When you’ve invested a lot of money in a handbag, making sure it’s a forever item is a must. But taking care of leather goods can be tricky and when they are ones you seriously care about, so much more is a stake.
The place to start, says Jordan Smith of the Handbag Clinic, is with prevention. “Always protect your bag with a reputable protection cream/treatment, this should be done from day one and applied at least once every two to three months.
Proper protection can prevent staining, grease penetration and can prevent all manner of issues later on.
As well as protecting, regular cleaning, even if it is just a quick wipe down is a must. For a quick wipe down, a damp cloth is enough, but typically bags will need a more thorough clean by a professional or using specialist cleaning products every 2-3 months to keep them in top condition.
1. Wipe your bag once a week with warm, soapy water… mix a small amount of mild liquid soap to warm water and use a soft damp cloth to wipe away any dirt from the outside of your handbag.
2. Wipe with the grain of the handbag… to avoid ruining the leather
3. Handbag Clinic top tip: “Never use baby wipes, vinegar or any other ‘home remedy’ for cleaning or stain removal, many of these products have chemicals and substances in them that can cause damage to the colour, dry the leather out, create a build up of grease in the leather and any number of other problems.”
5. If the ink stains are old… don’t try to remove these yourself. They will likely be too stubborn and will need professional care.
7. Never use water on grease stains… these should simply wipe off leather surfaces.
8. Use a professional leather cleaning agent on tougher dirt… these creams don’t need to be rinsed out which can damage your bag further. They might cost more, but the result will be so much more affective.
9.Handbag Clinic top tip: “When cleaning always use a product designed for use on the material, a general leather cleaner will not be as effective on a suede or nubuck interior than a cleaner specifically designed for suede & nubuck for example (due to the absorbent, fibrous nature of the material).”
10. Always spot-test a cleaning method before you use it… preferably somewhere on the inside of the bag that can’t be seen by prying eyes.
11. Avoid holding your handbag if you’ve just applied hand cream… or you’re just ASKING for grease stains.
13. Elias Dry Cleaners top tip: “If you don’t have a dust bag an old pillowcase will do!”
14. Consider buying Stain Cover just in case your bag gets messy… at the Handbag Clinic you can insure up to 15 handbags against stains for a small fee per month.
15. Don’t leave your handbag in direct sunlight… it can cause the colour to fade and damage the leather
16. Elias Dry Cleaners top tip: “Don’t wear light colour handbags with dark clothing as the dye from the clothing may run and transfer to the handbag damaging the colour – one of the hardest stains to remove.”
18. Do not use saddle soap… it’ll most likely be too strong for the leather on your bag and could cause discolouring.
19. Handbag Clinic top tip: “If you do get a nasty smell odour removers can be used (choose the right one for the type of substance causing the smell), but avoid the use of harsh solvent based or aerosol odour removers, they can damage the colour of the bag and even cause damage to the leather itself in some cases.”
20. To banish ever-lingering smells… put an open container of baking powder carefully inside your bag, place your bag into a dustbag or pillow case and leave for 24 hours. The baking powder should absorb any unwanted odours.