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How to Clean Leather Bags Without Damaging Them

One common accessory in almost everyone’s wardrobe is leather bags. Besides being versatile and stylish, they’re durable and functional too. But not many people know how to clean leather bags. Some buy them only to notice after a while that they’ve started peeling or gathering mildew.

If you’re in this situation or maybe you just got a new bag and wanna know how to maintain it, there’s nothing to worry about. You’ve come to the right place.

In this piece, you’ll see how to clean leather bags so they last long enough to serve your style needs. Let’s dive in.

How to Clean Leather Bags

a picture showing how to clean leather bags with a cleaner

It’s one thing to have a quality leather bag. It’s another to ensure it’s clean and maintained properly. Whether you just invested in a designer piece or a bag from a thrift store, what’ll ensure you get value for your money is how you clean and care for your bag. 

So, when you get stuck, clean it this way:

Clean Both Inside & Outside

Use a cleaning solution (liquid soap or detergent with water) with a soft cloth to clean the insides and outside of your bag inside.

While at this, ensure you wring water out of the cloth so it’s damp while you use it on your bag.

Wipe off Soap

Use another damp cloth to wipe off the soap from your bag. Afterward, dry the bag with a dry cloth or towel. 

Apply Leather Conditioner/Protection Cream

Leather conditioner protects your bag from stains and adds shine to it. You can buy one from a store or make yours by mixing vinegar and linseed oil. 

Whichever leather conditioner you’re using, apply it to your bag and let it sit for about 15 minutes before buffing it with a soft cloth until the leather shines. 

Also, while applying the protection cream, take note of the handles, corners, and frequently touched areas. Ensure the conditioner touches these areas and be sure to buff any excess before you airdry the bag. Don’t put your leather bag in the sun as this may cause it to fade or crack.

How to Remove Stains from Leather Bags & Shoes 

a man cleaning a small leather bag

When you notice a stain on your leather bag, the best way to clean them off is by using a leather care kit. But if you don’t have any available or can’t find them in the store, get rid of the stain by doing any of the following:

Grease or Oil

For grease or oil stains, sprinkle baking soda on the affected area. Rub it in gently with a damp cloth and let it sit for a few hours, preferably overnight, before wiping it off with a soft cloth. 

The soda will absorb the oil. 

Ink Stain

Dip a cotton swab into a nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol and gently blot the stain. Don’t rub the cotton swab around the affected area lest you should spread the ink. Just blot gently until the stain leaves then wipe with a clean, damp cloth and dry with a soft cloth or towel.


For marks made by scraping or grazing your bag against a surface or object, use toothpaste to clean it. Apply some toothpaste on the scuffed area then rub with a soft cloth.


When damp, your leather bag can gather mildew. But don’t fret if you notice this. Use baking soda to get rid of the mold.

Just sprinkle baking soda over the affected area and leave it overnight. Afterward, gently scrub the mold or mildew using a wet cloth, wipe off with a dry cloth, and air dry.

If you don’t have baking soda available, use a soft brush to gently rub the mold off. And when you’re done, apply wax or shoe polish on the bag to polish it and make it shinier.

How Often Should You Clean Your Leather Bags?

a picture showing a brown leather bag with mildew

This depends on how often you use your bag. If you use it every day, clean it every two to three months. But if it’s a once-in-a-while, clean it every six months.

Always Protect Your Leather Bag

a photo showing how to clean leather bags from Wikihow

Since prevention is better than cure, always strive to protect your leather bag from harm. An excellent way to do so is by cleaning it regularly. 

You also need to know how to protect your leather bag from peeling. This is necessary because no matter how clean your bag is, once it starts to peel you won’t feel good rocking it.

Also, how you keep your bag matters. For durability, keep yours in a dust bag. And when the bag isn’t in use, stuff it with old newspapers. It helps to retain the shape.

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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or sketching fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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