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How to Clean Cork Fabric

Can You Really Clean Cork Fabric with Soap and Water?

My Personal Story, May 2014

Diane Thompson, President & Owner, Cortizza

One of the questions that we hear most often is “How can I clean cork fabric?”. Our answer is that is cleans well with soap and water. But, I think, sometimes people are hesitant to actually get the item wet.

Well, I recently had the “opportunity” to test this with a more extreme situation than most will encounter and decided to document it with some photos.

Here's What Happened

A couple of weeks ago, I grabbed my Barcelona tote with all my “stuff” as I was leaving for the gym. I also had a travel mug of black coffee that I thought was sealed and I carelessly added it to my tote as I ran out the door. (Yes, I was late leaving for the gym, as usual!) I got in the car and reached for the coffee and immediately thought, uhh, this feels empty…  And, guess what? It was empty and the coffee was now soaking the inside of my tote and everything in it. Ugh! Not having time to really deal with the situation (Eek! I was already late!), I quickly put the tote in the garage and left for the gym, chastising myself for being an idiot and disappointed that I had ruined a bag that I loved.

Or, had I ruined it? It took me a couple of weeks to decide that maybe I should just try to wash the entire bag, including (especially!) the lining. After all, I had nothing to lose; I already thought I had ruined the bag.

So, I emptied all the coffee soaked contents of the bag, pulled the lining out of the bag and started soaking it in the laundry room sink, rinsing and squeezing the coffee from the lining until the water ran clear.  Then I added some soap to a wet sponge to clean the grime that had accumulated on the outside after over a year of daily use (and abuse!).


Then, I hung the bag from a simple pants hanger and hung it in the shower to let most of the water drip off, then moved it to a towel rack to dry completely.


At this point, I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but things seemed promising. But, hmmm, while I’m at it, maybe I’ll wash the outside of my Lisbon purse that I’ve been using for a couple of years. Here it is in my bathroom sink, wet and soapy. You can see I didn’t baby it!

I towel dried the outside and hung it to dry completely.

And, here are my results!  Both bags are good as new! I knew my Lisbon bag would be fine, but the surprise was how great my Barcelona tote turned out! Even my coffee mishap didn’t do permanent damage. 

So, go ahead, don’t be afraid! :-) Soap and water are good friends to your beautiful cork bag.