Buying a high-quality leather bag may be an investment, but it’s one that’s worthwhile. Not only is it a versatile piece that will always have a place in your wardrobe, it’s also timeless. With proper care, your bag will maintain its shape and quality, and develop a beautiful patina, making it an accessory you will reach for time and time again.
There are a few tips to know in order to safely care for and preserve a leather handbag. For example, did you know it’s a good rule of thumb to wipe down your bag with a cloth after every use? This simple step helps maintain the appearance of the leather.
Another important tip people often aren’t aware of: be mindful of where you place your bag. Make sure you don’t place leather on wet surfaces, especially for a long period of time. Since leather absorbs moisture, exposure to a wet surface causes bacteria buildup, which may lead to mildew. And if leather does get wet, let it dry out naturally — do not use a hairdryer on it because that can dry out the material. Don't put wet leather into direct sunlight to dry either, because that will cause the color to fade.
As a rule, leather bags should be stored away from harsh light or sunlight, and kept in a protective case or covering, if possible.
These are just a few quick and simple tricks to preserve your bags; however, if you want to really extend the life of leather products, you can follow a more detailed routine that includes use of a leather cleaner, waxes or conditioning, and proper storage.
Keep reading for additional steps that will keep leather looking brand new.
Remove Stains Immediately
As soon as you see a mark or stain, make sure to remove it. The longer a stain sets into a fabric or material, the harder it is to remove. Certain stains, such as those from food or blood, can usually be removed with chalk powder. To do so, crush white chalk and sprinkle it onto the stain. Let it sit overnight before dusting it off. For more information, check out our complete guide on how to properly remove stains from leather.
Always Use Clean Hands and a Clean Cloth
Since leather is a natural material, it can be cleaned in a variety of ways but must be done carefully. Using too much cleaning solution will cause the leather to become soggy and potentially wrinkle. Instead, use a damp, soft cloth with clean hands to wipe or dab the surface. When it comes to leather, take a conservative approach! It’s better to start small using a dry cloth, and apply more cleaner or warm water as needed.
Use a Cleaner Specifically Made for Leather
Since all materials are different, it’s important to use a cleaner that’s made for genuine leather. DIY cleaners can ruin leather. To treat the surface, apply the leather cleaner in circular motions and use a damp cloth to remove any excess solution. To avoid over-treating the leather, applying a cleaner one or two times a year should be sufficient.
You can also use a leather-specific protective spray to help prevent stains and extend a bag’s longevity. Test the spray in an inconspicuous area to gauge its effects on the color or finish before applying it to the entire bag. Avoid using cleaning products that contain alcohol, turpentine, or other mineral spirits, which will discolor and dry out leather.
Moisturize With a Leather Conditioner
Just like skin needs to be moisturized to stay youthful, the same goes for leather. Applying a quality leather conditioner will preserve the look and feel of leather goods. Be sure to choose a conditioner that’s intended for leather and apply with a soft pad or microfiber cloth for maximum results.
Proper Storage Helps Maintain Shape and Ensure Longevity
Storage is a crucial part of preserving leather, especially since leather bags may lose their shape depending on how they are stored. Before storing, clean out your bag and allow it to air dry. Then, in order to prevent creases and wrinkles, stuff bags with bubble wrap, which helps to maintain shape while still being gentle on the leather. If the bag has any chrome or metallic features, such as buckles, you can wrap them in clean tissue paper for protection.
Make sure to keep leather bags in a clean, dry place and use silica gel packets to avoid dampness. To optimize protection, store your bags in the original dust bag or a clean pillowcase.
What about suede and other leather items?
No two materials are the same, which is why they must be cleaned and cared for differently. There are various types of leather, such as pebbled, nubuck, and patent leather, and each may require special care specific to them. However, the same steps typically apply to care for a leather surface, including avoiding direct sunlight and using a cleaning solution.
Suede requires a different process to preserve it, but one of the most effective ways is to use a brush and cleaner. Look for products that are specifically intended to treat suede and follow the directions to treat. As with leather bags, proper storage will help keep suede bags looking their best.
Additional Considerations for Leather Care
The most comprehensive way to protect your leather purse is by following the above steps. The best way to care for leather bags is to be considerate of where and how you use them, but unfortunately, accidents happen and sometimes a stain or scratch is inevitable. If you keep the below tips in mind, you’ll be able to preserve your leather bags, even if they encounter a few scuffs!
- Frequent use wears down leather. Care for your bag by giving it time to rest.
- Cosmetics can easily stain materials. Keep cosmetics away from leather as much as possible and try to avoid applying makeup near leather bags.
- To avoid ink stains, be mindful of using pens near your bag or storing them inside your bag. If you're using a leather tote for work or school, consider keeping your pens stored inside a case or bag.
- Other products, such as hair spray, can negatively impact leather. Be mindful when using such products or visiting a salon.
Treat your Leather Bag with Care for a Lifetime Heirloom
The timeless style, durability, and quality of a genuine leather purse is an investment worth protecting. Treat it right, and a genuine leather bag will last your lifetime. Clean leather as soon as it's dirty. Be mindful of exposing it to harmful cleaners, sprays, or other products that may cause stains or damage. Never keep your bag in direct sunlight or on a wet surface; instead, store it in a dry and dark space, preferably in a dust bag. And finally, avoid wear and tear by giving your bag a rest some days!