A good handmade leather handbag is a fashion investment. Even with proper care, you handmade leather handbag will get dirty with regular use. 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 handmade leather handbag 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 handmade leather 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.”
4. The key to removing ink marks is to treat them straight away… your first and best bet is to take your handmade leather handbag to see a professional as soon as possible. If you’re unable to, try a special ink removing product for leather and follow the care instructions, making sure to condition the area afterwards and leave to dry properly.
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.
6. Keep your handmade leather handbag stuffed while you’re not using it… to help keep its shape better.
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.
12. If your tote came with a dust bag… use it. These aren’t just for pretty packaging – they are intended to keep your bags dust-free when they’re not being used.
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 handmade leather handbag in direct sunlight… it can cause the color to fade and damage the leather
16. Elias Dry Cleaners top tip: “Don’t wear light color handbags with dark clothing as the dye from the clothing may run and transfer to the handbag damaging the color – one of the hardest stains to remove.”
17. For really stubborn stains… try matching a shoe polish to the color of your bag and buffing a small amount over the affected area.
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, as they can damage the color 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.
Obviously, prevention is the best way to ensure your leather handbag remains in perfect condition for many years. Training yourself to become aware of your handbag’s whereabouts until it becomes a habit is a great way of preventing unnecessary damage or stains. Inspect and be conscious of where you are placing your handbag when you put it down to rest. Ensure every item within the handbag is securely capped to prevent spillage. Avoid placing sharp and pointy objects inside the bag.
Another way to prevent any damage to your handmade leather handbag is to be aware of the property of the leather that is made from. Many high-quality and exotic leathers present on Hermes and Chanel bags are not water resistant. Keeping your bag out of the rain entirely is highly recommended, even with leathers that are water resistant. Also, keep your hands clean when touching the exterior of the bag. Ensure there are no traces of cosmetics or water on your fingers whenever you handle the bag.
Another common cause of marks or scuffs on handmade leather handbag is jeans. Many women wear jeans with their Hermes or Chanel bags and allow the bag to rub off the abrasive material. Constant rubbing against jeans will cause the bag to scratch, scuff, or even worse. If you are wearing jeans while carrying your bag, be conscious of this and hold the handmade leather handbag away from the jeans at all times.
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