How To Clean Your Handbag

Oh, chickies. Things are about to get gritty today.

It pains me to have to be the one to inform you that you are currently carrying around a hot little cluster of bacteria. You’re taking it with you in the car, in public bathrooms, in the gym, in the mall. Totin’ around a ton of germs.

It’s your handbags, dears, and they’re dirty, real dirty. How dirty? Read on.

Microbiologist Amy Karen of Nelson Labs decided to look at a little closer at those pocketbooks, and what she found ain’t pretty. Almost all of the handbags she tested were high in bacteria, including pseudomonas, which can cause eye infections, staphylococcus aurous, which can cause serious skin infections, and salmonella and e-coli. The other type of bacteria hanging out on your handbags? You guessed it! Poop. Suddenly that shiny new Marc Jacobs isn’t looking so shiny, is it?

The worst offender out of Amy’s test group belonged to a frequenter of nightclubs. The bag contained  ‘Some type of feces, or possibly vomit’ says Amy.

That’ll teach you to stay home at night.

Miss Microbiologist also said that leather or vinyl handbags tended to be cleaner than cloth handbags, which may be something to keep in mind during your next purse purchase.

Alright, so I’ve scared you all out of your wits and grossed your out thoroughly. Check. Now to remedy this situation. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

Please consult “Handbag Storage Demystified” for further information on item 8.

And now for a few guidelines specific to the material of your handbag:

Cleaning Leather Handbags

– Empty the bag completely.

– Check the bag closely for stains. If you find any, identify what made the mark, and then choose a stain treatment appropriate to that substance.

– The majority of stains may be treated with a paste made from one part cream of tartar and one part lemon juice. Apply to paste to the stain and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Wipe away with a clean cloth.

– For ink stains, use a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol to gently blot at the area until the ink disappears.

– For grease stains, apply a layer of cornstarch over the area and allow it to absorb for a few minutes. Repeat this until the stain has disappeared.

– For general cleaning, dilute some mild liquid soap in a cup of filtered water. Use a gentle cloth free of dyes to wipe the outside of the bag down.

– Condition your bag periodically with a leather protector. You can also make a mixture of one part white vinegar with two parts linseed oil, and rub that onto the bag with a clean white cloth using small circular motions. Allow the solution to soak into the leather for 10-15 minutes, and then wipe the bag with a clean, dry cloth.

Cleaning Fabric Handbags

– Empty the bag of all contents and shake out any crumbs or debri.

– Using some warm water and a gentle detergent such as Woolite, wipe down the bag with a clean, white cloth.

– Blot at any stains as you go until they lift.

– Allow the bag to air dry.

– Protect the bag by applying a fabric protectant such as Scotchgard.

* * *

I do so hope that helps, dearies. Happy Tuesday!

Image credits: Wendy’s Lookbook, Le FashionReal Simple, Chic Steals, Anthropologie



  1. Like

  2. This is so timely because today as I left the house for work I was thinking how I need to clean my Chloe that I got last September! I’ve never cleaned it before and I started to get freaked out. How funny is that?!? I nearly fell over when I saw the title of the post! Thanks for the tips, sweets! xoxo

  3. Uh oh. I’ve been carrying the same bag for years and haven’t cleaned the outside once. Ewww. Good excuse to get a new bag! :)

  4. I definitely need to do some of this- and my shoes could use some cleaning too! Count me as your newest follower!

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