7 Ideas for Cleaning Your Wallet

Updated: Oct. 23, 2023

Ever think of cleaning your wallet? Here's why you should, and how to do it.

If you’re like most people, cleaning your wallet rarely crosses your mind. That can leave it full of dirt, oils, bacteria, viruses and other grime.

Clean Your Wallet at Least Once a Week

A virus can live on paper money for an hour. However, if it mixes with mucus, the virus can live for 17 days. Icky stats like that mean you should clean your wallet at least once a week, and avoid touching money if you’re worried about getting sick. If you do handle cash or coins, wash your hands or slather on hand sanitizer ASAP.

Use a Soft Cloth and Leather Cream to Clean a Leather Wallet

You can easily clean your leather wallet with a soft cloth and a high-quality leather cream like Skidmore’s Original Leather Cream. First, take everything out. Then apply a small amount of cream to the cloth before rubbing it in a circular motion over every part of the wallet.

Use a Soft Cloth and Metal Polish to Clean a Metal Wallet

Metal wallets are usually made from aluminum or titanium. To clean them, also remove everything before breaking out a metal-specific cleaner. (Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish cleans any type of metal.) Apply a small amount on a soft cloth, and then rub it over the wallet’s surface. To help prevent oxidation, apply a protective layer of automotive wax.

Use a Soft Cloth and Mild Laundry Detergent to Clean a Nylon Wallet

Durable nylon is a cinch to clean with water and laundry detergent. Mix a solution of warm water and a few drops of mild laundry detergent. Empty the wallet, dip a soft cloth into the solution and thoroughly wipe every surface. Let the wallet air dry while avoiding direct sunlight, which can alter the color of the nylon.

Treat Any Stains ASAP

To remove a water stain on a leather wallet, dab at the stain with a lint-free cloth, then let the wallet dry. Ink stains on leather can be removed by dipping a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and rubbing it over the stain. (Patch test somewhere inconspicuous first.) Oil can be removed by first dabbing the stain with a microfiber cloth, then letting corn starch sit on the stain overnight.

Tarnish on aluminum wallets can be cleaned with one part vinegar to one part water (always test first!). Stains on titanium can be cleaned with warm water, a bit of dish detergent and a soft brush. Nylon wallet stains can often be removed by dropping a dime-sized amount of dish detergent on the spot before dabbing it with a wet cloth.

Disinfect Your Credit and Debit Cards

It’s definitely worth disinfecting your plastic cards frequently, either by cleaning them for 20 seconds with good old soapy water, or using an EPA-approved disinfectant for killing viruses. Just make sure your signature is still visible. If not, sign the card again after it dries.

Consider Disinfecting With Ultraviolet (UV) Light

UV light has been shown to kill bacteria and viruses thanks to its high frequency, which damages the DNA and RNA of pathogens. There are many UV sterilizing devices on the market, but most can’t be used on all surfaces. One that works on leather, nylon and metal is the VeriClean Portable UV-C Wand.