Lovin my bags has a long list of great tips for handbag care!!!

Some leathers are just prone to staining. Naked leathers or as some call them unfinished leathers and vegetable tanned leathers are all susceptible to absorbing water and oil creating stains. Not to mention what happens with spills like coffee or wine...ouch!

FINISHED LEATHERS (do not darken with water)
  1. Use warm water with a little vinegar for wiping off dust and some dirt. Make sure the leather is finished (does not darken with water!) Most leather cleaners on the market are pH 10 while leather has a pH of 4.5. These cleaners may be OK for car leather, but not for handbags. They will alter the leather chemistry causing pH damage (recognizable by the spongy texture and cracking).
  2. For ink stains: use a white eraser right away; caution: do not rub vigorously rather rub gently and softly. If the ink is not moving, then it has to be corrected professionally.
  3. Do NOT use alcohol to remove ink stains. It will smear the ink and may remove the leather color as well.
  4. Do NOT use saddle soap. It is very alkaline (pH over 10) and will attach the leather finish and affect the pH of the leather. Good for saddles which are much harder and thicker than handbag leather.
  5. For other spot soiling use the white eraser, it is effective in removing many different types of dirt; again be gentle with the rubbing.
  6. For oil stains, use corn starch. Rub in; let corn starch absorb the oil. Use a light bulb to create some heat, this will facilitate the absorption of the oil into the cornstarch. Brush off with a soft tooth brush. Repeat until all oil has been removed. (This is a messy job...be prepared by setting up on newspaper :-)
  7. Keep your bag OUT of direct sunlight. Many leathers will fade when overexposed to sun and its UV rays!
  8. To remove odor from handbags, spray bag with Lysol (linen scent is not too bad) and place a container of baking soda inside the bag. The larger the surface area the better. Heat will help release the odor, so the baking soda can absorb it, while Lysol neutralizes the odor. Leave for 24 hours. Lovin my Bags odor out bag candies are designed to remove smoke odors.
UNFINISHED LEATHERS (darken with water)
  1. Do NOT use hand creams or lotions on your leather. Even though these are great for your skin, they contain oils and waxes that are not compatible with leather. You may get a darkening effect that you desire, but it will attract dirt and soil. Oils except for sulfanated oils will cause leather to rot over time
  2. Do NOT use baby wipes, or any other wipes on this type of leather, as they are likely to stain.
  3. If you get oil on your handbag, put corn starch on it immediately. Rub it in so it absorbs the oil. Use a light source to create heat for faster absorption of the oil into the cornstarch. Brush off with a soft toothbrush.
  4. For ink stains and other dirt, use a white eraser and rub the spot gently. Usually if you get the ink right away you can remove all of it. Ink migrates into the leather fibers so once it is set, it needs professional care.
  5. For water stains, there is really no at home solutions unfortunately. You can try "massaging" the leather by pulling and folding gently. This may diminish the appearance of the stain lines. This can be repaired by a professional leather technician.
  6. Use a pre-treatment on your handbag as soon as you get it. There are a few available: 3M based products can work if you are looking for a spray on option (this option wears off fairly quickly and must be reapplied regularly); Lovin My Bags pre-treatment is formulated as a rub on, and contains a higher concentration of active ingredients.
  7. Do NOT use any over the counter leather cleaners on your unfinished leather bag as they will stain.