Everybody knows at least to some extent that leather is a natural material that requires regular maintenance to keep it looking fresh. But can you wash leather? That is a question worth millions (or at least hundreds, depending on how much did you spend on your leather product) of dollars.
In short, the answer would be “sort of”. The safest way to wash your leather bag is to spot treat it or wipe it down with a leather-safe cleaner. Though if you are brave (or nuts), you can wash it in a washing machine using a special cleaner. This should only be reserved for very soiled leather bags that are practically unusable, therefore you’d be having nothing to lose in case it does get destroyed by water.
So, since the main leather cleaning method is a spot treatment, let’s cover it in greater detail.[Good Read: What to clean leather with?]
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Spot treatment is the safest way to clean your leather bag as you will only be treating the area that has been soiled. You will want to test out this method on a small, hidden area of the leather to make sure it does not damage your item. But in general it’s a safe and proven way to get the stains out of any leather product, not just bags and purses. Let’s cover spot treatment step by step, so that we minimize the potential for error.
Empty the Bag
Before you get started, you’ll want to empty the purse completely. If it is especially dirty, vacuum out the bag to get all the dirt and debris out.
We talk in greater detail on how to clean the inside of a leather purse here, which complements this article that you are reading right now perfectly.
Mix the Cleaning Solution
There are leather cleaning products, but you can also use warm water and dish soap as a gentle DIY cleaning solution.
We talk about 5 best leather cleaners for purses in this article, so if you are interested in finding something that works, you should certainly check it out.
Dip a cloth into the cleaning solution and gently clean the leather in circular motions. Be sure the cloth is not abrasive as this could scratch your leather. Wipe off any excess soap and water with a clean rag.
Let it Dry
Let your leather air dry before you use it. It can take some time, but it’s worth it. If it is feeling stiff, consider using a leather conditioner to restore some of its pliability. Too much water can make leather stiff, therefore you need to pay attention to how much water you are using.
Treating Specific Stains
Covering the subject on how to treat specific stains would take pages. Luckily for you, we have already done that. So, if you have specific stains that seem to be impossible to get rid of, try reading the following articles.
- Getting pen ink off, read here and here.
- Removing paint has never been easier following these steps.
- Got an old oil stain that you would like to remove? Check out this article.
These short and very valuable guides will get you started. Just keep in mind that not all stains are possible to remove.
For leather that is severely damaged, you may try washing it in a washing machine. This should be used as a last resort as you cannot test before see how your leather will react.
Put your bag in the washing machine and add about 1/4 cup of either Murphy’s Oil Soap or Castile soap. Wash using gentle or hand wash. After the cycle, take it out and let the bag air dry.
Once the bag is completely dried, apply a leather conditioner to nourish it which will help prolong the life of the leather.
So there you have it. Can you wash leather? If washing means putting it in a washing machine, then only as a last resort. If your leather bag is made out of bonded leather, you can rest assured that it will be annihilated after you get it out of the machine. But using spot treatment is perfectly safe as long as you follow basic leather cleaning rules.
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