How to Clean Leather Purse from Thrift Store to a New Look

Table of Contents

A beautiful leather handbag may be purchased in a thrift store, a consignment store, or even a flea market. Consider how many times you’ve wanted to buy a Gucci, Bottega Veneta, or Tom Ford purse but couldn’t afford it.

If you shop around, you may be able to get a beautiful second-hand high-quality bag for a fraction of the cost. You most likely have one already, which is why you’re reading this article to learn how to clean a leather handbag from a thrift store, consignment shop, or flea market.

When buying a secondhand leather handbag, all of the recommendations in this article are still accurate. However, because you aren’t sure how the bag was kept or used previously, there is an additional cleaning procedure to follow.

Let’s go through a list of items and the procedure for cleaning a handbag from a thrift store, consignment shop, or flea market.

Water in a basin

It’s critical to note that water and leather don’t mix. When leather absorbs moisture, it is harmed. However, a leather handbag only needs a little amount of water. When soap is utilized, water may appear. We don’t require soap to clean our leather purse because doing so leaves wet marks that are difficult to remove. The temperature of the water isn’t significant; however, lukewarm is better than cold.

Several clean pieces of rag

These can be produced by taking, for example, a dozen or so old clothes and drying them fully before cutting out strips from the fabric. The fluffier they are, the better, since scratches on your leather handbag’s surface are unavoidable.

The best handbag cleaning solution is one that is completely colorless. White, colorless rags are also the finest option since they are least likely to leave stains on your handbag.

Use Leather shampoo

This is the type of cleaner you should use in place of soap. The pH balance of leather cleaners and shampoos is considered while they’re being created. Leather can be damaged by too much acidity or alkalinity.

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Note the circumstances under which a thrift-store bag has been handled, stored, and carried. You’re also in the dark about what it was used for previously. A handbag may have been utilized to transport scientific equipment — albeit extreme cases, but conceivable.

Because of this, it’s critical to clean the handbag before using it. You avoid catching illnesses or conditions that might be transmitted via touch as a result of this.

The greatest disinfectant you may use is medical-grade antibacterial wipes. Wipes not only cover the whole surface, but they also remove dirt from it, unlike spray disinfectants.

The price is rather high, but it’s well worth the money when it comes to health and safety. They can efficiently eliminate bacteria, germs, and viruses up to 99.9 percent of the time. Flu virus (H1N1), strep, e-coli, salmonella, HIV-1, H1n1 (H1), MRSA VISTA , and VR.

You may also keep the wipes from a single purchase for weeks on end on various surfaces such as gym equipment, leather seats, and even door handles.
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Leather recoloring balm

To restore the color and prevent scratches on the surface, use a leather conditioner. This restores the color of the purse leather while also sealing scratches. Getting this product might be difficult because matching the right purse color is critical. A minor difference in palette choices may have a big impact and most likely result in something you don’t want.

If the cost is correct, you should only invest in a leather recoloring balm if it’s absolutely necessary. You don’t want to spend more cleaning and refurbishing your bag than you would for a new one, of course.

Consider whether you’ll be able to use the recoloring balm on a specific bag after it has been sold in the United States. Because it can only be used on one handbag once it has been purchased, inquire about any restrictions before making your purchase.

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Leather conditioner

The leather is moistened. It softens, moisturizes, and makes the leather more pliable. It also makes the leather stronger while also making it more firm and long-lasting. Leather conditioner, unlike the recoloring balm, may be used on a wide range of surfaces, including as leather seating. As a result, pricing for this product is simple to manage due to its versatility in application.

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How to Moisturize

If the leather on your vintage purse is a little dusty, clean it with a damp cloth. Then use a dry towel to remove any moisture from the leather. A tiny quantity of Vaseline may assist restore and moisturize dry, cracked leather. The lotion in big-box stores has both a restorer and conditioner in one bottle. Apply once a month or as needed when the leather appears to be worn (a dry, almost ashy look).

A little effort goes a long way when it comes to keeping your leather goods looking new! Always do a test spot on an inconspicuous area of any leather item you’re working on. Some types of leather and imitation leather are unable to be conditioned. They’re more often seen in wallets and shoes (such as nubuck, rawhide, or suede). If the product has attached or sewn-in tags while shopping secondhand, see if you can use leather cleaner.

To prevent damage from water and dampness, apply your purse leather as often as required. It will also make your bag appear brand new again.

Let’s get started on cleaning a handbag from a thrift shop, consignment store, or flea market after you’ve gathered all of your supplies.

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Get rid of stuff from the previous owner

Look through the purse from top to bottom. Make sure each compartment is clear of everything and there are no stray objects in any of them. Naturally, before giving it to a charity shop, the previous owner double-checked that nothing belonging to them was left inside. There might be a few items or papers, cards, and receipts that they don’t need and put in the bag on their own volition.

Remove everything from the compartment, including all of the trash. To release some particles from the compartments, you may need to hit it a few times.

Leather Basic Cleaning

Cleaning leather is straightforward with the proper equipment, although it does take more time than shaving plastic. Cleaning leather requires special care and attention, but it’s worth the effort. Your leather goods will appreciate a careful cleaning, which can extend their lifespan by years.

You will need:

  • Several Clean Cloths
  • Leather Cleaner
  • Leather Conditioner (see below)
  • Metal Polish

Not all cleaning chemicals are suitable for each leather care. Before using a new cleaning product on the entire handbag, test it on a tiny inconspicuous region of your bag.

1. Dust

After cleaning your leather handbag, make sure all dust and grime has been removed. This may be completed simply with swipes with a clean, dry towel. It’s a good idea to give your handbag a dusting once or twice a week to keep it clean and lovely.

