How to take care of your faux/PU leather handbag

Have you recently purchased a gorgeous vegan leather handbag? First off, congratulations! You’ve made an ethical buying choice, without sacrificing your amazing style.

Faux leather, which is usually made with polyurethane (PU leather) is a great vegan clothing option, because it’s a man-made product that doesn’t require the senseless slaughter of animals. It gives you the same look as traditional leather, while being often cheaper than real leather and totally cruelty-free. 

If you’ve never owned a PU leather handbag before, it’s important to know how to take care of your bag, so you can keep it looking and feeling like new for years to come.

Because PU leather is made to mimic animal-based leathers, the care instructions are similar on many points, but a lot simpler. To keep your bag in the best condition possible, you’ll want to follow the instructions below on how to care for your vegan leather bags.


On the Inside

Women carry just about everything in their handbags, from money and receipts, to makeup, to snacks that keep powerful ladies full on the go. But that also means that your beautiful handbag is at risk from the items you take with you. The first step in cleaning a faux leather handbag is doing everything you can to prevent stains. Here are a few tips to help protect your bag, no matter what you’re bringing along for the ride:

  • Buy a makeup pouch

    Makeup products usually come with tops and caps, but these can come undone when your bag is being jostled during the morning commute, leaving you with a ruined lipstick and a big stain on the inside of your handbag. A makeup pouch keeps your products in a smaller space, lessening the likelihood of a spill or stain.

  • Carry pens with caps

    Clicker pens can be accidentally “clicked” open inside your bag, which means you could end up with some abstract ink stains on your beloved handbag. Capped pens are less likely to open, keeping your vegan bag safer.

  • Clean out your bag regularly

    Have you ever dropped something in your bag, and then completely forgotten about it? This can lead to a messy bag, and in the case of forgotten food items, can create stains and odours that are difficult to get rid of. If you tend to carry one bag for weeks on end, make sure you’re emptying it out and sorting the contents on a weekly basis.


The surface

Sometimes a stain is unavoidable. Maybe you spilled a bit of your drink, or maybe you accidentally dropped your bag, and now there is a stain on the PU leather.

Don’t freak out! PU leather (vegan leather in general) is actually very simple to clean, as long as you do it the right way.

Just follow these steps, and your bag will look as good as new.

  1. Mix water with a small amount of mild dish soap or laundry detergent (harsh detergents will cause drying).
  2. Dip a non-abrasive (we recommend microfibre) cloth into the mixture.
  3. Test the mixture on a small portion of the handbag. Try to do this on the interior or the strap if possible. Make sure there’s no discolouration before applying the mixture to the actual stain.
  4. Gently wash the stain by hand using the microfibre cloth. If the stain isn’t coming out, or is deep-set, try using a mixture of water with a small amount of vinegar instead. In addition to being safe for use on synthetic leather, vinegar is helps you get rid of odours from stains naturally.
  5. Let your handbag air dry completely. If you put the bag away before it is dry, you could end up with mould and bacteria growth in the surface.

Note: Do not use dryer to dry your handbag. Using a dryer on faux leather can lead to cracked, unsalvageable items


Give your handbag a mild clean from time to time. This will ensure you stay on top of general marks and grease that build up with regular use.

Again, the rule here is to keep it simple: Use a non-abrasive cloth (microfibre is great) and a warm water + mild washing liquid mixture to give your bag a good surface wipe.

Follow up by drying it off with a soft, clean cloth.


Real leather products are made from animal hides, and when they are exposed to too much sunlight, these can crack, ruining the look of your handbag. Since PU leather mimics animal-based leathers, it is also prone to cracking without proper care.

Cracking of faux leather is primarily due to the effect of UVB rays on the molecular structure of the material, resulting in PU (or vinyl) compounds becoming brittle enough to crack. To keep your PU leather handbag free of cracks, you’ll need to minimise exposure to sunlight.

Leaving your handbag inside your car in the sun, for example, is a huge no-no. 

Additionally, many leather producers offer ‘leather conditioner’ products. These conditioners are generally safe for PU leather as well, and although we don’t consider it necessary, you can give these conditioners (or baby oil) a go if you want to add a protective layer to your handbag. But be careful: don’t overdo it – a little product goes a long way. You don’t want to end up with a shiny / greasy bag.


In addition to keeping your PU leather handbags clean and protected from the sun, proper storage is essential to making your purse last as long as possible.

Here are our Dos and Don’ts for properly storing faux leather purses and bags:

  • DO Store handbags either upright or laying flat.
  • DON’T hang your purses to store them!
  • DO protect your purse from dust and grime using a dust bag, or a pillowcase! If you buy from us, you would get a free dustbag with your product.
  • DON’T store PU leather products in plastic bags. Not only can plastic bags trap moisture, leading to mould or mildew on your handbag, but plastic can become stuck to the faux leather and ruin it.
  • DO fill your faux leather bags with tissue paper, pillows or other fabrics to help them maintain their shape.
  • DON’T stack purses on top of each other. This can lead to crushing, or scratches from purse hardware like zipper pulls.


Vegan leather bags can last a long time if you look after them properly.

Common sense still applies when it comes to your handbag, so to give your beautiful faux leather bag longevity, we recommend giving it a little break every now and then – rotate your handbags instead of using the same one every day.

Be mindful of the weight you carry – as putting a handbag under constant weigh pressure can lead to damage. For example, avoid overloading your bag with heavier items (such as a laptop) on a daily basis.


“You get what you pay for” – The old maxim applies to vegan bags too. 

A higher price tag means that your faux leather bag was made by better artisans, using better materials, resulting in better and stronger finishes and higher durability. High end handbags are also subject to strict quality control tests, which is not always the case with the cheaper brands.

Remember, fast (and cheap) fashion is designed to be essentially disposable. So pay attention to the brands you purchase from: how often are they releasing – and discarding – designs? What are their prices? How often are they running clearance and sale events? 

If you buy from El Schatteler Store, you would get the best quality handbag. Otherwise, be extra careful with cheap handbags.


By now, you’ve learned everything you need to know about keeping your faux leather purse in perfect condition. We discussed:

  • How to keep your purse organised
  • How to clean and wash your faux leather handbag
  • How to prevent PU leather from cracking
  • And, how to store your handbags for use season after season.

Again, thank you for making the right choice to buy cruelty-free fashion items!

Looking for more perfect faux leather pieces for your collection? Check out all the stunning purses and handbags at our website. Check our blog for more care ideas.