One of my favorite things to find at the thrift store are leather handbags.
Cleaning them is a process but, I think it’s worth it for a nice, vintage purse.
I actually find it all quite satisfying. This is the third one that I’ve cleaned so far and had great results.
Step by step, here’s how I clean leather bags that I find at the thrift store:
- Vacuum out any crumbs, lint, etc. If possible, turn the bag inside out to thoroughly remove unwanted particles.
- Rinse the bag in a sink, under cool water to remove any surface dirt.
- Then, fill the sink up with cool water and add some Woolite. I didn’t measure, but I think I used maybe an 1/8 cup of Woolite.
- Gently hand wash the bag, then allow it to soak for about 20 – 40 minutes.
This bag was gently used so, I soaked it for about 15 minutes. Another bag I cleaned some months ago smelled of cigarette smoke. That one, I let soak for about 40 – 45 minutes.
- Drain, and rinse the bag under cool water.
- Then, fill the sink up again with cool water.
- Allow the bag to soak for about 15 – 20 minutes to thoroughly remove the soap.
- Drain, and press the water out of the handbag without wringing it.
- Stuff the bag with clean, dry towels. This will shape the bag so it dries back to it’s original form.
- Allow to dry, exchanging the towels as they become wet for fresh dry towels.
- When the bag is just about dry (which was the following day here), remove the towels and apply a good leather conditioner, following the instructions on the package.
I used Leather CPR Cleaner & Conditioner, which I picked up from Bed, Bath and Beyond.
- Once the conditioner has been applied, stuff the bag again and allow it to dry.
At this point, I began to get a little impatient. I put my bag in the trunk of the car (on a humid day) to speed up the drying process.
- The following day, depending on the feel of the leather, apply more leather conditioner.
My bag felt stiff the next day and, the leather looked dry.
I put some more Leather CPR on it and, the next day, it looked and felt much more supple.
Short on time?
Sometimes you can get away without hand-washing (or as The Purse Forum calls it, “dunking”. Cool forum, helpful information. That’s where I learned about some of this stuff).
It all depends on the condition the bag is in.
If it looks new or gently used:
• Light surface dust/dirt can be wiped off with a damp towel or sponge.
• An anti-bacterial spray, or wipe can be used on the interior as a disinfectant.
• Laundry dryer sheets can be tucked inside to help clear out that “thrift store smell”. The bag can also be “aired out” outdoors or in a well-ventilated area, some place secure of course.• Leather cleaner and/or conditioner can cleanse and condition the leather.
If you try any of these tips, I highly recommend spot testing a small hidden area to be certain that whatever you use doesn’t ruin the leather. On hand-washing, please use your own discretion, as all leather is not the same.
And, that’s it! Lol I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you liked this post, please share it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. 🙂
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