We’ve all got a leather wallet that feels like an extension of our being. It travels with us everywhere and endures all the challenges and triumphs of our daily lives.
As expected, our wallets also take some tough love along the way and can get dirty from daily use, even if they’re made with top-quality materials. It’s important to care for your wallet just as you would any other clothing or accessories you own.
We know how to wash our shirts and sheets, but how on Earth do you clean a leather wallet properly to maximize its lifespan? Here are some quick tips and tricks you need to know.
Cleaning Basics To Memorize
When cleaning leather wallets, there’s a simple routine you need to follow. First, empty the wallet fully and disinfect your cards with a light wash of soap and water. Your cards attract dirt, oil, and all sorts of nasty germs, and these make their way into the crevasses of your wallet, so clean them off ASAP.
Next, prepare a small basin of warm water with dish soap, and lather it up to create some bubbles. Use a soft cloth to dip, dab, and wipe the exterior of your wallet with extreme care. Don’t let too much water soak in, and remember that a little goes a long way.
Soap will stay on the surface of the wallet, so wipe it away with a separate damp cloth, then dry everything off with a third cloth. Yes, you’ll need three cloths to do the job, but it’s worth it.
Finally, when the exterior of the wallet is clean and dry, you can start brushing away at the dirt and residue found in the individual folds of the wallet. Use a mini lint roller or some double-sided tape to get into all those nooks and crannies.
You can find specific fabric brushes as well if you intend on frequent cleaning, which we recommend. The longer you go without cleaning your wallet, the more of a challenge it will be to give it a proper deep clean.
Avoid ammonia and other harsh chemicals, take your time with the process, and always air on the side of caution when dealing with quality leather. As you get used to the ins and outs of your wallet, things will get easier, and you can wash with more confidence.
When you’ve finished, try conditioning your wallet with leather oil or wax. Just like your favorite pair of dress shoes, this will give it an undeniable shine and layer of protection.
Remove Ink Stains And Scuffs
Sometimes soap and water are not going to do the trick for tough stains and scuffs. In this case, you’ll want to ramp things up by working with some nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.
Just one cotton swab or square is all you need to absorb the abrasive liquid, and some light blotting on the target area will get the job done quickly. Don’t rub the stain or use too much elbow grease. That will only make things worse.
When the stain is gone, and you’re satisfied with the results, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe it down and then dry it off with a separate towel.
Clean Marks From Oil And Grease
If you work a job where oil and grease get everywhere, your wallet may take the brunt of these tough stains. There is a solution, but it takes a bit more time, so be patient.
The key is a combination of baking soda and cornstarch, which you will sprinkle on the spot and rub in with a damp cloth. Things won’t clear up immediately. You’ll need to let the wallet sit and dry overnight as the powder absorbs the oil.
However, the next day you’ll see major improvements to the affected area, and you’ll know what to do the next time your wallet catches some oil or grease.
For Lighter Leather, Use Lemon Juice
Not all leather is created equal, and for lighter varieties, you need a different approach.
Mix equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar into a paste and apply the stuff to the target area with some gentle pressure. Let it sit out in the open for 30 minutes, then return to remove the paste with a damp cloth.
This process will act as a mild homemade bleach that clears up most stains on light leather, but avoid using it on darker brown and black leather wallets.
Know The Deal For Metal And Nylon
While most leather wallets are made of a single material, some include components like aluminum or nylon that require different cleaning methods. Be sure to treat them the right way to get the most longevity from your wallet and avoid further damage.
Before you start scrubbing away on metal, figure out exactly what compounds it is made from, then purchase a metal-specific polish from the store. You don’t want to mix and match metals and cleaners because the results can be disastrous.
All you need is a small squirt of polish on a cloth, and do a thorough once-over across every square millimeter of the metal. Once clean and dry, give it a buff with some automotive wax to make it shine like a prized Corvette.
If your wallet has a nylon strap or some form of polyester, you’ll need a warm mix of water and laundry detergent to clean it properly. Just a few drops of detergent will do the trick, and use gentle dabs with a cloth to clean the synthetic fibers.
Let it dry naturally and keep the nylon away from sunlight to achieve a good-as-new look.
Pick A Winning Wallet That Lasts
You can follow these tips and do all the right things to clean and maintain your wallet, but at the end of the day, the quality of your wallet will outshine any of the tricks and tips you use.
You can only do so much to improve a below-average leather wallet, so why not invest in something high grade and make the most of your time and money?
Before you buy your next wallet, do some digging on the type of material used by the manufacturer, and find out exactly how they source and process leather.
You want your leather wallet to be sustainably sourced and handcrafted with hides processed at Gold Rated tanneries, rather than run-of-the-mill production facilities that hide their techniques.
The craftsmanship of a wallet will also dictate how well it holds up over time, and it’s worth researching the methods used by today’s manufacturers. You will quickly discover how much production matters in the wallet industry and why certain products cost more than others.
The Modular Bifold from Ekster, for instance, is made with some of the finest environmentally certified leather on the planet, so you can feel good about your purchase and ensure it lasts for many years to come. It also features a removable magnetic cardholder for greater customization in your everyday carry.
Make a smart pick from an ethical and aesthetic standpoint, and your wallet will retain its quality for far longer with proper care.