Step-by-Step: How to Remove Stains From Leather Purse Safely?

We all know the feeling: that moment you glance down and see a stain on your favorite leather purse.

But don’t panic.

Leather is a surprisingly resilient material, and with a few simple tricks, you can dismiss those stains.

Each type of stain requires a specific approach, so we’ve gathered practical tips to tackle the most common stains.

Whether it’s ink, grease, or the occasional spill, learning these methods will help maintain the appearance of your leather.

How to Remove Stains From Leather Purse Infographic

Preparing for Leather Stain Removal: Essential Steps

Here are some key preliminary steps:

1. Know Your Leather

Knowing what type of leather purse you have is the first step in treating it right.  Different leather types have varying degrees of toughness and require slightly different cleaning approaches: 

Full-grain leather: The toughest and most durable type. It can handle more aggressive cleaning methods if needed. This is the leather of my tote bag – it can take a beating!

Top-grain leather: A close second in terms of durability. It has a smooth, consistent surface and is a good candidate for most cleaning methods we’ll discuss.

Suede: This soft, fuzzy leather requires special care. Avoid using water or harsh chemicals on suede.

2. Different Kinds of Stains

Now, let’s talk about the enemies—stains. They come in all shapes and sizes, and knowing what kind you’re dealing with is crucial for effective removal:

Ink Stains: From pens accidentally leaving their mark.

Oil and Grease Stains: From food or even lotions and creams.

Water Stains: Yes, even water can leave marks on leather if not treated properly.

Food and Beverage Stains: Think coffee, wine, or that delicious pasta sauce.

Dye Transfer: From your jeans or other clothing onto the leather.

3. Immediate Action

The quicker you act, the better the chances of completely removing the stain.

If you notice a spill, blot it gently with a clean, dry cloth to absorb as much liquid as possible. 

4. Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3!

Before tackling the stain head-on, always perform a patch test on an inconspicuous area of your purse. If there’s no discoloration or change in texture, you’re good to proceed!

5. Prep Your Purse

Empty your purse to avoid spreading the stain further or damaging any loose items inside.

Gently brush off any dirt or debris with a soft brush. Now, you’re ready to wage war on that stain!

Key Precautions Before Removing Stains from Leather Purse

Trust me, taking these steps can save your leather purse from any unintended damage. After all, we want to remove the stains, not cause any more damage. Ready?

Use Mild Products: When cleaning leather, less is more. Stick to mild products like a gentle soap and distilled water. I love using a baby shampoo mixed with water. It’s gentle and effective without being too harsh.

Avoid Excess Moisture: Water can sometimes be a gentle cleaning option, but can also leave water stains if not handled properly

Blot, Don’t Rub: Blot, don’t rub, to keep your leather purse looking flawless and prevent the stain from spreading further.

Dry Naturally: Here’s the golden rule: always let your leather dry naturally! Avoid using heat sources like hair dryers, as they can dry out and damage the leather.

Step-by-Step Guide for Removing Stains from a Leather Purse 

We all love our leather purses, but accidents happen. Here’s your step-by-step guide to tackling different stains on your beloved leather purse.

Remember, patience is key, and always treat your leather with care

Materials Required:

  1. Soft cloths or microfiber cloths
  2. Mild soap (baby shampoo or gentle dish soap)
  3. Distilled water
  4. Rubbing alcohol
  5. Cornstarch or talcum powder
  6. Vinegar
  7. Leather cleaner
  8. Leather conditioner

1. Removing Ink Stains 

Ink stains can be tricky. Try these methods one at a time, starting with the gentlest.

Option 1: Rubbing alcohol – Our gentle warrior

Dab a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol. Remember, you’re not attacking the stain, but gently persuading it to leave.

Gently dab the stain, working from the outside inwards to avoid spreading the ink further.

Blot with a clean, damp cloth and dry completely.

Option 2: Nail polish remover (acetone-free)

Following the same method as rubbing alcohol, use a cotton swab dipped in a tiny amount of acetone-free nail polish remover. Seriously, a tiny amount! We’re talking a drop or two here.

