How to Keep Your Purse Smelling Fresh

Young woman paying bus fare to driver, smiling

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A cute purse is a crucial accessory, whether you're going out for a day of shopping or a night on the town. If your purse smells bad, however, it won't matter that it's cute. If you get a whiff of a foul or musty odor when you open your purse, chances are others can smell it too. It's important to give your handbag a cleaning every once in a while to keep it smelling and looking fresh.

Clean your purse every week or two. Toss a canvas purse into the washing machine on the gentle cycle with mild laundry detergent. Wipe leather or vinyl purses with a microfiber towel and a drop of liquid baby bath diluted in 1 cup of water. Always wipe in the grain of the leather, and never get the bag itself wet -- spritz the cleanser lightly onto the microfiber towel instead. If you are unsure what your purse is made of or if it is washable, take it to the dry cleaner.

Empty your purse regularly and give it a good shake outdoors or over the trash can, especially if you carry food in it.

Roll a lint brush along the inside or vacuum it with an upholstery attachment after shaking it out. If there are stains or spills on the lining, spray them with baby bath diluted in a spray bottle of water and wipe them with a damp cloth or paper towel. If you are unsure of the fabric content of your purse's lining, take it to the dry cleaner to prevent permanent staining.

Spray perfume or fabric refresher on an old handkerchief or rag and tuck it into the bottom of your purse, or use a fabric softener sheet.

Air out your purse. If possible, turn it inside out and hang it on a clothesline in the sun. Because bright sunlight can fade fabric, don't leave it outside for too long -- an hour or two is enough. If the sun is especially bright and you want to air your purse out longer, hang it in a shady spot.

Store your purse where it can breathe. When putting purses away for the season, clean them first, then store each one open, in an open pillowcase. This prevents the outside of the bag from collecting dust while keeping the inside from becoming musty.