cleaning a white leather bag

How To Clean White Leather Bags & Purses: A Comprehensive Guide

A white leather bag is a perfect accessory when paired with formal and elegant outfits. However, one tedious problem with a white leather bag is its light color, which makes it susceptible to visible dirt marks, scuffing, and yellowing over time.

As opposed to darker leather bags, dirt marks and effects of aging are much easier to spot on white-colored ones. Therefore, you should use special cleaning methods and products that are suitable for white leather.

Whenever you clean or condition your white leather bag, you should do it with the utmost care. This is because certain leather cleaning products can cause the leather to darken. 

This guide is designed to teach you the right steps to clean white leather bags and purses. We’ll also share with you which products are safe to use and some best practices that yield the best results.

1. Remove All Contents 

The first step to cleaning your white leather bag is to remove all contents from inside it. This will give you much better access to all areas of your bag, as you work to clean all of its components – especially the interior lining. 

You can also prevent damage to your items that are fragile, such as cosmetics or electronics, among many others. Therefore, place the contents of your bag on the side while you move on to the next step.

2. Clean the Interior Lining

To clean your leather bag’s interior lining, you will need a lint roller. After you have removed all contents, pull the lining of the bag out (so that it’s inside out) and remove any debris stuck to it with your fingers. 

cleaning interior lining of a white leather bag

For finer impurities, use the lint roller to pull out the dust, hair, or dirt settled in the bottom of the bag until it is completely clean.

The best way to do this is to place the interior lining onto your palm (as support) and use firm pressure when using the lint roller. 

3. Spot-Treat Stains & Spots

Before cleaning the exterior of your leather bag, you need to focus on clearing away any marks, stains, and spots on it. If you do not clean them first, you may end up with smudges caused as these types of marks are easily visible on white leather. 

There are different methods for cleaning each type of stain from white leather bags. Each technique differs due to the nature of the stain. Since streaks and spots are pronounced on white leather, we recommend you pay close attention to the following steps carefully for optimal results.

Ink Stains

The best way to clean ink stains from your white leather bag is to use rubbing alcohol (also called isopropyl alcohol). Rubbing alcohol can be used with a microfiber cloth to lift the dark ink stains off from the white leather, without damaging the material. Make sure that you try diluting it with water first.

You can also use a nail polish remover to clean the stain, but you must conduct a spot check beforehand on an inconspicuous area of the bag to ensure it will not damage the leather. Ensure that the nail polish remover is acetone-free, as acetone can damage your leather

To clean ink stains from white leather, blot the rubbing alcohol solution using a microfiber cloth and ensure not to rub or spread the stain. Dab on the spot repeatedly until the stain is completely removed from the area. 

After that, you can simply use a damp cloth to clear any rubbing alcohol residue. Be careful not to rub or smear the stain. 

Scuff Marks

Scuff marks are common marks on leather bags that occur through friction or light abrasion with other objects. To clean scuff marks from your white leather bag, you’ll need baking soda, some warm water, and a clean cloth. 

Take one to two tablespoons of baking soda mixed with a small amount of warm water and form a consistent paste. Apply the paste onto the scuff mark and polish the spot with a cloth. 

After the mark has been completely removed, dampen a clean side of the fabric to wipe away the excess paste from the white leather bag. 

Mold & Mildew

To clean mold or mildew from your white leather bag, you need a potent solution that will remove all the microbes. We recommend mixing 1 part of white vinegar with 1 part of water to form a powerful mold removal mixture. 

Dampen a clean cloth with the mixture and apply it directly to the affected area. Wipe away the mold slowly, ensuring not to spread it to other clean areas. After confirming the area is completely clear of mold or mildew, let your leather completely dry before the next step.

Dirt & Other Stains

If you notice dirt or any other stains on your white leather bag, you need to use a simple soap-based solution to clear them from the surface. We recommend using saddle soap for dirt stains, as it contains many types of natural cleaning compounds.  

Use a clean microfiber cloth with some saddle soap and wipe away the dirt stains on your white leather bag. If the stain is much larger, place some newspaper inside the empty bag to aid in cleaning and drying.

Use a clean and dry cloth to wipe the bag afterward and remove any residue on it. Ensure that you don’t smear any stains across your leather bag. 

4. Use a Leather-Friendly Cleaner & Conditioner

Since leather is sensitive and porous, it can quickly absorb any harmful ingredients present in some of the spot cleaning mixtures. These damaging elements (for example water and rubbing alcohol) can cause the leather to dry out, fade, or even begin peeling. 

