A quality leather handbag will last for years and years, just as long as you take care of it properly. Now, if you have treated yourself (or received as a gift) to an extremely expensive leather purse, then do not attempt to clean it yourself – the same goes for suede leather bags. Suede can be very difficult to clean and unless you want to take the chance of ruining it forever, do yourself a favor and leave it to the pros. That being said, we have some tips to help you get through a basic purse cleaning.
Start the cleaning process by emptying out the handbag, turning it over a trash can to shake out of all the loose crumbs, lint, etc. If there is any debris remaining inside, grab some of the sticky sheets off of a lint roller and dab it at the crumbs leftover on the inside.
For the outside, mix distilled water with a very small amount of liquid soap, just use enough to make suds when mixed - it really does not take much. Then dip a soft, lint-free, cloth or natural sponge (no dye) into the water and wring it until just damp. Wipe down the leather with the cloth and follow up by immediately drying the leather with another clean, dry cloth. Wiping should be done gently and in a circular motion.
There are commercial products available and a popular one used for cleaning saddles and riding gear is called Lexol. They make the leather cleaner in several different forms, sprays, liquids and wipes.
A good way to extend the life of any leather product is to use a leather conditioner and protector. They also come in different forms (sprays, creams) and formulas for different types of suede and leather.
If you plan to cover your leather handbag, or clothing when storing, make sure you use a breathable fabric like cotton and stay away from plastic. Also be sure to store it in a temperature controlled environment (cool and dry). Storing in heat or damp areas can lead to cracking and mold.