How to Clean a Leather Purse From a Thrift Store?

How to Clean a Leather Purse From a Thrift Store?

Leather purses are a classic accessory for any outfit, and they can be a great addition to your wardrobe if you know how to take care of them. If you’ve ever found a leather purse at a thrift store, then you may be wondering how to clean it and make sure it looks its best. In this article, we will answer some common questions about cleaning leather purses and provide some useful tips that will help you get the job done quickly and easily.

Why Do You Need to Clean a Thrift Store Bag?

A thrift store is a retail establishment that sells products which are either used, donated, or vintage. Thrift stores are often associated with providing low-cost goods to shoppers; however, some thrift stores (particularly those which sell vintage clothing) can be quite expensive.

Why Do You Need to Clean a Thrift Store Bag?

Most people donate items to thrift stores because they no longer need or want them. This means that, unless the item was very expensive or well-cared-for, it is likely that it has not been cleaned in some time. Furthermore, thrift store staff generally do not have the time to clean each individual item which is donated. As a result, it is important that you clean any thrift store leather purse before using it yourself.

Clean from dust and dirt

One of the reasons you should clean a thrift store leather purse is to remove any dust or dirt that may have accumulated on it. If the bag has been sitting in a storage unit or on a shelf for an extended period of time, it is likely that it is quite dusty.

Remove odors

Leather is a natural material that can absorb and hold onto smells. If your thrift store leather purse has any odors, it is important to clean it as soon as possible.

Odors can come from:

  • The previous owner (e.g., cigarette smoke)
  • The environment in which the purse was stored (e.g., musty smell)
  • The materials used to make the purse (e.g., chemical smells).

When you remove the odors from a thrift store leather purse, you will be able to enjoy its fresh smell and feel confident carrying it around with you.

To get rid of the bacteria

Cleaning a leather purse from a thrift store is also important for health reasons. Bacteria can easily transfer from one person to another through clothing and other personal items; therefore, by cleaning a used purse you will reduce your risk of contracting any infections or diseases which may be present on the surface of the leather. [1]

Choose a Good Quality Bag First

When shopping for a thrift store leather purse, it is important to choose one that is made from high-quality materials. Leather purses can vary greatly in terms of quality, and the last thing you want is to spend time and effort cleaning a purse only to have it fall apart on you shortly thereafter.

It is also important to inspect the bag for any damage before purchasing it. Check the seams, lining, and hardware for signs of wear and tear. If possible, try to find a thrift store leather purse that does not have any major damage; this will make cleaning it much easier. [1], [2]

Wipe Off the Dust

Begin by removing any dirt and debris from the surface of the purse using a soft cloth. If the purse is very dirty, you may need to use a slightly damp cloth. Be sure to avoid using any harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as these can damage the leather. [2], [3]

Identify the leather

The important step before cleaning a leather purse from a thrift store is to identify the type of leather it is made from. The three most common types of leather are full-grain, top-grain, and suede.

Full-grain leather is the strongest and most durable type of leather; it is also the most expensive.

Top-grain leather is less durable than full-grain but more flexible, making it ideal for purses and other items that need to be able to hold their shape.

Suede leather is the weakest and most delicate type of leather; it is also the most difficult to clean.

Once you have identified the type of leather, you should select a cleaning method that is appropriate for that particular material. [4], [5]

Use a Specialized Leather Cleaner

If you have a full-grain or top-grain leather purse, you can clean it using a specialized leather cleaner. These cleaners are designed to remove dirt and grime without damaging the leather.

To use a leather cleaner, simply apply a small amount of the cleaner to a soft cloth and wipe it over the surface of the purse. Be sure to avoid getting any cleaner on the lining of the purse, as this can damage delicate fabrics.

Use a Specialized Leather Cleaner

Once you have cleaned the entire purse, buff it with a dry cloth to remove any leftover residue.

This method shouldn’t be used to clear off suede, as the chemicals in the cleaner can damage this type of leather.

If you have a suede leather purse, you will need to take special care when cleaning it. Suede is a delicate material that can be easily damaged; therefore, it is important to use a gentle cleaning method.