First time I dealt with an ink stain on my leather bag. I was skeptical about using rubbing alcohol, but it worked like a charm

2. Removing Oil and Grease Stains 

Apply a generous amount of cornstarch or baking soda directly to the stain. Think of it like a magic powder absorbing the oil!

Let it sit for several hours, or overnight, to absorb the oil. Patience is key here.

Brush off the powder and wipe the area clean with a damp cloth.

3. Removing Water Stains 

Blot up excess liquid with a clean, absorbent cloth. The faster you act, the less likely the stain is to set in.

Stuff the purse with clean, white towels to absorb moisture and help it retain its shape. Newspaper can also work in a pinch.

4. Removing Food and Beverage Stains

Mix a few drops of mild dish soap with warm water.

Dampen a clean cloth in the solution and dab the stain gently. Don’t scrub, or you might spread the stain further.

Use a clean, damp cloth with plain water to remove any soap residue.

Allow the purse to air dry completely out of direct sunlight.

I had a near-heart attack moment when I spilled red wine on my favorite leather clutch at a party. A mild soap solution worked wonders, and I saved my clutch from a permanent stain.

5. Removing Dye Transfer 

Dye transfer from clothing can be frustrating but manageable.

Try baby wipes or a white eraser for light stains. For tougher ones, invest in a leather cleaner and always test in a hidden spot first.

6. Removing Mold and Mildew

Mix equal parts distilled water and rubbing alcohol. Dampen a cloth with the solution and gently wipe the moldy area.

Allow the purse to air dry completely in a well-ventilated area.

Finish by conditioning the leather to restore its natural oils.

7. Handling Tough and Set-In Stains

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, certain stains refuse to budge. In these cases, professional cleaning services can be a lifesaver.

I once had a cherished vintage leather bag stained with wine that I couldn’t remove at home. Eventually, I took it to a professional cleaner who not only removed the stain but also restored its original luster.

It was a bit pricey, but seeing my bag look as good as new was worth it.

Source: Popsugar TVFab YT Channel

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here’s what NOT to do when battling stains on your leather purse! These mistakes can turn a small stain into a leather disaster:

  • Resist the urge to scrub! Harsh scrubbing can spread the stain and damage the leather. Instead, use gentle dabs and circular motions.
  • Don’t grab random household cleaners. Harsh chemicals can strip the leather’s color and leave you with a bigger problem. Stick to leather-specific products.
  • Don’t let the stain sit! The fresher the stain, the easier it is to remove. The longer it sits, the more it sets into the leather.
  • Be mindful of colored leather. Some cleaning methods, like the white pencil eraser, can lighten the leather. Test on a hidden area first to avoid creating a new mess.

How to Prevent Stains on Your Leather Purse

Here are some strategies to prevent stains from even reaching your precious leather purse:

Using a good leather protector is like giving your purse a shield against stains. I make it a habit to apply one when I get a new purse and then touch it up regularly. It’s an easy step that pays off big time.

Invest in purse organizers or a purse insert. These help maintain the purse’s shape and prevent pens, keys, or makeup from leaving unwanted marks. When not using it, I store my purse in a dust bag.

Avoid placing your purse near stain sources like dark denim that might transfer color or greasy takeout containers.

Regularly wipe your leather with a soft, dry cloth to remove dust and dirt that can attract stains. Every once in a while, I treat my purse to professional cleaning and conditioning.

Source: Mel in Melbourne YT Channel


You now know all the tips and tricks to remove stains from your leather purse effectively.

Remember, quick action and gentle treatment are key when dealing with stains on leather.

Whether it’s ink, grease, or watermarks, a little bit of patience and the right products can go a long way in keeping your purse looking brand new.

So next time you have a slip-up and end up with a stain on your leather purse, don’t panic! Refer back to this guide, roll your sleeves, and get to work.

Your purse will thank you for it, and you’ll be able to flaunt it with pride once again.

Resources Consulted

James Chiles

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