How to disinfect leather wallet and other pocket items?

2020 started on a low note with a rumor of a new disease in the Wuhan city of the Republic of China. Initially, it was thought to be a type of common flu, but by mid-January, a large number of people started developing symptoms that were never previously seen with the common cold/flu patients.

The disease later came to be known as a new type of Coronavirus strain officially named as COVID-19.

From China, it quickly spread to other countries around the world, thanks to extreme interconnectivity and travel. As we are writing this post, the virus has infected more than 200,000 people worldwide, with 8000+ deaths.
Most countries have closed down their borders and adopted strict isolation/quarantine policies to fight the spread.

This guide aims to provide you a way to fight the spread on your own terms, by "Coronavirus Proofing" your Pocket items such as Phone, Wallet and Keys.

How Coronavirus Spreads?

According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention – CDC, Corona Virus spread via Human to Human direct contact, through droplets and through direct contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus [source]. Below is an infographic showing how the virus is transmitted from human to human.

How corona virus spread

According to a preliminary study by the National Institute of Health – NIH, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) can live on surfaces such as plastics and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on cardboard items for up to 24 hours.

Virus-infected droplets can contaminate surfaces that we frequently come in physical contact with that include

  • Doorknobs
  • ATMs
  • Elevator Buttons
  • Railings
  • Car doors etc.

As these surfaces can harbor the live virus for several hours, the infection can thus spread to other humans when they touch the same contaminated surfaces. See the below diagram.

how long corona virus last on surface

While it is highly recommended to wash our hands frequently with soap, we still run the risk of getting the virus if we touch the surfaces that harbor the virus. Consider a very common scenario below.

Joe loves to use his phone to remain in contact with his friends and family and to browse social media. Although he is in partial isolation due to the virus in his city, he occasionally leaves his house for groceries and daily supplies.
On one such trip to the nearest supermarket, he touched the staircase railing inside the supermarket. The railing was infected with the virus, due to which his palms got the virus too.

On the way home, he took out his phone, and some of the virus transferred to his phone surface as well. Immediately after getting home, Joe made sure to wash his hands with soap for 30 seconds.
But what he didn't realize is that the virus he contacted inside the supermarket is still residing on the surface of his phone.
Even after washing his hands, Joe can easily get infected when he uses his phone and touches his face with those re-infected hands.


Like Joe, in the above scenario, we all are at risk of getting infected if we don't take care of the items we carry in our pocket. So, let's get to the topic and see how we can safely clean and sanitize the things that we carry in our pocket that act as potential carriers of the deadly Coronavirus.

What Do We Carry in our Pockets?

There are 3 main things that almost every one of us carries in our pocket

a smartphone, a wallet, and car/home keys.

With a deadly virus on the leash, these daily carry items become a perfect carrier of the virus too.

That's is why it is essential to clean and sanitize these items also. It takes one live virus to penetrate and reach your respiratory tract to multiply and cause infection so we can never be too careful.

Let's discuss our daily pocket items one by one and see how we can virus-proof them daily.

How to disinfect leather wallet?

Wallets come in different shapes and materials, and each requires a different approach to disinfect and clean them. Leather wallets are the most difficult to disinfect. 

Let's look at different wallets made from various materials and see how can we disinfect them.

Carbon Fibre/Stainless Steel Wallets:

For wallets made of carbon fiber or stainless steel, you can just take out all the cards and cash and wash them with soap/detergent for 30 seconds, and they are good to go.

Both carbon fiber and stainless steel are corrosion-resistant material, so you don't have to worry about the material getting damaged from the water. Some manufacturers might use screws made of alloy iron that might get damaged with water, so make sure you dry your wallet immediately after washing.

You can use a hairdryer or just remove the surface water with clean tissue paper (not with a towel – the towel is usually the dirtiest piece of cloth in your bathroom if it is not replaced daily).

How to clean & disinfect Leather Wallet?

Bifold Wallet

Unlike Carbon Fiber or Stainless steel wallets, leather wallets are a bit tricky to clean. You cannot directly rinse them with soap water as it can potentially damage your precious leather.

We carried out some tests on leather in our workshop and came up with a few safer ways of cleaning your leather wallet (or any other leather items).

Use Rubbing Alcohol:

According to the Center for Disease Control – CDC website[source], 70% alcohol is an effective disinfectant against most germs and viruses, including the COVID-19 Coronavirus. We can make a 70% solution in distilled water and use it to clean our leather wallet. The procedure to clean it is as follows:

  1. Dip a clean piece of cotton or wool in the solution and rinse excessive liquid off.
  2. Gently clean the surface of the wallet both from inside and from the outside. Do not spare any corner and hard to reach area.
  3. Once the entire wallet surface is sufficiently clean, take another dry piece of cotton/wool and rub the surface to absorb any excessive amount of leftover liquid.
  4. Air-dry the wallet in an open and well-ventilated place ( never sun-dry a leather item)

Use Vinegar and Linseed Oil Mixture

  1. Mix one-part white vinegar with linseed oil.
  2. Apply it softly on the leather wallet with a soft cloth
  3. Rub thoroughly with a circular motion
  4. Let it sit for 10 mins
  5. Buff with another dry fabric to bring the shine out.

Use Dish Soap and Water

  1. Mix some dish soap with a bowl of warm water
  2. Dampen a cloth in it and rinse off the extra liquid
  3. Wipe the wallet thoroughly with it without sparing any corners or tight areas.
  4. Dry with a clean cloth or cotton.
  5. Air-dry for 30 minutes

How about Cleaning your Credit Cards?

Disinfect your credit cards from corona

So we got our wallet cleaned, but what about the things we keep in our wallet? It makes sense to clean all surfaces that we come in contact with that can possibly carry the virus, but it's not always possible. For instance, you cannot possibly disinfect your currency notes with any liquid disinfectant.

So what is the solution?


For now, Only use your cards for payment purposes and avoid receiving/handling purchase receipts as well.

LendEDU recently conducted an experiment testing 40 debit cards and 27 paper bills through a germ testing device, assigning a germ scale to both of them. Concluding that debit cards in your wallets have more germ infections than a subway poll in the United States.

Now that we have only cards in our wallet, we can easily clean them with any of the above methods. Cards are made of plastics, so they are not prone to any damage with some soap mixed water or even alcohol solution.

Protip: Try using a simple eraser on the magnetic strip of the credit cards. It will remove any debris that is left on them


Since studies have shown that the COVID-19 can survive for a few hours on a lot of surfaces, your phone may become the primary source of the infection due to its frequent usage.

It’s important to avoid using disinfectants like alcohol wipes to clean your phone as it may damage the screen. Bleach based products are also best left avoided

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes have been recommended by Apple to help with cleaning your phone. This is due to the solution containing 70% Isopropyl Alcohol, which isn't considered harmful to the device itself.

disinfect your smartphone from coronavirus

You can also simply use mixed soap water and cotton wipes to clean your phone. Most phones have IPv6 waterproof rating, so it is a pretty safe process.

Protip: Never clean your smartphone with Alcohol. It will cause the screen to malfunction

Samsung has also announced Galaxy Sanitizing Service to clean user's phones with UV light. It is currently available in 19 countries, including the United States, for free.


Keys are also a potential carrier of Coronavirus and should be clean, just like your wallet and phone. Since most keys are made of metal with some plastic parts, it is quite safe to simply wash them with soap mixed water or an alcohol solution to get rid of the germs.

Disinfect your keys from coronavirus

If you find this mini-guide helpful, share the link with your friends, family and loved ones so that they can also take care of themselves during the pandemic. These are challenging times for all of us and we can only get through this if we come together as a global community. Stay safe.

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