One way to clean a suede purse is to use a soft brush or cloth to remove any dirt and debris from the surface. You can also use a specialized suede brush and eraser, but be sure to test this method on an inconspicuous area first to make sure it does not damage the leather. [2], [6]

Vacuum the Insides

Once the surface of the purse is clean, you can move on to cleaning the inside. Start by vacuuming the inside of the purse using the upholstery attachment. This will remove any dirt, dust, or hair that may be present. [2]

Wipe the Compartments with a Damp Cloth

After vacuuming, you can wipe down the compartments and pockets with a damp cloth. This will remove any remaining dirt and debris. Be sure to avoid getting the leather wet, as this can damage the material.

Use a soft brush or cloth to remove any remaining dirt and debris from the lining and pockets. If the purse has a removable liner, you can wash it in your washing machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once you have finished cleaning the inside of the purse, allow it to air dry completely before using it again. [2]

Condition the Leather

After cleaning the purse, you will need to condition the leather to restore its natural oils and protect it from damage. Leather is a natural material that needs to be conditioned to stay strong and supple. You can buy leather conditioner at most craft or hardware stores.

Apply the conditioner with a soft cloth, working it into the leather in small circular motions. Let the conditioner soak in for up to an hour before wiping away any excess with a clean cloth.

Conditioning your purse once every few months will help keep it looking new for years to come.

Keep in mind that suede leather does not need to be conditioned. In fact, conditioning suede can actually damage the material. [2], [3], [5]

The Don’ts of Cleaning a Leather Purse

Now that you know how to clean a leather purse, there are a few things you should avoid doing in order to keep your purse in good condition.

Avoid exposing the bag to water if possible

Avoid exposing the bag to water if possible

Water and leather are not friends. Leather is porous and will absorb water, which can cause it to swell, warp, and change color. If your bag does get wet, stuff it with newspaper and let it dry naturally away from direct heat. If you must clean it with water, be sure to use a very mild soap and avoid scrubbing the leather. Dry the purse thoroughly afterwards with a soft cloth or towel, and stuff it with tissue paper to help retain its shape while it dries. [2]

Don’t use harsh chemicals to clean the leather bag

Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners on your purse, as these can discolor or damage the leather. Stick to mild soaps and cleaners specifically designed for use on leather. [7]

Don’t use hairdryer to dry your purse

While a hairdryer can help speed up the drying process, it is not recommended to use one on your leather purse. The heat from the hair dryer can damage the leather, making it more brittle and less supple. [8]


Can you wash a genuine leather purse?

Yes, you can but you need to be careful to not soak it too much. You will need a mild soap and a slightly dampened soft cloth. Gently scrub the purse with the cloth and soap, then use a dry cloth to gently wipe the moisture and let it all air dry.

Do not put your leather purse in the washing machine or use harsh chemicals on it, as this can ruin the material.

How do you clean thrift store leather?

There are a few ways you can clean leather from a thrift store, and the method you choose will depend on the severity of the stains and the type of leather. For example, if the leather is delicate, you’ll want to avoid using harsh chemicals.

If the leather is really dirty, you can try cleaning it with a leather cleaner or saddle soap. These products are designed to clean leather without damaging it.

How do you make a leather purse look brand new again?

There are a few key steps to take in order to make a leather purse look brand new again. First, it is important to remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the purse using a soft cloth. Next, you will want to apply a leather conditioner to the purse in order to restore its natural moisture and shine. Finally, you should buff the purse with a clean cloth until it looks lustrous and new.

Useful Video: HOW TO CLEAN LEATHER BAGS-Easy and inexpensive way to clean quality leather thrift finds.


If you’ve scored a great deal on a leather purse from a thrift store, don’t forget to give it a good clean before using it. Wiping it down with a damp cloth is usually enough to get rid of any surface dust or dirt, but for tougher stains or odors you may need to use one of the methods below that are specific to the type of leather your purse is made from. After cleaning the interior, be sure to vacuum it thoroughly – especially if there are any crevices or hidden spaces. Finally, condition the leather with a quality product to help keep it looking and feeling its best. Follow these steps and your new purse will be fresh and ready to go!