Alligator skin shoes and purses are distinctive in their unusual gradations in color and texture, and special care is required to maintain their exotic look. Tanners treat alligator leather with special oils during the manufacturing process, but neglect or the wrong cleaning products can lead to discoloration and cracking. Store and clean purses and shoes regularly and properly for long-lasting appeal.
To clean alligator accessories, always use cleansers made specifically for exotic leathers and reptile skin. Look for petroleum-free leather products for the best results, and apply a conditioning cream before you put them away. Even if you store purses and shoes for the longterm, treat them with the cream every few months to keep the skin from drying out. Store alligator products in a covered bag or box, and keep them away from heat and direct sunlight.
Clean an alligator purse by wiping it with a cloth dampened in warm water. Avoid household cleaners because they can damage exotic skins by stripping the color and finish. After a wipe-down, treat the purse with conditioning cream. Shoes are subject to more wear, tear and dirt and may require more work to clean, but the same careful approach is required. Wipe them with a damp cloth first, then use a reptile skin cleanser if you're not satisfied with the results. Apply it with a soft-bristled shoe brush, let it absorb for 15 minutes, then use a soft cloth or the brush to clean off the dirt.
Teresa Daly has worked in publishing for more than 20 years. She has been an editor at Denver's Westword along with several other publications and sites, and written articles for AOL, Society 6, TypeF.com and more.