The best way to prevent these unwanted effects is to use a leather conditioner after cleaning. A leather conditioner replenishes leather with essential oils and nutrients that keep it supple, shiny, and beautiful. It’s also an excellent cleaning solution for your entire bag after the stains have been removed. 

You can also use a two-in-one leather-friendly cleaner and conditioner to clean the entire exterior of your white leather bag since it contains tested safe ingredients for leather. 

We recommend using the KevianClean Leather Cleaner & Conditioner for cleaning white leather bags. It contains natural ingredients and has a tested formula that works well on various types of leather. 

The best part about this conditioner is that you can apply it easily without fearing discoloration on your white leather purse or bag. According to our tests, it works particularly well on white leather. 

Applying a Cleaner to Your White Leather Bag

Before applying a leather cleaner and conditioner, ensure that your bag has dried completely after spot cleaning. Shake the contents of the bottle and squeeze a small amount of leather conditioner on a clean microfiber cloth. 

Then, rub the product in circular motions and cover the entire leather surface. Let the product rest for a few minutes on the leather to allow tough oils and grime to break down. 

clean underside of white leather bag
Cleaning The Underside
cleaning sides of white leather bag
Cleaning The Sides

It’s also important that you clean all components of your leather bag (apart from the interior lining, which you should have already taken care of). Evenly clean the sides, flaps, the underside, and also the leather straps.  

cleaning white leather bag straps
Cleaning The Strap

Wipe the cleaning and conditioning product from your white leather bag and buff it with a clean cloth for a fabulous finish, to make it look as good as new!

5. Let It Dry Naturally

The best way to dry freshly cleaned leather is to air dry it. Place your white leather bag away from direct sunlight in a dry, clean, cool, and well-ventilated area. Putting your leather bag in cramped, moist, and warm environments can cause it to lose its shape and potentially promote mold growth. 

On the other hand, direct sunlight can cause UV damage to the leather and leave it dry, cracked, and faded. 

The best places to dry your white-colored leather bag at home are:

  • On a shaded balcony or verandah
  • Near a breezy window or door
  • On a shaded patio
  • On a shaded rack placed outside

If you want to learn more about how to store leather bags properly, make sure to read our detailed guide, as it contains innovative storage ideas that you should make use of.

Best Practices for Cleaning White Leather Bags: The Dos and Don’ts!

Most people do not realize that cleaning white leather is trickier than cleaning darker shades of leather. This is why people often end up making mistakes and discoloring expensive white leather bags, by smearing stains and marks. 

Remember that any type of stains are more visible on white leather bags and that’s why you’ll need to pay special attention to cleaning white-colored leather. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Use Specialized Products for White Leather – If you want to adopt the safest cleaning method for a white leather bag, you should use a dedicated leather cleaner and conditioner that is designed to clean white leather. It can safeguard the white texture of your leather bag while ensuring no stains or marks can affect its color.
  • Spot-Treat Before Cleaning – Spot-treating marks, scuffs, and splotches can help you avoid any streaking of the impurities on the leather as you clean the exterior. Spot treating also allows you to assess the damages due to spills and dirt marks before moving on to cleaning the entire leather bag.
  • Avoid Cleaning Solutions That Discolor – White leather bags should never be conditioned with natural oils such as coconut and neatsfoot oil. Both of these products can nourish leather but are known to significantly darken the shade of your bag. Therefore, keep in mind that white-colored leather may discolor when treated with neatsfoot or coconut oil.

What Other People Asked

Here are some interesting questions that were submitted by our readers. If you would like to have your questions added, simply get in touch with us and we’ll make sure to answer them.

How Often Should I Clean White Leather Bags?

We recommend spot-cleaning specific dirt spots or stains immediately to prevent permanent discoloration. You can use appropriate cleaning solutions to clear marks as often as needed. 

For more thorough cleaning, we recommend doing it every two to four weeks, depending on the frequency of use and how you store it.

Can I Use Any Leather-Friendly Cleaner?

You can use any leather-friendly cleaner for your white leather bag that does not discolor it. Although leather-friendly cleaners contain safe ingredients for sustaining the material’s texture, some elements can darken or discolor the leather. 

To ensure you have chosen the best product, it’s best to read the label, product description, and reviews carefully to ensure that it doesn’t discolor.

About Gerrit

Co-Founder, Researcher & Writer At Leatherskill

I’m a leather enthusiast who spends most of his free time crafting, researching, and writing about the many facets of this versatile material. Thanks for reading!