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How To Disinfect Your Leather Accessories

How To Disinfect Your Leather Accessories

Because of the pandemic, we’re all a little more aware of the different pathogens that can make us sick. Whether you’re washing your hands more often, cleaning off surfaces, or avoiding any unnecessary touching, you know exactly why proper hygiene is so important and how to best keep things sanitary.

But when it comes to your leather accessories, you might have a few more questions. Can leather spread germs? How did it even get germs on it in the first place? What is the best way to disinfect leather? And what’s the worst that can happen if I use bleach? 

To answer these questions, we compiled this guide. This guide will not only help to keep your leather accessories hygienic but in their best possible shape.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the hows and whys of keeping your leather accessories in their most hygienic condition. 

Do Germs Live on Leather?

When we talk about germs, we refer to tiny organisms—bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa—that can cause an infection. They’re a normal part of life and can be found pretty anywhere there’s life. 

But while many are relatively harmless (and even beneficial), other germs are best to be avoided. And in a post-COVID world, we’re all hyper-aware of why this is the case. 

The question in the back of everyone’s minds is probably how long do germs live on surfaces? Well, that largely depends on which type of germ we’re talking about. Viruses live on surfaces for only a few days. On the other hand, many types of bacteria can survive for months. 

When it comes to COVID, one of the most threatening viruses today, it can live on leather surfaces for up to eight days. While you may have caught wind of debates on COVID transmission, no one can rule out the possibility of getting infected after touching a contaminated surface.

Although germs live the longest on non-porous surfaces (which leather definitely isn’t), your leather accessories can still harbor germs that you don’t want. Knowing what we know about all the types of germs that exist in the world, it’s likely that your trusty leather accessories can be contaminated with microbes that can make you sick. 

The Different Ways To Contaminate Your Leather Accessories

Because we carry them with us everywhere, there are countless ways we can contaminate our leather accessories.

Take a look at some of these ways that your leather can come into contact with germs: 

Leaving Your Bag on the Floor

The type of floor surface doesn’t make too much of a difference. Public bathrooms, restaurants, parks, and even your own home can harbor tons of germs. Leaving your bag on the floor (even for a brief period of time) can lead to surface-to-surface transmission. This is what makes purse hooks so important these days. 

Putting Your Wallet on a Countertop

If you have a habit of putting your wallet down on a countertop when buying someone, then you’re probably increasing your chances of getting germs on it.

Pathogens can absolutely transfer from those surfaces to your wallet, which you’re constantly touching. For this reason, it’s best to keep your wallet in your hands at all times when in public. 

Placing Your Bag or Wallet on the Kitchen Table

Even though it’s in your own home, the kitchen table can harbor many microbes from various sources. This is especially true if you cook. Meat and even some produce can spread bacteria that live on surfaces for a long time if not properly disinfected. 

Putting Cash Inside Your Wallet

When you consider how many circulations a dollar bill makes before it ends up in your hands, you won’t be surprised to know of the pathogens that money harbors. Add to this the fibrous material of our currency, and you have the perfect breeding ground for microbes. 

Touching a Contaminated Surface, Then Your Leather

On a daily basis, we come in contact with a lot of different surfaces. For instance, there are door handles, elevator buttons, and shopping carts. It’s not uncommon to immediately touch your bag, wallet, or belt right after. It’s for this reason that purse handles are notorious for harboring germs.

Not Cleaning Out Your Bag

All the things you carry around in your bag have the potential to be contaminated, too. If you have an arsenal of daily must-haves in your bag and haven’t gotten around to disinfecting them, then there’s another potential source of microbes for you to consider.

Not Using a Leather Purse

We’re not surprised about this finding at all, but researchers found that microbes live longer on synthetic surfaces than they do on natural ones.

Indeed, full grain leather is the least likely purse material to harbor microbes. This gives us just another of many reasons to love leather. 

How To Disinfect Your Leather Accessories

Air Them Out

Bacteria thrive in warm, humid, and anaerobic environments. For this reason, leaving your leather accessories out in well-ventilated areas—such as outdoors in the fresh air—is one of the best things you can do. As an added bonus, this is a great solution to getting odd smells out of your leather.

Leave Them Out in the Warmth

Coronaviruses thrive in cold weather. In other words, the colder the temperature, the longer the lifespan of the virus. For this reason, warmer temperatures are a good solution to weakening and eventually getting rid of them. Just be careful not to leave your leather goods in the sun where they risk cracking. 

Wipe Them with a Damp Cloth

When it comes to cleaning your leather accessories, being gentle is key. Use warm soapy water and a microfiber cloth to wipe the surface of your leather accessories. To avoid warping the leather, take a dry cloth and wipe off any excess moisture. 

Condition Your Leather Accessories

Once you have cleaned your leather with soap and water, it’s time to take an extra step in leather care to keep it in top condition. While you can use many household products, we recommend using a Leather Cream to condition your accessories. 

While these are all the ways to disinfect your leather, we also want to bring up things that you shouldn’t do under any circumstances. We’ve seen well-intentioned owners of leather accessories commit a few of these mistakes and want to keep you from doing the same.

So, try to avoid doing the following when disinfecting your leather: 

Don’t Use Bleach, Ammonia, or Rubbing Alcohol

We get that industrial cleaning products are guaranteed to clean your surfaces of any microbes, and we absolutely encourage you to clean your floors and countertops with them. With that being said, leather doesn’t do well if cleaned with these harsh chemicals.

These products can cause the leather to lose its natural hue, become warped, and change its shape. So we would avoid these cleaning products at all costs.

Don’t Soak Your Leather Accessories

Another well-intentioned disinfecting effort is completely soaking leather in a disinfecting solution. You may think that it’s safe because full-grain leather is water-resistant.

However, submerging your leather goods in water can still damage them, which is why it should be avoided. Instead, stick to gently wiping off leather surfaces. 

Don’t Scrub

To preserve your leather’s natural color and texture, it’s best to avoid scrubbing it. Not only will it not make a difference in disinfecting it, but it can cause some serious damage, too. Gentle wiping is the way to go. 

Don’t Use Artificial Drying Tools

If you want to speed up your leather’s drying process, you may be tempted to dry it artificially with a hairdryer or another tool. This is a flawed idea: these can be extremely harsh and potentially lead to cracking and warping. Rather, let your leather goods dry out naturally. Better yet, leave them outside if it’s warm enough.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Especially in the summer, the sun’s rays can be very harsh on leather. So, while leaving your leather accessories outside is all good, make sure they’re not directly under the sunlight. 

Keep Your Leather Accessories Clean

Hopefully, this detailed guide provided you with everything you need to know about the connection between your leather accessories and pesky microbes.

Tons of pathogens are able to live on your leather accessories (including coronaviruses). Since we carry our EDC with us everywhere we go, they can be a significant collector of microbes.

Thankfully, leather is still the best material when it comes to pathogens. And with our tips for disinfecting it, you can rest easy knowing that your leather accessories can be as clean as you want them to be.  


Our Sources:

How Long Do Nosocomial Pathogens Persist on Inanimate Surfaces? | NCBI 

REALM project - Research | OCLC 

COVID-19 rarely spreads through surfaces. So why are we still deep cleaning? | Nature 

A Study to Investigate the Importance of Purses as Fomites | NCBI 

Dirty Money | Scientific American