How to Care For Your Leather Tote Bag

How to Care For Your Leather Tote Bag | Popov Leather

A tote bag is an incredibly useful accessory, and leather tote bag care ensures its longevity and aesthetics

This bag is not only simple but also highly versatile. It can hold your laptop, books, water bottle, headphones, and even serve as a shopping carrier, all in one stylish package. 

Tote Heritage brown
Tote Heritage brown​​

So, when you’re shopping around for such a bag, just how much and how well it can carry is at the front of your mind.

Picture a handsome leather tote made from USA Horween Derby full-grain leather. It has plenty of room, including inside and outside pockets and a brass keykeeper clip.

Moreover, its handles are reinforced with industrial sewing and have the perfect 12.5-inch drop that’s comfortable to carry over your shoulder. 

This dreamy bag is from the Popov Leather tote bag collection. Manufactured in English tan, heritage brown, black, and natural colors, these bags are perfect for daily use.

“I love this tote bag! Purchased it in Heritage Brown. Fits everything I need. Plus there's a place for keys! Rugged. Durable. Functional. Beautiful.”

Valentina F. ★★★★★ Verified Reviewer

At Popov Leather, we’re big on totes. We make them roomy and sew them up strong for a lifetime of use. We want your leather tote bag to be as handy in five years as it is now. So, we’ve written this leather tote bag care guide to help you. 


Caring for a leather bag is quite similar to caring for your own skin. Think about it—leather is a natural fiber that can stretch, dry, and soak up moisture just like other organic materials.

Therefore, maintaining the quality of your bag starts with day-to-day care. By following a few simple rules, you can avoid unnecessary wear and tear. You can also extend the life of your bag by a few years. 

A good rule of thumb when it comes to everyday care is to treat your bag as you would an organic product.

Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Don’t overfill your tote: Sure, it’s meant to carry plenty. However, your leather bag is made of skin that can stretch and lose shape over time. So fill it to capacity, but no more. The Popov Leather tote is quite spacious with dimensions of 12.5" height x 15" length x 9" width (when open). This can fit your workout clothes, wallet, water bottle, lunch, and headphones; just don’t overdo it.
  • Don’t let it get wet: Wet leather requires extra care and while there’s some justification for exposing your bag to the elements (we’ll tell you why later on), you shouldn’t let it get soaked. So if rain is in the forecast, be sure to carry an umbrella. 
  • Compartmentalize cosmetics: It’s smart to keep lipstick, lotion, and other cosmetics in a small bag before putting them in your tote. In case the lipstick lid falls off or the lotion leaks, your bag’s interior will be protected.


All four of our leather tote bag colors
​All four of our leather tote bag colors​

If you’re a lover of leather, you probably have more than one tote. Plus, with so many colors to choose from, there’s no reason you shouldn’t treat yourself to the handsome English tan tote, as well as the more versatile black tote.

Having options is great, but it also means that you’ll need to store the bag you’re not using. Now, storing leather appropriately is one of the easiest ways to extend its lifetime.

There are three leather storage considerations you must make:


  • Dust 
  • Sunlight
  • Shape


Dust can contain chemicals that erode leather.

Think about the chemicals used in your household; baking powder, blush, detergent, you name it. While using these products, some particles escape and float around in the air before settling on surfaces.

If they settle on your leather tote and stay there a while, they could damage the surface.

A good dust cover is an easy and attractive solution to this potential problem. It puts a barrier between your beloved bag and the dust particles in your house.

However, you shouldn’t store your leather bag in a plastic bag. Plastic bags don’t allow proper ventilation. Leather requires ventilation to prevent mildew or rot from setting in.

A good dust cover is made of breathable fabric. If your bag didn’t come with one, consider buying one.

Expert Tip: If your bag didn’t come with a dust cover, use a good quality cotton pillowcase for the same purpose.


Too much exposure to direct sunlight will change the color of the leather. While this isn’t always a bad thing, some people prefer their bags to look brand new.

Once you’ve sealed your tote in a dust cover, store it in a closet or any surface that’s away from direct sunlight.

It’s worth mentioning that the sun’s heat can be an issue too, and the sun isn’t the only heat source you need to be cautious of. Artificial sources of heat such as radiators and heating vents can dry leather and cause it to crack.

Ensure that your storage area is far from such heat sources.


If you’ve already carried too much in your tote and have caused it to lose shape, you can remedy this while it’s in storage. This tip can also be used for maintaining a bag in good shape.

