How to clean leather clothes and handbags

A good leather purse, handbag, jacket or shoes are worth looking after so they last longer and remain in good condition.

Most of us have had a favourite piece of leather clothing in our lifetime. Whether it was a handbag, special pair of shoes or a jacket that made us feel special whenever we wore it, there is something special about looking after quality leather clothing and accessories.

Here is some advice on how to clean your leather goods to keep them in good condition and lasting longer. The most important thing to know about how to clean leather is to not use ammonia or bleach-based cleaners. They can damage the surface. Go easy on the water, too, as it can stain leather.

To clean a leather bag, firstly empty all the pockets and shake the purse upside down to remove dust and debris. Turn the lining inside out and clean using a lint roller. If you cannot pull out the purse lining, vacuum using the fabric brush attachment.

To clean the leather, mix a solution of warm water and dish soap, dip a soft cloth into it, wring it out and wipe the exterior surfaces of the purse. Use a second clean, damp cloth to wipe off the soap. Dry with a towel. Warm, soapy water will also remove water stains and scuffs. Stains will happen to your purse, even when you’re careful. To remove them, grab one of the following items and get going.

Nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol

These are great cleaners to get rid of ink stains and scuffs. Dip a cotton swab in nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol and lightly blot the stain. Don’t rub, or you could make the ink spread. Blot gently till the stain is gone. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth and dry with a towel.

Baking soda

To clean oil or grease stains, sprinkle baking soda on the spot. Rub it in gently, with a damp cloth. Let sit for a few hours or overnight while the soda absorbs the oil. Wipe off the powder with a soft cloth.

Lemon juice and cream of tartar

Mix equal parts of each into a paste. Apply to stained area and let sit for 30 minutes. Use a damp cloth to remove the paste. Lemon juice and cream of tartar have a mild bleaching effect so only use this on light-coloured leather.

Once your purse is clean, apply leather conditioner to keep it from drying out and cracking, and to make it resistant to future stains. You can buy a commercial leather conditioner or make your own by mixing one part vinegar to two parts linseed oil. Apply to leather, let sit for about 15 minutes and buff with a soft cloth till the leather shines.

Knowing how to clean leather shoes and boots will keep your footwear looking good and preserve the leather for years. Here’s how to keep them looking good for longer.

Remove the laces

If they’re dirty, run them through the washing machine or replace them.

Clean loose dirt and debris

Use a soft cloth or a brush to remove any grime that may be stuck to the shoe’s leather surfaces.

Apply soap

Mix a solution of warm water and dish soap, dip a soft cloth into it, wring it out and wipe the exterior surfaces of the shoe.

Wipe off soap

Use a second clean, damp cloth to wipe off the soap. Dry with a towel. Warm, soapy water will also remove water stains and scuffs.

Condition leather

Apply leather conditioner to protect from stains and to add shine. You can buy a commercial leather conditioner or make your own by mixing one part vinegar to two parts linseed oil. Apply to leather, let sit for about 15 minutes and buff with a soft cloth till the leather shines.

Dry

Let your shoes and boots dry in the open air. Don’t put them in the sun or by a heater, as this may cause the leather to fade or crack.