how to condition your handbag

Does your designer leather bag need conditioning? How do you know? The answer to this question can best be answered by your boutique sales associate where you purchased your favorite bag.

Different types of leather require different care. So you need to know the type of material or leather you are dealing with. To remove stains or to refresh the look of your bag, best to ask the sales associate for care product use information as well as referrals on how to deal with the issue you have.

Vachetta leather, such as found on the trims of Louis Vuitton bags, are untreated leather and susceptible to staining from water and lotion and will turn into a darker patina with use. Using conditioners and oils will darken or even stain this type of leather. Also for instance, it would seem like crocodile bags, as crocodiles live in the water, you’d imagine it to be impervious to water stains. It can’t be further from the truth. Water can damage crocodile skin, so any type of care should be done by experts.

What we handbag carriers tend to forget is that leather used to be a living breathing thing and much like our skin gets dried and withered, sometime depending on the leather you have, you may need to apply a conditioner or give it some extra TLC.

Recommended Handbag Conditioning Products

Most designers have recommended products to use as well as frequencies to use them based on the type of bag and leather. Some brands even have their own conditioners and oils such as Coach and Bally.

coach leather cleaner and moisturizer

Coach Leather Cleaner ($10.00) and Coach Leather Moisturizer ($10.00) are available at the store as well as online.

bally lac polish velours freshener

Bally’s line of leather cleaners for shoes and different leathers range from leather wax to lotions.


Mulberry recommends using Collonil Leather Gel ($14.00) and Collonil Lack Polish ($14.00) and is available through their shops and online.

Some other leather care products that are well used and reputed for your leathers are Macpherson Leather Cadillac Boot & Shoe Care Leather Conditioner ($7.95) and Apple Brand Leather Care Kit Cleaner & Conditioner ($14.99).

Let’s get into some general tips on using a conditioner.


Before you begin to get your supplies to clean and condition your bag, set aside an area to do the task. What you’ll need is an area large enough to set your bag or bags and the conditioners, and let air dry as well.

What I recommend is to lay out a plastic table cloth or even a plastic shower curtain over a table for easy clean up in case you spill the conditioner. You’ll also need several soft cloths, such as microfiber cloths, one to condition and one to wipe excess, as well as to remove general dust.

Remove accessories such as rings and bracelets as you’ll be coming in contact with chemicals and oils and can dirty your objects. It is best to test on a inconspicuous area on the bag to ensure that the conditioner will not stain or remove the color, etc. Once you have tested it and there is no adverse effects, proceed with the steps below.

It is recommended to read the instructions and the applicable leathers the conditioner is meant for. If your leather product is not listed, consult an leather repair expert or discuss your issue with the boutique sales associate.

Although there aren’t a lot of hazardous chemicals in the cleaners and conditioners (oils and waxes) take care in avoiding getting into eyes or sensitive areas. As always with any cleaning products, keep away from children.


Remove surface dirt and dust with a dry soft wipe. Based on the type of leather, use the conditioner or oil recommended to remove built up grime and dirt in overly touched places.


Conditioning, much like moisturizing your skin, will dry out over time, but will go a long way to making the leather supple and soft. Use a small amount of conditioner on a soft cloth and gently rub all over. Work on the bag in small sections. Wipe off the excess after 10-30 minutes (depending on product instructions) and let the conditioner air dry.


To weatherproof your beloved bag to make it impermeable to water such as rain, use a colorless spray. A coat of Collonial Waterston + UV Protection will weather proof your leather against water damage. Inquire with the Sales Associate where you purchased the bag regarding weatherproofing. Or check forums of purse care discussion to see user feedback on the use of the water protectant on their specific bag.


Nourishing leather with a conditioner will renew the shine and suppleness of the leather, it will not remove large scratches and damage. It will clean the surface, polish and protect the leather from future minor scratches. For some superficial scratches a coat of conditioner will rub out the blemish.

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