Black full-grain Horween leather
Black full-grain Horween leather​​

To keep the original shape, fill your bag with bubble wrap or plain white tissue paper before storing it. Don’t use newspaper or any printed paper—the ink might rub off on the inside and stain your bag.

Although it’s tempting to leave your bag packed with your daily essentials for next-day use, doing so repeatedly can affect your bag’s shape. Make a habit of emptying your bags and filling them up with plain white paper to maintain their silhouettes.


Leather tote bag in Natural Horween
Leather tote bag in Natural Horween​​

Apart from day-to-day care, occasionally treating your leather bag can help to maintain its original quality. Treating involves three processes:


  1. Cleaning
  2. Conditioning
  3. Sealing


Use a good quality leather cleaner to remove dirt, dust, and absorbed oils on your leather bag. The best cleaners have a neutral pH without alcohol and abrasives. They also contain surfactants that attract dirt out of the cracks of leather.

The Popov Leather Scrub is a cleaning spray made from natural ingredients. Its balanced pH helps you add years of life to your leather bag each time you clean it.

To clean your tote:

  1. Use a soft brush or cloth.
  2. Use a mixture of cleaner and warm water.
  3. Don’t immerse the bag in water. Instead, clean one area at a time without getting it too wet. 
  4. Spot test before applying the cleaner to the larger surface.  
  5. Allow the bag to air-dry. 
  6. Don’t use direct heat from a radiator or hairdryer to dry the bag.


Just like your skin, leather needs moisture. After cleaning your bag, you need to make it soft and supple with a leather conditioner.

It’s advisable to condition only once per month. However, if you live in a dry area, your bag may need more frequent conditioning.

The Popov Leather Balm is a semi-thick wax conditioner that contains only natural ingredients. It offers superior waterproofing and long-lasting protection for leather goods.

To condition your tote:

  1. Use a soft cloth.  
  2. Apply a dollop of conditioner, rubbing gently into the leather.
  3. Use a soft dry cloth to wipe off any excess.
  4. Set it in a cool dry area to allow the leather to absorb the oil.
Popov Leather Balm & Scrub for conditioning and cleaning leather tote bags
Popov Leather Balm & Scrub for conditioning and cleaning leather tote bags​​


Sealing is the final step in the leather treatment process. It involves applying a protectant to the outer surface to seal in moisture and natural oils.

The Popov Leather Balm acts as a natural sealant in addition to being a conditioner. It’s great for protecting your leather items from the elements—the sun in particular.


Patina is the natural aging effect on leather goods. It results from everyday use, exposure to elements, and scratches and nicks. Patina is a cherished effect that hints at the owner's adventures over the years.

As time passes, full-grain vegetable-tanned leather will develop visible signs of aging. Even with excellent care, your tote bag will still age, and for leather lovers, this is something to be proud of.

Proper leather care will keep your leather tote looking great for years, but patina is not something that can or should be avoided. Rather, it makes your tote even more desirable and unique. It ensures that no two bags ever look the same.


Each product in our tote bag collection is functional and stylish. They all have plenty of room so you never have to worry about loading too much into it.

We use durable leather that develops a rich patina over time and looks even better with more use. Clear stitch lines and just enough bells and whistles to give it a minimalist look that’s perfect for everyday carry.

The perfect tote bag in English Tan color
The perfect tote bag in English Tan color​​

Here is what one of our customers has to say about the Heritage Brown Tote Bag:

“Bought this tote for a Christmas present for my wife. It is superb quality and I wouldn't hesitate to buy from Popov again. I bought a wallet a few years ago and I enjoy it still to this day. It hasn't shown any aging and wear and tear. both items look great.”

Ben R. ★★★★★ Verified Reviewer

We take a lot of pride in our work. So, each tote is backed with a lifetime guarantee. Purchase with the assurance that you’ll get years of use from your tote.

For lovers of all things leather, we also have a delightful range of wallets, belts, notebook covers, and much more.

Written by Ryan Popoff

Ryan Popoff is the creative mind behind Popov Leather wallets, iPhone cases, belts, watch bands and journals since 2013. With a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, my leatherworking journey began at home. I wanted to create a simple leather wallet that could fit into my front pocket and — to my delight — it was a hit with family and friends. Hopefully you love our honest, quality leather goods too! Reach out with questions.

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