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March 25, 2021 4 min read

Especially in this day and age, hygiene is becoming increasingly important in everyday life. Whether masks, disinfectants, gloves...all these things are supposed to protect us from viruses and bacteria. 

But what about the every-day-carry things, like keys, smartphone and wallet, which we always have with us and which can't simply be cleaned with disinfectant?

Let's just think about paying at the supermarket. After we've put everything on the conveyor belt, we briefly check our smartphone for new messages, pull our wallet out of our jacket or trouser pocket, pay and put both things away again. After we have loaded everything and locked and unlocked the car with our key, we disinfect our hands and of course wash them again at home. And the smartphone, wallet and keys stay in the pocket for now? Probably not, but all the bacteria and viruses that we actually wanted to get rid of stick to them.

Laboratory tests in America have shown that SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on stainless steel and plastic. According to theInstitute for Risk Assessment, there is no evidence that people have been infected via surfaces, but it would probably be difficult to find evidence of this. It should be noted, however, that there are many cases of infection where it is unclear how people became infected. Theoretically, infection via surfaces would therefore be quite possible.

In addition to the coronavirus, there are also many other viruses and bacteria that can make life difficult for us. In any case, there is still a queasy feeling at the thought of all the things that can be found on wallets and smartphones. So it makes sense to clean our wallets regularly.

Just what is the best way to clean leather, aluminum and plastic wallets?


Cleaning leather wallets

To start with, the disinfection of leather is very problematic.

Cleaning with alcohol is unsuitable for most leather products because it changes and attacks the color of the leather. There are leather cleaning products with which you can also disinfect leather, but these are always a burden for the material and therefore not suitable for every day.

Smooth leather can be cleaned well with leather cleaning products, a chamois leather or a soft brush. Depending on the sensitivity of the leather, dishwashing detergent and water are also suitable.

Open-pored leather such as suede are much more difficult to clean. As a precaution, always impregnate regularly to protect the leather. Water is not suitable for these types of leather and it is recommended to soak up wet stains as quickly as possible with a cloth. No pressure should be applied. With suitable brushes, the leather can be brushed out well with SOFT pressure. Unfortunately, viruses and bacteria are not removed in the process.

Another possibility of disinfection, which is also suitable for sensitive materials such as leather, are UV-C lamps. The radiation of these lamps kills all bacteria, viruses and fungi and protects the tissue. However, TÜV-Süd strongly advises against using such lamps in private use, as the radiation is comparable to X-rays and can cause serious damage to the skin and eyes, which may only become apparent after some time. Manufacturers such asPhilipsoffer UV-C disinfection boxes, which make it safer to disinfect small items such as purses, keys and the like.


So it remains difficult to disinfect leather without harming it. In any case, the manufacturer's cleaning instructions should be followed so that you can still enjoy your purse for a long time. It is also advisable to keep leather items such as purses and bags in a specific place in the home where there is little contact with us and food, and to place or put leather things on surfaces such as the kitchen as little as possible.


Disinfection of plastic and metal wallets.

Many wallets today are slim wallets, i.e. small narrow wallets that contain the essentials and can be easily stowed in the front pocket of the pants. These wallets are often made of metal or plastic combined with other materials such as textile or acrylic glass.

In addition to the aforementioned UV-C light, viruses and bacteria on objects made of plastic and metal can be easily removed with the conventional disinfectants that can be purchased at the drugstore. It is important to make sure that the agent used is also suitable for objects and that the wallet is completely wetted with the liquid and that the exposure time is observed. In the case of sprays, care should be taken that the aerosol is not inhaled if possible, and caution should also be exercised in the frequent use of disinfectants on the skin. According to the RKI, wipe disinfection is generally to be preferred. It is recommended to wear gloves during disinfection to protect the skin from unnecessary harmful influences and to use a mild disinfectant that is also suitable for disinfecting toys. A handkerchief soaked in disinfectant is sufficient to wipe the purse with it and disinfect it.

If the wallet is made of mixed materials, the manufacturer's instructions must be followed in any case so as not to damage the wallet. Textiles, such as elastic straps, must be checked for color fastness and the agent tested on an inconspicuous part of the wallet. To be on the safe side, the textile material can be protected during disinfection by covering or wrapping it with cling film, for example, and then cleaning it with water and washing-up liquid only.

There are ways to clean one's every-day-carry items, and those who value hygiene should also do so regularly with their smartphone, wallet and keys.

Good for your health and good for your feelings.


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