Luxury leather handbags are the end result of painstakingly detailed craftsmanship and they cost a pretty penny, so they definitely need to be treated with utmost care.
With Singapore’s humidity, we need to take extra care of our leather bags. But taking care of leather goods can be tricky and stressful, especially when it comes to your investment pieces.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution and bags come in different types of leathers and textures. But before we go into how you can specifically care for five different types (calfskin leather, patent leather, vegan leather, suede leather and exotic leather), here are some general rules to care for your leather pieces and increase their lifespan.
1. Pack a cosmetics pouch in your bag
It might be more convenient to place your blushers and loose powders directly into the smaller compartments of your bags, but these products are prone to spillage. When that happens, they are likely to stain the linings of your bags.
So use a separate pouch to keep your make-up products. A simple makeup pouch — such as the reusable ones that you receive when you buy some beauty products — could save you hundreds of dollars instead of getting the professionals to clean up the mess later on.
2. Keep your dustbags
Remember to treat your bag 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. Then, keep the bag in the dustbag it came with. Stow them away in a cool, dark place and away from direct sunlight.
Avoid water: Water and leather do not mix well because leather has a permeable nature. So keep a dehumidifier in your cupboard and refrain from getting your leather bags caught in the rain.
3. Don’t stuff them with newspaper
Since leather is supple in nature, it tends to go out of shape with regular 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.
Don’t use vinyl or plastic for storage: They are non-porous and good tools in trapping moisture, which can encourage mould build-up and cause your product to discolour. It’s important to let leather breathe.
Also, remember to remove everything before keeping away your leather bags. 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.
Care tips for calfskin leather bags
If you own a leather handbag, chances are, it is made from calfskin. Not only is calfskin smooth and lightweight, but it’s also known for strength and durability.
That is why calfskin is 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.
Extra tip: If you discover a dent in your bag, massage the affected area, as well as the opposite area, using clean, dry fingers or a piece of cloth.
Protect each bag individually when storing: If you simply place your bags on top of or next to each other, the hardware — 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 their respective dustbags will prevent this from happening.
Expose them to sunlight: As calfskin ages much quicker when in contact with sunlight, extended exposure can 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.
Care tips for patent leather bags
Photo: Louis Vuitton
This type of leather has a shiny, mirror-like finish that instantly wins us over, because its glossy surface screams fun and flirty. But this type of leather is high-maintenance and can be scuffed easily if we are not careful, so you need to know how to keep them in good condition.
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 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 rest 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. Yes, for real.
Care tips for vegan/faux leather bags
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: As vegan leather is man-made, it is safe for it to come into direct contact with water or oil-based products. We recommend using baby oil to give your bags an extra protective layer — this slows down the damage caused by heat and humidity.
Clean them often: If your faux leather bags start 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.
Prolonged exposure will cause ugly cracks to surface — rendering the bag unusable. Similar to the other types of leather bags, storing them away from the sun in a cool, dark environment is highly recommended.
Care tips for suede leather bags
This textured leather is a favourite among leather lovers because of its pliable and soft texture. 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: 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. Consider Jason Markk 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 still get stained despite your best abilities, try using Ecco Nubuck and Suede Eraser. It’s developed especially for delicate suede.
Let them 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 — they are usually rich in oils that will cause some nasty stains.
Care tips for exotic leather bags
Arguably the ‘Queen’ of all leather handbags, exotic skins are super luxe, and they are 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’d want to pay special 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 the Chamberlain’s Leather Care Liniment No. 1, which is known to be gentle and friendly to exotic skins.
Extra 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: 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 them in an airtight container to prevent any contaminants or moisture from coming in contact with the leather.
Let them get wet: Exotic skinned leather bags are fragile in nature so if you 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.
With these care tips in mind, you can go forth and give your leather bags the love the deserve, and save yourself the hassle of having to restore them in future!