Good quality leather handbags are the end result of painstakingly detailed craftsmanship, so they deserve to be treated with utmost care. The need to maintain your leather bags becomes even more pertinent in Singapore, as the humid conditions might cause these precious carryalls to wear out faster. But taking care of leather goods can be tricky, and stressful, especially when they are your one investment piece.
There are different types of leather, which means different ways to care of each one, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. But before we go into how you can specifically care for 5 different types, here are some general rules and neat tricks you can deploy to save any leather piece and increase its lifespan.
Carry along a cosmetics pouch: Yes, we know it is more convenient to place your blushers and loose powders directly into the smaller compartments of your bags; but these products are prone to spillage and are bound to stain the linings of your bags. Invest in a separate bag for your make-up — we’d suggest something simple, and affordable, like this Charlotte Tilbury cotton cosmetics case, or if you’re a fancy girl, opt for this Mulberry textured-leather pouch.
Keep your dustbags: After every usage, store your leather bags in their dustbag, and stow them away in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.
Treat them like your baby: Leather bags need plenty of care and attention. We recommend cleaning your bag after every use with a clean, dry cloth. If there are any unwanted fine particles inside your bags, flip them inside out and use a lint roller to remove them.
Avoid water: Water and leather do not mix since leather has a permeable nature, so refrain from getting your leather bags caught in the rain.
Stuff them with newspaper: Since leather is supple in nature, they would tend to go out of shape after perpetual use. In order to maintain its original shape, it’s important that you keep and reuse the original stuffing that has been provided, or use a soft material — like polyester or even cotton towels. Never, we repeat, never consider newspapers as an alternative for stuffing, as they would stain the insides of your bags, especially those that are light coloured or unlined.
Use vinyl or plastic for storage: They are non-porous and good tools in trapping moisture, which can encourage mold build-up and cause your product to discolour. It’s important to let the leather breathe.
Forget to remove everything before storage: Do not neglect those little pockets — any objects, from pens to lipsticks, would cause stains and unwanted damage to the insides of your bags if they are not properly kept.
If you are to own a collection of leather handbags, chances are half of them are made of calfskin. Not only are they smooth and lightweight in texture, they’re known for their strong durability, which is why they’re the most commonly used leather for bags. Whether your leather handbags are fashioned in grained or smooth calfskin leather, here are some Dos and Don’ts you should take note of.
Maintain their shine: Calfskin leather would turn lackluster over time, especially those dyed into a lighter colour such as tan, sand and nude. Wipe your bag with a clean, dry cloth after every use — it might be tiresome, but it’s a small sacrifice to prolong your bag’s longevity. Tip: If you were to discover a dent in your bag, massage the affected area, as well as the opposite area, with clean, dry fingers or a piece of cloth.
Protect each bag individually when storing: For those who tend to store all their bags together, the hardware details of your bags — like the zippers or clips — might cause unwanted indentations on your leather products. Take extra care of bags made of smooth calfskin, like Céline’s Trio and Luggage Tote. They are highly prone to scratches so storing them properly in dustbags will prevent this from happening.
Sunlight: As calfskin ages much quicker when they’re in contact with sunlight, it means that extended exposure would speed up its darkening process. Hence, store them in enclosed spaces away from harsh sun rays — your wardrobe is a great choice as opposed to leaving them on bag racks.
This type of leather has a shiny, mirror-like finish that instantly wins us over, because its glossy surface screams fun and flirty. In fact, we’re so obsessed with the reflective fabric that we can’t help longing for a piece (after all, they’re a cheaper alternative to diamonds). Still, this type of leather can be scuffed easily if we are not careful, so you’d need to know how to keep them in good shape.
Restore their shine frequently: Patent leathers are coated with a high gloss finish so letting them go dull is not an option. Wipe the surface of your bags with a glass cleaning solution using a soft white cloth or cotton pads — avoid using the agent directly on your bag, as it might be too strong and damage the surface even further.
