Can Handbags Be Dry Cleaned?

Can Handbags Be Dry Cleaned?

No matter what, hand-cleaning high-end handbags, purses, wallets, and backpacks are always the better option.

Regardless of the type of dry cleaning equipment or the type of dry cleaning solvent used, high-end handbags, purses, wallets, and backpacks should never ever be dry cleaned in a dry cleaning machine.

Some dry cleaners nowadays claim to have a "special" dry cleaning machine that uses a "special" dry cleaning solvent. They'll also tell you they clean leather and suede items in that machine and with that solvent all the time to back up their claim.

That line, however, just isn't true.

Why shouldn’t they be dry cleaned?

You should never dry clean any high-end handbags in a dry cleaning machine.

They should preferably always be hand cleaned.

Here’s the reason why…

Imagine a dry cleaning machine as a type of large home washing machine. Except that:

  • A dry cleaning machine is around 20 times the size of a standard washing machine.

  • Instead of the regular water, a dry cleaning machine uses a dry cleaning solution or fluid.

  • A dry cleaning machine combines the wash, extract, and dry cycles into one unit.

  • During the wash cycle, the dry cleaning solvent is filtered in and out of the dry cleaning machine's wheel (ideally).

  • The handbag would have to go through the complete wash, extract, and dry cycle before being taken from the dry cleaning machine, depending on the dry cleaning solvent used… 

  • a 30-45 minute tumbling session.

Dry cleaning may lead to a disaster

Consider a GG fabric handbag a warning if you think it's alright to tumble a leather or leather-trimmed handbag in a dry cleaning machine for 30 to 45 minutes.

Gucci had referred to the owner of this purse.

She had dropped the handbag off at her local dry cleaner for cleaning as it was soiled, and she was quoted a price of $50 to "clean" her handbag.

According to the client, when she was questioned about the method for cleaning her handbag, she was told that they utilized a "special" leather cleaning cycle (washing, extracting, and drying) on a "special" dry cleaning equipment that used a "special" dry cleaning solvent. As a result, the purse was absolutely secure in their grasp.

The outcome was quite predictable:

  • The leather had begun to stiffen and pucker.
  • In numerous spots, the original off-white paint had vanished.
  • Several locations on the GG fabric were scuffed.
  • Fortunately, however, the plating on the hardware had not peeled or flaked off, despite it being scraped.

The takeaway

The lesson to be learned from this disaster scenario is actually straightforward:

Dry cleaning should never be used on high-end handbags, purses, wallets, or backpacks.

They should be cleaned by hand at all times. And only then by a cleaner who specializes in the cleaning and restoration of handbags, purses, wallets, and backpacks, and employs full-time handbag cleaning specialists who finish all work on-site (does not ship the work to an unknown, undisclosed, out-of-state subcontractor).

Ideas for cleaning a handbag

Here are a few ideas on how to clean handbags now that you know not to dry-clean them.

According to a study, bacteria can be found in more than 95% of handbags. As if that isn’t awful enough, viruses can survive for hours or even days on purse surfaces. The good news is that cleaning your handbag on a regular basis can assist in keeping microorganisms at bay. So even if you are now aware of not dry cleaning your bag this is how you go about cleaning your bag regularly.

Clean Out Your Handbag

Those old tissues and lipstick tubes are most likely only contributing to the germ count. It's also a lot easier to clean your handbag when there are fewer things in it. Remove everything from your handbag, making sure to get rid of anything outdated or inactive. Take some time to clean up your wallet as well.

Clean Your Payment Cards

Don't forget to disinfect your credit and debit cards, which are the dirtiest items in your luggage. Cleaning payment cards can be done with either soap and water or an EPA-approved disinfectant for killing viruses. Simply double-check that your signature is still visible. If not, dry the card and sign it again.

How Often to Clean Your Handbag

Once a week is a decent objective to aim towards as a general rule. You should clean your bag more frequently if it's in heavy rotation or if you're unwell (or afraid of getting sick). Do you only have time for a quick clean? Then wipe clean the handle and bottom of your purse, which are usually the dirtiest part of the handbag. If you're not in a hurry, give your purse a thorough cleaning inside and out — your bag will greatly benefit from it.

How to Clean Leather Handbags

Remove any surface dust and grime with a dry towel first. Apply a premium leather cleaner, such as Skidmore's Original Leather Cream, to another cloth and work it in with circular motions. Consider handbag wipes for quick and easy cleaning on the go.

How to Remove Leather Handbag Stains

Water stains can be removed by pressing a lint-free cloth over the stain and allowing it to dry. Ink stains can be removed by wiping them with a cotton ball dampened with rubbing alcohol. (First, perform a patch test in an inconspicuous location.) If it's an oil stain, blot it with a microfiber cloth and then cover it with corn starch overnight.

How to Clean Canvas Handbags

Hand wash your canvas bag in a basin of warm water with a few drops of dish detergent if it has a delicate print, leather trim, or any other particular feature. Rub any stains away with a plain white cloth immersed in the solution. After cleaning the canvas handbag, rinse it in cool water before wringing it out and allowing it to air dry.

If your bag has no special characteristics, you can machine wash it according to the manufacturer's instructions. (Use cold water on a low-speed setting if in doubt.) Allow the bag to air dry after treating any stains with dish detergent and water.

How to Clean Vinyl Handbags

In a cup of lukewarm water, combine a tablespoon of mild washing detergent. Then, using a sponge dipped in the solution, clean the entire bag. When you're finished, rinse the sponge and then soak it in plain water to remove the detergent. To dry the handbag, wipe it with a dry cloth. If a stain appears, apply a drop or two of laundry detergent straight to the stain and massage it away with your fingertips until the stain disappears. If you have an ink stain, spray some hairspray right on it. Allow for some time to pass before rubbing it out with a gentle cloth.