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How to clean a handbag and the inside of a purse

Cleaning the inside of a purse with a wet napkin

When it comes to personal belongings that see daily use, few items require more care and attention than our handbags. Regularly carried and frequently filled with a variety of personal items, handbags are subject to constant wear and tear. However, through effective and regular cleaning, the lifespan of these treasured items can be significantly extended.

Understanding how to clean a handbag effectively is crucial to maintaining its aesthetic appeal and durability. Not only does it ensure that your bags are always in their best condition, but it also makes them a joy to use on a daily basis. Handbag cleaning isn’t merely about making sure it’s spotless; it also involves caring for the material and maintaining its shape.

Moreover, cleaning a purse properly is an often-overlooked skill. While some might consider a quick wipe-down sufficient, those who value their handbags know that a more detailed approach to purse cleaning is necessary. This includes cleaning both the exterior and the interior, as well as addressing any stains or scuffs promptly to prevent permanent damage.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore the best techniques, tips, and practices for handbag cleaning and maintenance. From luxury designer items to everyday totes, we will ensure you have the knowledge to keep your handbags in their prime for years to come.

So whether you’re seeking advice on how to maintain a cherished designer piece or just want to know the best methods for routine handbag cleaning, you’re in the right place. Prepare to embark on a journey towards prolonging life and enhancing the look of your beloved handbags.

The Essentials of Handbag Maintenance

A well-loved handbag, just like any cherished possession, needs regular care to maintain its charm and longevity. The phrase “a stitch in time saves nine” holds especially true when it comes to handbag maintenance. In other words, a little attention to purse care every day can help avoid extensive damage and restore your bag’s longevity and appeal.

Firstly, the daily care of a handbag is not just about cleaning; it involves several other aspects such as proper storage, careful handling, and regular checks for any signs of wear or damage. All of these are essential components of effective handbag maintenance.

Let’s begin with proper handling. It may seem obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing: the way you handle your handbag daily significantly impacts its longevity. Simple practices like avoiding overloading your handbag, keeping it off the floor, or refraining from handling it with dirty or greasy hands can go a long way in preserving its overall condition.

Next, let’s talk about storage. Storing your handbag correctly when not in use is just as important as how you treat it when in use. Storing your bag in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, can prevent fading and material degradation. Additionally, stuffing your bag with tissue paper or a handbag pillow when not in use can help maintain its shape.

Routine checks are another key aspect of handbag maintenance. Regularly inspect your bag for any signs of wear, such as loose threads, peeling leather, or tarnishing hardware. Catching these issues early allows you to address them before they become significant problems, preserving the life and look of your handbag.

In summary, daily handbag maintenance isn’t simply about cleaning – it’s about cultivating habits of mindful handling, appropriate storage, and proactive purse care. These practices will not only keep your handbags looking their best but will also significantly enhance their lifespan, making them a constant companion for all your adventures.

Types of Handbags and Their Specific Cleaning Methods

Just as there are countless styles of handbags, there are also multiple types of materials they’re made of. Each material requires a different cleaning approach to ensure its longevity and sustained beauty. This section will guide you on how to clean a leather purse, fabric, and suede handbags effectively.

Leather Handbags

Leather handbags are a staple in most wardrobes, known for their durability and timeless elegance. When it comes to cleaning a leather bag, regular maintenance can keep it looking new for years. Use a dry cloth to wipe down your bag daily, removing any dirt or dust that has accumulated. For more persistent stains, consider using a specially designed leather cleaner. Be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area of the bag first to ensure it won’t discolor or damage the material. After cleaning, apply a leather conditioner to keep the material soft and prevent cracking. Remember, never use water to clean a leather purse as it can cause staining.

Fabric Handbags

Fabric handbags offer versatility and come in various patterns and colors, making them fun additions to any outfit. Cleaning fabric purses depends on the fabric type and the manufacturer’s instructions. Some bags may be machine washable, while others require spot cleaning. Use a fabric cleaner or mild soap and water to gently clean spots. Always air-dry your bag to prevent shrinkage or changes in shape.

Suede Handbags

Suede handbags have a unique, velvety texture that adds a touch of luxury to any ensemble. However, suede is particularly susceptible to scuffs, stains, and water damage, making cleaning more challenging. Always use a suede brush to remove dirt and debris, brushing in the direction of the fibers, not against them. For tougher stains, a specially designed suede eraser can be used. Keep in mind that suede should never be cleaned with water. If your suede handbag gets wet, blot it with a clean towel and allow it to dry naturally, away from heat and direct sunlight.