2. Clean the Purse

Make sure your purse is completely dry before proceeding. Place a clean, damp cloth on the surface of the purse and then gently massage it into the leather with circular motions. Instead of cleaning inch by inch, use broad circles to clean big areas at once. Make sure you clean your handbag thoroughly in this manner. After polishing, use another wet towel to wipe away any excess liquid from the surface. Wipe off the surface using a dry towel before drying it with a wet one. Use a clean cloth to clean away the solution after that. Because the solution should be removed with a simple wipe, scrubbing isn’t necessary. It’s essential not to block leather pores when cleaning here by rubbing too much cleanser on it.

The simplest possible maintenance for your leather handbag is to clean it. You should clean your leather bag once a month or less to keep it in good shape.

3. Clean the Hardware

Use a cloth you don’t mind getting somewhat bleached to polish the hardware of your handbag. Because this sort of metal generally has an outer plating over the base metal, softly rub it in. The scouring of the hardware may flake away the plating, leaving your bag looking old and tarnished. Finally, use a white or light-colored cloth to buff any tarnish from the hardware, leaving it clean and brand new!Avoid using textiles or non-metal components when polishing leather. These areas of the leather may be discolored as a result of the polish.

4. Condition the Purse

Leather treatment can help prevent leather from drying out. If fake leather isn’t cared for, it will fracture. Fill the empty water with fresh water. To prevent mildew and mold from developing on your damp handbag, place it in a low-draining sink. Make sure you remove any zippers or clasps before cleaning them so that dirt does not get trapped inside. Use a clean cloth to buff the leather after it’s been cleaned. To remove dust and other particles, do the following: n) Clean your bag thoroughly with a clean cloth, then apply leather conditioner to it.

Cleaning Stains on Leather

To keep a leather purse in good condition, it must be cleaned on a regular basis. However, things may go wrong. When spills, stains, and other debris accumulate in your handbag, follow these steps to clean them up.

Ink Stains and Scuffs

Simply soak a cotton swab or the edge of a cloth in rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover and apply it to the mark. Only dab lightly, because the ink does not spread if you wipe too hard. Continue wiping until the stain is gone. After removing any residue, clean the afflicted region with a wet cloth and then dry it off with a towel.

Oil or Grease Stains

Sprinkle a small pinch of baking soda or cornstarch over the oil or grease stain. Both will aid in the removal of oils and fats. Gently rub the powder into the spot with a damp cloth until the mark has been absorbed. Clean any residue away with a clean cloth and wipe away any dust after your bag has sat overnight.


In a cup, combine one part lemon juice and one part cream or tartar. Apply the resulting paste to the discolored area and leave it for ten minutes. Wipe away the paste after ten minutes, allowing the leather to fully dry. If required, repeat until the stain is gone.

Liquid Stains

If your leather handbag gets a lot of liquid on it, start by attempting to absorb as much of the liquid as possible with tissues or a dry cloth. Towels or a wet cloth can be used to soak up the liquid. In circular motions, dampen a clean towel with warm water and apply it to the afflicted region from the outside in. Work your way progressively towards the center to prevent the stain from spreading. Finally, use a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture.If you must clean the sofa, start by dampening a white cloth with warm water and blotting as much of the stain as possible. Do not rub or dab the stain while cleaning it; doing so may spread or sink deeper into the leather. Don’t use a hair dryer to dry the frayed leather; instead, avoid using direct heat, such as a hair dryer. If you apply direct heat to the mark, it might become permanent; therefore, don’t do it.

Denim and Jeans Stains

If you live in a relatively humid area, keep a bottle of leather cleaner on hand for minor stains. It’s great for cleaning filthy jeans. Clean the surface of a leather product with a clean cloth soaked in leather cleanser. Using a white towel dampened with leather cleanser, softly wipe the area. Ink should migrate to the cloth as you dab. Make careful not to rub the mark; doing so might cause it to spread. Remove any cleanser using a clean dry towel once the mark has been removed.

Baking soda or cornstarch can also be used to get rid of jean stains. Both of these chemicals have the capacity to absorb the majority of stains. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of baking soda or cornstarch over the soiled jeans and leave them for several hours. It should have absorbed the stain, so you may wipe away the powder with a wet cloth to clean up any remaining mess.

Removing Odors

The filthy scents emanating from your handbag are mostly caused by germs. The inside and outside of the bag must be cleaned to eliminate smells. Here are some odor-eliminating ideas:

  • If you’re cleaning the inside lining, be sure you have the right cleaning materials for the liner’s material.
  • Your purse’s liner might be removed. Look for this, as it makes cleaning the inside a lot easier.
  • While cleaning your handbag, pay particular attention to the interior and exterior areas and corners. Bacteria tend to congregate in these areas.
  • Clean all high-contact surfaces, including the handles and any frequent locations, with a specially formulated leather cleaner. Oil from your hand sliding into the leather may occasionally produce odors.
  • To avoid warping the leather or tarnishing the metal hardware, do not soak a clean after applying a freshening spray on the liner.

Removing Mold

Molds can damage leather and produce odors or color changes. Cleaning your leather handbag is straightforward and will keep it looking refreshed. After cleaning, make sure the leather handbag is completely dry. This may be accomplished by leaving it in a warm place for several hours. Wipe any surface mold off the leather using a wet cloth for the first clean to remove mold. Mold will come off if your handbag is thoroughly wetted.

Allow the handbag to dry a second time after cleaning. Use a leather cleanser on your bag next to remove any deep-seated mold that may be hiding out of sight. Keep your leather handbag in a low-humidity environment to prevent additional mold from developing in the future.

Final Thoughts

It’s a large part of my overall goal to become financially self-sufficient in the future, so I frequent thrift stores. If you want to save a lot of money on designer items and antique objects, go to thrift shops since they are considerably less expensive than commercial malls.

Susan G Baird

Susan G Baird

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