A few months ago I found this yellow leather handbag by Cynthia Rowley at T.J. Maxx and simply HAD TO HAVE IT. It was a little pricier than I normally pay for a purse, but not as astronomical as if I had been paying RETAIL. I just couldn’t resist the soft yellow color and the overall shape and design of the bag. It quickly became my very FAVORITE purse!
Unfortunately, after several business trips (including 2 to New York City) it was looking pretty abused. As much as I LOVE the color of this bag, it’s also incredibly impractical for keeping clean. Especially when I’m dragging it through airports, shuttle buses, taxi cabs, parking lots, restaurants, etc.
Before my most recent trip to Austin, Texas for BlogHer Food ’13 I sadly emptied my favorite purse and hung it up in the laundry room until I could figure out what to do with it. I just couldn’t take it with me. I felt terrible.
Ever since then, every time I walk by it hanging on a peg in the laundry room I hear it calling out to me, “Help me!” lol. But I had no idea what to do! Earlier attempts at spot cleaning were not successful and it needed a lot more than just SPOT cleaning now.
I probably should have taken it to a professional leather cleaner (not that I’ve ever heard of one of those before), but you know me, I want to do it myself. (Hmmmmmm…just realized that the acronym for “do it myself” is DIM…maybe we’re onto something here! lol)
So I devoted some time out of my crazy busy day yesterday to research how to clean a leather purse, because my yellow friend was depending on me! After many, many unsatisfactory answers, I came across a post by Serene at Elegant Bohemian about how she washed her leather Coach bag in the WASHING MACHINE!
At first I was certain I had read it wrong, but no, I hadn’t. She had taken a leather Coach bag that was in much the same shape as my beloved Cynthia Rowley bag (basically headed to the donation pile) and decided to give it a spin in the washer. Since her post only shows “After” pictures, I had to take her word for the results. But with a name like Serene, how could I go wrong! ;-) So off to the laundry room I went, to either give my purse a new lease on life or sign it’s death certificate.
HUGE DISCLAIMER: This worked for me, but that certainly doesn’t guarantee it will work for everyone. As a matter of fact, I can hear professional cleaners all over the world GROANING after reading this post. It’s definitely a method to be reserved for items that are in that “what have I got to lose?” category. Proceed at your own risk. :-)
Completely clean out your bag. Make sure you check all those little pockets!
Pour about 1/4 cup castile soap into the washing machine, drop in bag, set washer to GENTLE CYCLE (or hand wash cycle…something along those lines), and turn it on.
Now walk away go douse yourself in Zen essential oil blend to quell the anxiety you are now feeling! :-) Breathe deeply too!
When the cycle is done, you can either toss the bag in the dryer on LOW heat with some big, fluffy towels for 5-10 minutes, then hang to dry….OR…you can take it outside (if it’s a nice, sunny day like it was at my house!) and let it dry in the sunshine.
When your bag is completely dry, protect it with some leather conditioner. (I haven’t done this step YET.)
As you can see, the washer actually WORKED! Much to my surprise there was a HUGE improvement! Not PERFECT, but vastly improved and definitely good enough to take out in public again! :-)
I might have gotten a little choked up as I hung it back up in the laundry room last night, restored to it’s former glory. I think I might have even heard it humming a happy little tune. ;-)