By understanding how to clean and care for your different types of handbags properly, you’ll be able to keep them looking beautiful for years to come. Remember, the key to effective handbag maintenance and cleaning is regularity and using the right methods for the right materials.

Cleaning the Interior of Your Purse

While maintaining the exterior of your bag is crucial, you can’t overlook the importance of a clean interior. Regular usage often means that the inside of your bag accumulates more dirt and debris than the outside. Crumbs, dust, lint, spilled makeup, or even ink stains are common problems. But how to clean the inside of a purse without damaging the lining? Follow these steps to ensure you handle this task effectively:

Empty Your Bag

Start by emptying out your purse completely. Check all the pockets and compartments to make sure nothing is left inside. You might find some long-lost items in the process!

Vacuum the Interior

Use a handheld vacuum or the brush attachment on your regular vacuum to remove any loose dust, lint, or crumbs. Be sure to reach into all the pockets and corners for a thorough clean.

Spot Clean

Inspect the lining for any stains. If your bag’s lining is fabric, you can use a small amount of mild soap or fabric cleaner on a soft cloth or sponge. Dab at the stains – never rub, as this can damage the fabric and cause the stain to spread. Remember to do a patch test in a discreet area first to ensure the cleaner doesn’t affect the color of the lining.

Wipe Down

If the lining is not removable and your bag’s interior is leather or vinyl, use a damp cloth to wipe it down. Then, dry it thoroughly with a towel to prevent moisture damage.

Dry Out Your Bag

Once the interior is clean, leave your purse open in a well-ventilated area to air dry. Never use a hairdryer or place it near a heat source, as this can cause damage.


If your bag has a lingering smell, use baking soda to deodorize it. Simply sprinkle some inside, let it sit overnight, and vacuum it up in the morning.

By taking the time to clean the inside of your purse regularly, you’ll extend the life of your bag and make it a more pleasant accessory to use daily. After all, the inside of your bag is just as important as the outside. So remember, understanding how to clean purse lining effectively is an integral part of handbag maintenance.

Pro Tips: Removing Specific Stains

Regardless of how careful you are with your handbag, accidents happen. Spills, leaks, and sudden rain showers can all lead to stains. Here are some solutions for common stain issues like ink, oil, water stains, and more:

Ink Stains

Ink stains on your handbag can seem like a disaster but don’t panic. If your bag is leather, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and gently blot the ink stain. Do not rub, as this could spread the ink. Once the stain is gone, clean the area with a leather conditioner to prevent drying.

Oil Stains

If you’ve dropped food on your bag or if a lotion has leaked, you might find yourself with an oil stain. For this, you can use cornstarch or baking soda. Apply a generous amount on the stain, let it sit overnight, and then brush it off gently. The cornstarch or baking soda will absorb the oil from the leather.

Water Stains

Rain can lead to unsightly water stains on your leather bag. To remove these, dampen the entire panel of the bag with a sponge and room temperature water so the bag can dry uniformly. Once it’s wet, use a soft towel to blot the excess water and then let it air dry away from heat and direct sunlight.

Coffee/Tea Stains

If your morning coffee has ended up on your bag, clean it as quickly as possible with a solution of lukewarm water and mild soap. Use a soft cloth to apply the solution and clean the stain gently.

Makeup Stains

To remove makeup stains, you can use baby wipes on synthetic and most fabric bags. For leather bags, use a little bit of mild soap and warm water and then wipe with a dry, clean cloth.

Remember, when dealing with any stain, speed is your friend. The quicker you attend to a stain, the more likely you’ll be able to remove it completely. Always do a patch test when using any cleaning solution, and when in doubt about how to get a stain out of your purse, consult a professional.

Leather Bag Care: Special Attention and Maintenance

Leather bags are a beloved accessory for their durability and timeless elegance. However, they also need special care to keep them looking their best. This section will delve into leather purse cleaning, home remedies for upkeep, and when professional cleaning services might be required.

Routine Dusting and Cleaning

The first step to leather bag maintenance is routine dusting and cleaning. You can do this using a dry, soft cloth to gently wipe off any dust particles from the surface of the bag. If your bag has been exposed to dirt or grime, use a slightly damp cloth with a touch of mild soap to gently cleanse the surface. Always follow up the cleaning process with a thorough dry using a soft towel.

The Importance of Conditioning

Much like human skin, leather also needs moisturizing to keep it from drying out and cracking. A high-quality leather conditioner will preserve your bag’s softness and flexibility. To apply, use a soft cloth, gently rubbing the conditioner into the leather. Allow it to absorb for 15-20 minutes before wiping away any excess.