Keep black stains at bay: Bags made of patent leather are vulnerable to scuffs that would leave dark stains, so in order to remove and clean them, saturate cotton swabs in nail polish remover and start wiping the stains away.
Store them randomly: As there might be a possibility of colour bleeding, refrain from letting your patent leather purses from resting on another surface. Also, avoid placing the bags next to anything that is richly dyed as the colours may transfer, causing undesired staining to occur. Keep them safe by storing them back into the dustbags that have been provided. If you’ve misplaced them, pillow cases work too.
Vegan leather is often sought as an alternative to animal leather (think of Stella McCartney’s Falabella bags). However, because these are faux (or synthetic) pieces typically made of materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU), their durability is not as remarkable as genuine leather.
Keep them looking new: Since they are man-made leathers, it is safe for them to come into direct contact with water or oil based products. We recommend using a layer of baby oil to give your bags an extra protective layer — this prevents them from faster damage caused by heat and humidity.
Clean them often: If your faux leather bags are starting to get dirty, use a damp cloth to wipe them or gently hand wash them. Refrain from using heat or dry cleaning as the chemicals could destroy your bag, leading to cracks.
Store them directly under sunlight: As the leather is artificially produced, the strong UVB sun rays will break down the molecular compounds used to create this material. Long term exposure will cause ugly cracks to surface — rendering the bag unwearable. Similarly to the other types of leather bags, storing them away from the sun in a cool, dark environment is highly recommended.
This buttery-smooth leather is a favourite among leather lovers because of its pliable and soft texture (hello Chloe’s Faye bag!). However, its material also makes it highly vulnerable to dirt and damage, so extra care is needed to protect them from wear and tear.
Use a protective spray: Be preventive! To make sure your suede bags don’t meet with any water damage or visible liquid stains, coat them with a water repellent spray before bringing them out. We recommend this Jason Markk’s repel spray — its water-based formula is safe to use on suede and is guaranteed to keep your bags safe.
Clean them with appropriate tools: If your bags managed to get stained despite your best abilities, try using this Kiwi’s suede and nubuck stain eraser, or this Jason Markk’s suede cleaning kit. They’re not 100% foolproof when it comes to really stubborn stains, but they can lighten them at least.
Come into contact with water or oil: As we have mentioned, suede is one material that can be extremely hard to treat when damaged, so try to avoid direct contact with liquids. This means no hand cream either — hand creams are rich in oils that will cause some nasty stains.
The Queen of all leather handbags, exotic skins are super luxe and of the highest grade among all leathers. Made from the hides of animals such as alligators, pythons and ostriches, if you own one of these exclusive bags (cue the extremely pricey Hermès Crocodile Birkin bags), you can be sure you’d want to pay close attention to their maintenance.
Use a leather conditioner regularly: Some exotic skins, such as python and ostrich, tend to lose their moisture much faster than other bags, so remember to condition them regularly. Doing so once every two months, or once a month if you carry them around frequently, would be a good bet. Do ensure that the leather conditioner is suitable for the skin of your bags, like this Chamberlain’s Leather Care Liniment No. 1, which is known to be gentle and friendly to exotic skins. Tip: For bags within the reptilian family (like snakes or crocodiles), make sure you clean them in the direction of their scales to prevent flaking.
Store them carefully: In this case, simply keeping them in dustbags inside your wardrobe just won’t cut it. These babies require extra special treatment, especially in our humid weather. Store them in a temperature controlled environment, or seal in an airtight container to prevent any contaminants or moisture from contacting the leather.
Get them wet: It goes without saying that these bags can’t touch liquid at all costs. Exotic skinned leather bags are fragile in nature so if you do spill your drink on them, dab on the affected area with a soft white cotton towel. Don’t rub the spot, and never use soap and water to clean it. Air dry it instead of using a hairdryer, which will cause more damage.
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