Leather-made materials require special cleaning materials specifically made for leather. Not many people realize it, but almost all leather product owned can benefit from regular cleaning, conditioning, and care. Like all things, leather needs TLC. So, if you are one of those that owns a leather bag or any leather item, you might want to know how to care for them and make sure they are in tip-top shape.

People took some trial and error until they figured out what works best. So here is a list of leather bag cleaners that you might be interested in knowing.

Just an FYI, unless otherwise noted, these products are meant to care for smooth, pebbled, or untreated leather. They are not meant to be used for other materials such as suede or patent leather. Want to know what else? Read through the rest of the article, and you will find out our little secret.


Coach Leather Cleaner

Cadillac Leather Cleaner

Obviously, leather bags and shoes tend to be more resistant to dirt compared to fabric materials. However, this does not mean that leather cannot get dirty. There is also one important thing you need to know – never subject the leather to a soap and water cleaning. However, you can use a little leather cleaner to work its wonders. The two leather bag cleanersCoach Leather Cleaner & Cadillac Leather Cleaner, are the two top leather cleaning product on the market. This is a fact based on our research on different forums, these two names come up often.

What is great about these two cleaners, they are inexpensive and easy to use! Let it sit for about a half-hour, then wipe off dirt and product residue with a clean, soft cloth, and you’re done), and will remove far more filth from your shoes and bags than you ever realized was there — without damaging the leather at all. If your bags and boots are exposed on a regular basis to the salt that big cities use to melt snow and ice, frequent cleaning is a must — as salt can dry out and ruin your leather pieces in one single season.

Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes, 7 count

The bane of everyone who has ever owned a light-colored handbag is color transfer. If you’ve ever carried a white or beige purse while wearing dark denim, you know what I’m talking about. The dye from clothing can do a number on your bag, and it’s not always easy to remove. I like to use an escalating series of products to get it out, starting with the gentlest one there is, and bringing out the big guns only if necessary. In most cases, using the inexpensive, alcohol-free baby wipes from Simple Skincare is enough to get a fresh dye stain out of leather. Work the wipe into the leather in firm circular motions, then let it dry overnight to see how much it removed. (It may seem as if it didn’t remove everything at first, but the stain will likely lighten up overnight as the product gets to work.)

Lord Sheraton Leather Wipes Pack (24) — Pack of 2

If you’re still stuck with a stain, kick your efforts up a notch by using a leather cleaning wipe. I like these by Lord Sheraton — they once got a shocking amount of denim dye out of a white Gucci bag I’d owned for exactly eight hours.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, 8 Count

If all else fails, it may be worth giving the nuclear option a try: Hit the stain with a Mr. Clean Eraser, taking care to go slow — and don’t use it any more than you need to in order to get the stain out, as it can tend to suck the oil out of leather. Conditioning afterward will help, but you always run the risk that your leather won’t be quite as shiny as it was before.


Cadillac Select Leather Lotion Cleaner and Conditioner

Leather bags and shoes all started out life as a hide on an actual live animal, so they are prone to becoming dry, dull, and cracked — unless you keep them conditioned and moisturized. Some modern leather goods are already coated with a sealant that gives them an invisible, impenetrable barrier against drying out, but it can deteriorate over time — and you’ll want to make absolutely sure that the leather underneath remains in good shape, so conditioning is still a must. My go-to product for conditioning high-end leather goods is Cadillac’s Select Leather Lotion, and it was actually recommended to me by a sales associate at the famous 31 Rue Cambon Chanel boutique. Chanel likes to say that their leather items don’t need any care whatsoever, but when pressed, this is the one they begrudgingly recommended. I use it on my fanciest handbags, prized leather motorcycle jacket, and small leather goods (like my wallet). This stuff brings back the smooth, supple feeling these items had when I bought them — and never leaves a waxy buildup. It literally sinks into the leather’s pores and brings it roaring back to life.

Moneysworth & Best Leather Lotion

For boots, shoes, belts, and larger leather travel bags that take a beating due to heavy use, I like this Moneysworth & Best all-in-one cleaner and conditioner — as it makes the whole maintenance process miles faster. I’m usually against two-in-one products for leather care, as they are either way too harsh or just don’t do anything at all, but this one manages to be gentle yet effective at the same time.


Apple Brand Gardé Rain & Stain Repellent

A guiding strategic offensive principle of war is that the best defense is always a good offense, but it’s also true in leather care as well. Another excellent product the PurseForum denizens turned me onto is Apple Brand’s Gardé Rain & Stain Repellent (it’s something the Cut’s Diana Tsui has recommended), meant to be used before you ever take a new handbag or pair of shoes out for their inaugural spin. The word repellent is a bit of a misnomer, though, as no product can completely keep rain at bay; all you’re really doing is improving the item’s ability to withstand water. I like Apple’s silicone-based spray over old-fashioned mink-oil-based waterproofers, as oil will almost always darken leather. Apply it in light coats using a wide, steady, sweeping motion, holding the can at least eight inches away from your bag or shoes, and allow it to dry a good 12 hours before using the item. It might look like it’s darkening or spotting your leather as it dries, but it will eventually dry perfectly clear. You’ll need to reapply it every year or so, depending on how much wear and tear your item gets.

By Leonel Thompson

Anna Thompson: Anna, a former fashion editor, offers readers a curated look into the world of high fashion. Her blog features runway analysis, designer profiles, and style tips.