Your leather purse holds a little bit of everything: money, makeup and even food. It's no surprise, then, when the bag starts to smell less than fresh. Cash and coins carry odor-causing bacteria, for example. Food crumbs can rot, causing a bad smell in the purse that never seems to go away. Cleaning your purse thoroughly is the best way to remove strong odors and make the bag smell nice again.

Step 1

Empty the purse of its contents. Hold the purse upside-down over a garbage can, then shake it to remove crumbs and other debris. Alternatively, use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice attachment to remove the crumbs.

Step 2

Brush the outside of the purse with a soft cloth to remove dust and loose dirt.

Step 3

Make a solution of one part vinegar and one part water. Pour the vinegar-water mixture into a spray bottle. Mist the inside and outside of the purse with the vinegar-water solution. You don't need to rinse -- the vinegar will lose its pungent smell once it's dry.

Step 4

Apply a dab of leather cleaner or saddle soap to a clean cloth. Massage the cleaner into the outside of the purse using small, circular motions. Wipe away any excess cleaner with another cloth.

Step 5

Rub some leather conditioner into the outside of the purse. The conditioner prevents the leather from drying out after cleaning.

Step 6

Dampen a new cloth with lukewarm water, then squeeze out any excess moisture. Wipe the inside fabric of the purse with the damp cloth. Allow the fabric to dry.

Step 7

Wet the cloth again, then wipe down the purse's zippers, clasps, handles and other hardware. Wipe the hardware dry with a clean cloth.

Step 8

Fill a plastic baggie or an old sock partway with baking soda. Set the baking soda inside the purse, then seal the purse inside a larger bag. Let the baking soda set for one or two days to absorb bad odors. Dry, ground coffee and activated charcoal eliminate odors too.


  • If an odor is very strong, try freezing your purse. Freezing kills odor-causing bacteria and eliminates bad smells. To do this, put the purse in a sealed bag to protect it from moisture. Put it in the freezer for several hours, then remove.