Home Remedies for Cleaning Leather

Several home remedies are effective for maintaining your leather bag. A mixture of white vinegar and water can be used as a natural cleaning solution. For stubborn ink stains, rubbing alcohol can be applied sparingly with a cotton ball. If your leather bag has an oil or grease stain, apply cornstarch or baking soda to absorb the oil and gently wipe away after a few hours.

Considering Professional Cleaning Services

While home remedies can take care of minor stains and routine maintenance, some issues may necessitate a professional touch. Professional leather cleaners possess the knowledge and appropriate products to handle severe stains, discoloration, or any damage that may occur over time. If your bag is an expensive designer piece or carries sentimental value, investing in professional cleaning might be a worthwhile consideration.

Proper Storage for Leather Bags

Proper storage plays a crucial role in the longevity of your leather bag. Always store your bag in a dust bag when not in use to shield it from dust and dirt. To maintain its shape, stuff it with acid-free tissue paper or a handbag shaper. Avoid storing leather bags in damp, musty areas or plastic bags, as this can promote mold growth.

Preventative Measures for Leather Bag Care

As the old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Try to keep your leather bag away from harsh environmental elements like excessive sun, rain, or snow. Also, ensure your hands are clean and free of oils before handling your leather bag.

With appropriate care and attention, your leather handbag can last for years, potentially becoming a vintage piece to pass down through generations. The effort put into maintaining your leather purse will indeed pay off in the long run.

Designer Handbags: Special Care for Luxury Items

Designer handbags are more than just a fashion statement. They’re an investment that requires particular care to maintain their value and aesthetic appeal. This section provides insights on cleaning luxury bags without damaging them, focusing on popular brands like Coach and Louis Vuitton.

Understanding the Material and Cleaning Instructions

Before cleaning any designer handbag, it’s crucial to understand the bag’s material and the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. For instance, some luxury handbags may be made of unique, delicate materials that require specific cleaning agents or methods. Always check the manufacturer’s care label or website for detailed cleaning guidelines.

Cleaning Coach Handbags

Coach handbags are known for their craftsmanship and use of quality materials. When cleaning a Coach purse, use mild, neutral soap and a slightly damp cloth for regular maintenance. For leather models, it’s advisable to use Coach’s own brand of fabric cleaner or leather conditioner, following the provided instructions carefully. If the inside of the purse needs cleaning, turn the lining inside out if possible and gently clean using a lint roller or fabric cleaner.

Caring for Louis Vuitton Handbags

Louis Vuitton handbags require special attention due to their signature coated canvas material and natural leather accents. To clean the canvas, use a soft, damp cloth with a bit of mild soap. Never use harsh chemicals, as they can damage the material and affect the color. The leather details on Louis Vuitton bags often develop a beautiful patina over time, which is part of the bag’s charm. However, if you wish to slow down this process, avoid exposure to direct sunlight and always store the bag in the dust cover provided when not in use.

Professional Cleaning for Luxury Bags

Some designer handbags may require professional cleaning, particularly if they’re heavily soiled or have stubborn stains. Many luxury brands offer cleaning and restoration services, which is a good option to consider if your bag needs a deep clean or refurbishing. Additionally, there are professional handbag cleaning services that specialize in luxury brands.

Proper Storage for Designer Handbags

The way you store your designer handbags can also affect their longevity. Always store them in their original dust bags, stuffed with acid-free tissue paper or a handbag pillow to maintain their shape. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Prevention Over Correction

Taking steps to prevent your luxury handbag from getting dirty is better than trying to clean it after the fact. Avoid placing your bag on the floor or any dirty surfaces. Be mindful when using pens or makeup around your bag to avoid accidental stains.

Remember, each designer handbag is unique, and understanding the specific needs of your bag will help it maintain its beauty for years to come.

DIY: How to Make Your Purse Cleaner at Home

Keeping your handbag clean doesn’t always have to mean spending money on expensive cleaning products. Often, you can make effective cleaning solutions at home using common household items. This section provides DIY cleaning solutions for different types of handbags, helping you maintain the look and extend the life of your beloved purse.

DIY Purse Cleaner for Leather Handbags

Leather handbags require a gentle cleaning solution that won’t strip the natural oils from the leather. Here’s a simple recipe you can make at home:


  • 1 part mild, unscented dish soap
  • 8 parts warm water
  • A few drops of essential oil (optional)

Combine the dish soap and warm water in a bowl, stirring gently to avoid creating too many suds. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a pleasant fragrance if desired. Dip a soft cloth into the solution, wring out the excess, and gently wipe your leather bag. Make sure not to soak the leather, and always test this solution on an inconspicuous part of the bag first to ensure it doesn’t discolor the material.

