For the Love of Leather: Caring for your Leather Handbags
Just invested in a luxury or vintage handbag? Whether it’s Store-Fresh or Pre-Owned, we’ve got you covered on how to keep your bag in Mint Condition, so you (or someone else) can enjoy it for years to come! Read our luxury handbag care guide for our top tips.
1. Elemental Protection
The first thing to consider when it comes to handbag care is protection from the elements. Natural elements can wreak havoc on your leather bag causing a myriad of problems. Take steps to ensure your bag doesn’t become a casualty of Mother Nature.
- Water: It can be absorbed into the leather and cause water marks and discoloration. If your bag comes in contact with water, wipe immediately with a microfiber cloth.
- Light: Direct and prolonged exposure to sunlight can alter the color of your bag. Artificial light can also be harmful, for example, if your bag sits directly under a spotlight (either while on display in a store or in your closet at home). Avoid potential damage by keeping your bag away from direct sources of light.
- Heat: Intense heat can negatively affect your bag resulting in warping and melting of leather, changes in texture, and even discoloration. Keep your bag clear from sources of heat.
- Temperature: Damp or humid environments can cause damage to the leather and even spur the growth of mold. Store your bags in a temperature-controlled space.
2. Substance Abuse
There are certain substances that can severely damage your bag and should be avoided at all costs. If you encounter any of these damages, it’s best to consult a leather repair shop.
- Oil: Oil-based products like makeup can permanently stain the interior and exterior of a bag.
- Alcohol: Alcohol-based products like perfumes or harsh chemicals can alter the integrity of your bag and leave permanent stains.
- Ink: Ink stains and pen marks are almost impossible to correct.
- Dye: Strong Dyes that are typically used in Denim can rub off on a light-colored bag causing immediate color transfer.
3. Keeping up Appearances: Exterior
Each luxury brand has their own tips for handbag care; most do not recommend the use of cleansers or lotions on their leather, and suggest professional cleaning. However, most leather repair experts advocate the use of proper products and methods to keep your bag clean.
- Evaluate: Not all leathers are created equal; verify the type of leather before choosing a cleanser or lotion. Consult a leather repair expert or restoration specialist if needed.
- Test: Before applying product to the bulk of your handbag, it’s best to test a small area first to gauge the leather’s reaction.
- Supplies: A microfiber cloth will often work for a smooth leather when it comes to cleansing and conditioning, but a leather cleaning brush may be needed for a textured leather.
- Method: Leather experts suggest applying the chosen cleanser to a cloth or brush and cleaning the leather in a circular motion.
4. Beauty on the Inside: Interior
The interior of your bag holds the contents of your life and sometimes that can get messy, but keeping it clean is just as important.
- Lining: Pull out the lining of your bag (when applicable) to shake any debris or particles loose. Using a Compressed Air Duster and Lint Roller can aid in this process.
- Spots and Stains: Fabric interiors can be spot-cleaned with mild soapy water or alcohol-free baby wipes. Leather or Suede interiors should be spot-cleaned with a leather cleanser and suede brush respectively.
- Scent: Placing scented dryer sheets inside the bag (pockets included) can help alleviate unpleasant odors.
5. Let it Shine: Hardware
Over time hardware can become scratched and dull, luckily there is a quick fix for that.
- Clean & Polish: Use a jewelry polishing cloth to clean hardware and restore shine. In severe cases, a tarnishing solvent can be used, but must be done with extreme care to avoid getting on the bag.
6. Handbag Emergencies
There is such a thing as a Handbag Emergency, and we recommend relying on the pro’s for these situations.
- Dying or Color Correction: This is an extremely sensitive process (some artisans won’t even do it), but sometimes necessary to either correct color loss in small areas or restore your bag to its natural shade.
- Hardware Repair or Replacement: Any missing or malfunctioning hardware should be handled by a professional to ensure the parts used are accurate in aesthetic and functionality.
- Any encounter with “Substance Abuse”: A professional can assess the damage and determine the best solution.
- Holes or Tears of any kind: Whether the damage is to the interior or exterior of the bag, a leather repair shop will have the appropriate equipment and tools to repair.