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How to Care for Leather Handbags

by Andrea Campbell

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Leather bags

Things You Need:

  • Leather cleaner
  • Leather conditioner
  • Bubble wrap
  • Dust bag or pillowcase
  • Tissue paper
  • Soft cotton cloth
  • Suede brush
  • White chalk powder

Are you looking for a classic, stylish and durable handbag? Look no further than leather. While they can be more costly, good-quality leather bags can keep their shape for years if you care for them properly. Proper care prevents the leather from drying out and cracking, and it protects it from excessive moisture that can cause the skin to swell or mildew. This guide will provide you with tips to ensure your investment will last and you'll have a soft, reliable leather handbag for years to come.

Caring for Leather Handbags:

  1. Handle leather handbags with clean hands. Leather bags are susceptible to absorbing grease and oils. Wipe the surface of a leather tote with a damp white cotton cloth, but be careful not to use too much water, because leather takes time to dry.

  2. Apply a cleaner especially made for leather. This "soft soap" is applied using a circular motion and wiped off with a slightly damp cloth so as not to clog the pores of the fabric. Applying this soap one or two times a year should keep your leather handbag clean.

  3. Moisturize your bag with a leather conditioner to keep it supple. Do not use a conditioner on patent leather purses.

  4. Remove stains as soon as you notice them. Organic stains from food or blood can often be removed with chalk powder. Crush white chalk, let it sit on the stain overnight and dust it off with a clean cloth.

  5. Stuff your unused bag with bubble wrap to restore and hold its shape. Store your leather purse in a dust bag or natural-fabric pillowcase. You can wrap the chrome or metallic parts -- a chain handle, for example -- in clean, acid-free tissue paper. If you've just cleaned the bag, allow it to air dry completely before storage. If you're storing long-term, ease open the buckles and straps so impressions are released. This helps to avoid rubbing or permanent creases in unwanted areas.

  6. Clean suede bags with a suede brush. Double check the manufacturer's suggestions for other cleaning solutions. Sometimes, a clean pink eraser can remove small spots from leather totes.

Tips:

  1. Think about using a leather-specific protective spray for brushed or finished leather if you use your bag frequently. Test this product first in an inconspicuous area to see if the finish darkens.

  2. Keep cosmetics inside a pouch. Cap all pens and anything that leaks. Get a small pencil case to protect the leather and keep small items from spilling or damaging the fabric.

  3. White bags will yellow or naturally darken with age.

Warnings:

  1. Avoid cleaning products with alcohol, turpentine or other mineral spirits as they will discolor and dry out leather.

  2. Never allow water to soak into your bag. If the bag gets wet, do not use a hair dryer on it. Instead, absorb as much water as possible with a thick microfiber hand towel and allow the bag to air dry. Then, condition it again and store it.

  3. Take extra special care of your bag at hair salons and keep it away from coloring solutions, hair sprays and other hair products.

  4. Waxes or silicone products clog up leather pores and may render them unable to be cleaned in the future.

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