When you are sure everything is alright, gently wipe or BLOT (never rub) the affected area with the help of a microfiber cloth; otherwise, you may end up grinding the stain more deeply. Even worse, you could remove leather dye.
It is a method best used with fresh stains. Also, if your first attempt did not get the leather purse completely clean, allow it to dry and repeat the same process. It might need a couple of times.
5. Treat Scratches
A widely common issue with leather purses is that they are scratched. If your purse needs minor touch-ups, shoe polish (not too much of it as it will stiffen the leather) is excellent to use. Nevertheless, you do understand that it’s just a temporary measure and you should expect the leather to rub back off after a while. The best option is to seek a professional’s help.
6. Clean the Metal Hardware as well
Many people tend to forget cleaning the stainless steel eyelets or brass straps, among metal hardware. This is getting half the job done though. Surprisingly, we have found that Mr.Clean’s magic erasers are miraculous in cases like this and clean grimy and tarnished hardware quickly. Use a piece of beeswax to keep the zippers moving freely, and stay away from oils that will most likely drip and cause severe blemishes.
7. Prevent your Purse from Getting Dirty
Your bag will always stay clean if you take some precaution measures that will prevent it from getting stained. Avoid carrying pens (ink marks are a huge issue even for pros) and ensure all liquid containers are always secure. Also, don’t set your bag on the floor or dirty countertops, and reconsider carrying your special purse in inclement weather.
8. Mind the Way you Store your Purse
Designer or not, your leather purse shouldn’t be left in a sealed container or bag. Instead, you could store it in an old pillowcase or a dustcover (they both allow the leather to breathe), which will protect your purse and prevent mildew from developing (if you keep it off concrete floors). Areas with extreme temps (e.g. closed cars or attics) is completely out of the question and always store the chain handle (if your purse has one) inside the bag so it doesn’t scratch the outside leather.
9. Clean both the Exterior & Interior
Leather bags get dull from skin oils and environmental factors (e.g. hairspray, perfumes, etc.). To clean the outside of your leather purse (ideally once a week) will reduce soiling. Just add a few drops of mild liquid soap to 2 cups of lukewarm water and mix. Dip your microfiber (or any other soft cloth) in the solution and gently clean the outside of the purse. With another soft and dry rag, buff dry.
As for its interior, empty the contents and run a vacuum hose or lint brush along the inner lining. That should get all the dust out of the bag. Use the water-soap solution to wash interior stains and allow to dry before you start replacing its contents.
Conditioning your leather (every 6 months is great) will help it maintain flexible and also resist staining. To do that, mix 2 parts of linseed oil and 1 part of vinegar in a plastic bowl. Dip a microfiber cloth (or any other soft rug) and rub onto the leather, minding your moves are circular. Allow the solution to soak for approx. 15 mins and with a dry cloth buff the purse to a lovely shine.
You can remove ink stains if you dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and then rub the stain.
Deep stains, such as food, wine, and blood, are best cleaned off a leather purse with a tartar-lemon juice paste (one part each). Just apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for about 10 mins. Wipe off and proceed to the cleaning and drying procedure described before!