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How to clean a white vinyl bag

Updated April 17, 2017

Cleaning a white vinyl bag can be tricky unless you have the right cleaning products. Vinyl is made up of lasticizers, and a variety of chemicals can destroy the plasticisers, making the vinyl brittle and permanently damaged. To avoid this, you need to know what you're doing and what types of cleaners are appropriate to use when cleaning vinyl.

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Wipe the bag's surface with a damp paper towel. Depending on what the bag is soiled with, it may come off with water and a little bit of rubbing. If this doesn't work, try mixing some gentle detergent with the water and wiping the bag with the mixture. Be sure not to use too much detergent as this may make the bag sticky.

Determine what stained the vinyl bag. If the stain is something water soluble but is ground into the vinyl, you may use a toothbrush or other soft-bristled brush to gently scrub at the stain with the water-detergent mixture until it is clean. If the mark on the bag is caused by a ballpoint pen, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide will help take the stain out without ruining the vinyl bag. For stains caused by shoe polish, markers, crayon, grease, tar or oil paint, you may need to blot the stain out using mineral spirits or turpentine.

Treat the affected area with hydrogen peroxide if necessary to remove the remainder of the stain and to get rid of the rest of the mineral spirits that may be on the vinyl bag. The hydrogen peroxide also has bleaching properties, so it will help the white bag maintain its colour.

Clean off chewing gum from a white vinyl bag by holding ice to the gum to harden it, then chipping the gum off the bag with a chisel. Make sure you don't chisel too close to the bag, or you may damage the surface. Use mineral spirits to remove the rest of the gum.

Use a specific vinyl softener and cleaner to clean and care for the vinyl bag. This is a more expensive option, but these types of cleaners are specifically made for vinyl and help keep the material pliable and clean regardless of what caused the damage.


Consider purchasing vinyl cleaner rather than using any other home remedy as it is specifically formulated to clean the vinyl and keep it supple. While the cleaner is a bit expensive, you won't risk ruining your handbag when you clean it. Always use mineral spirits or turpentine in a well-ventilated room.


Be careful when choosing a cleaning product to remove stains from a vinyl handbag. Some cleaners may be too harsh and cause more damage than good to the vinyl.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild detergent
  • Water
  • Toothbrush or small scrub brush
  • Vinyl cleaner
  • Alcohol
  • Mineral spirits
  • Hydrogen peroxide

About the Author

Based in Dayton, Ohio, Sari Hardyal has been writing fitness, sports, entertainment and health-related articles for more than five years. Hardyal holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communication from Miami University and is pursuing her master's degree in occupational therapy and her doctorate in physical therapy. She is a certified personal trainer with the National Federation of Professional Trainers.

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