Homemade Cleaner for Fabric Handbags

Fabric purses can generally tolerate stronger cleaning solutions than their leather counterparts. Here’s a DIY cleaner you can whip up:


  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 1 part warm water

Mix the vinegar and warm water in a bowl. Use a soft cloth or sponge, dip it into the solution, and gently scrub the surface of the bag. Rinse the fabric area with a wet cloth, then blot with a dry towel. Let the bag air dry in a well-ventilated area.

Natural Cleaner for Suede Handbags

Suede is a delicate material that needs a careful approach. For regular cleaning of suede handbags, you can use white vinegar:


  • White vinegar
  • A clean, dry cloth

Dip a corner of the cloth into the vinegar and gently rub the dirty or stained area of your suede bag. Allow it to dry naturally. After drying, you may need to restore the texture with a clean toothbrush or a specialized suede brush.

Caution and Care

Always do a spot test with these DIY cleaners on an unseen part of your purse to ensure they won’t cause discoloration or damage. Never soak your bag, and avoid harsh scrubbing. Remember, when it comes to handbag maintenance, gentle and consistent care is the key.

With these homemade cleaning solutions, you can keep your purse looking its best while also saving money. However, if your bag has a stubborn stain or is a particularly delicate or expensive piece, it may be best to consult with a professional cleaner.

Caring for Your Purse: Storage and Other Tips

Preserving the beauty and functionality of your handbag goes beyond just cleaning it. Proper storage and mindful everyday handling can significantly prolong its lifespan. This section offers some tips on how to best store and care for your handbag to maintain its look and durability over time.

Proper Purse Storage

Where you store your purse when it’s not in use is just as important as how you clean it. Storing your handbag properly can prevent unnecessary wear and tear, and also help maintain its shape.

  1. Empty Your Handbag: Always empty your purse before storing it. Leaving items inside can stretch out the material and cause it to lose its shape. It also avoids the risk of ink leakage from pens or other items.
  2. Use a Dust Bag: Most high-quality and designer handbags come with a dust bag. Make sure to use it. The dust bag protects the handbag from dust, sunlight, and humidity. If you don’t have a dust bag, you can also use a cotton pillowcase.
  3. Stuff Your Handbag: To keep your purse from collapsing or creasing, stuff it with acid-free tissue paper, bubble wrap, or old t-shirts. Avoid using newspaper as the ink can transfer to the bag’s material.
  4. Position Correctly: Always store handbags upright, just as they would naturally sit. Storing bags on their side can cause them to become misshapen.
  5. Avoid Hanging: Don’t hang your bags for long periods as this can put stress on the straps. If the straps stretch out or break, your bag will lose functionality and aesthetic appeal.
  6. Control Temperature and Humidity: Store your purses in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Sunlight can fade the color, and humidity can promote the growth of mold and mildew.

Additional Handbag Care Tips

Apart from storage, here are some additional tips on how to care for your purse, especially if it’s made of leather:

  1. Avoid Overstuffing: Overstuffing your purse can stress the seams and cause the bag to lose its shape. Try to carry only what you need and regularly clean out unnecessary items.
  2. Handle with Clean Hands: Always handle your handbag with clean hands. Oils and dirt from your hands can transfer to the material and cause it to look dirty over time.
  3. Rotate Your Bags: If you have more than one purse, try to rotate their use. This allows each bag to rest and regain its shape between uses.
  4. Professional Cleaning: For stubborn stains or when in doubt, consider a professional cleaning service. They have specialized tools and knowledge to clean and preserve your handbag without damaging it.

Remember, a well-cared-for handbag can last for years, even decades, and can be a constant companion in your daily adventures. Proper care and maintenance can ensure your purse stays looking its best for as long as possible.


Handbags, from casual totes to luxury designer items, are more than just accessories. They carry our essentials, complement our style, and often stand as a testament to our tastes. Hence, proper handbag cleaning and maintenance should be an integral part of our routine. This practice not only preserves their appearance and function but also enhances their lifespan, making them worthy of the investment.

We’d love to hear about your experiences in caring for your handbags. What worked? What didn’t? Do you have any tips or hacks to share? Please drop a comment below and let us start a conversation about making our beloved handbags last a lifetime. Happy cleaning!

Last Updated on July 21, 2023

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