So now you've purchased your beautiful new leather handbag
- and you want to keep it that way! Leather requires special handling and maintenance to keep it looking and wearing its best.
First of all, remember not all leather is created equal! There are different ways to care for and clean patent leather, suede leather, and finished leather bags.
Here are some tips that should keep your bag looking it are best for years to come:
Patent leather requires the least amount of care, as it already has a protective coating of varnish or lacquer applied in the final steps of tanning.
It's a hard finish, not very breathable, but that means it's much less susceptible to stains and easier to clean.
A quick wipe-down with a mild soap and preferably distilled water (as tap water often has dulling elements of chlorine and minerals) is often all that's needed.
To restore the luster when needed, use a quality silicon product applied with a soft, clean cloth.
Never, ever use a wax or Vaseline on patent leather! It will become a dust magnet instantly, and start to look muddy and dull.
While suede is certainly beautifully supple and soft to the touch, it's often the hardest to clean and maintain, and is very susceptible to staining and discoloration.
Of course the first thing to remember for suede is, keep it away from water! It has no protective coating to guard it.
You can apply conditioning or waterproofing products to help protect your bag, often available at shoe repair shops; you should also invest in a soft suede brush, and use it every 3 to 4 months to remove surface dirt and renew the nap of the suede.
If your bag does get wet, allow it to dry naturally. Suede will dry stiff, so brush the nap gently to restore it.
When brushing the nap, always remember to brush in one direction. Circular brushing may damage the nap.
If you get a grease or oil stain, try applying talcum powder and allowing it to sit for 24 hours, and brush gently.
Another stain removal remedy that's been highly useful on a variety of stains and scuff marks is a natural or uncolored pencil eraser! But avoid using vigorous force; again, be gentle.
Under no circumstances should you use soap or any water based product to clean suede items.
Moisturize often. Leather needs oils to keep it supple. A conditioning cream such as saddle soap will serve your bag well.
Applying protective conditioners before use and at regular intervals (at least twice a year) will help prevent your bag from drying out, cracking and staining. Also, it's a good idea to use a leather protector. Leather cleaners and protectors can be found at almost any shoe repair shop.
Always apply products with a clean soft cloth, never directly to the leather as it may cause staining.
Some stains can be removed with ordinary chalk powder! Crush white chalk and let it sit on the stain for 24 hours, then just dust off with a clean cloth.
Keep in mind that your leather bag will age with a natural darkening of the color over time.
General Tips for All Leather Bags
If your bag should get wet, allow it to air dry naturally. Never, under any circumstances, use a heater or hair dryer! This will dehydrate and damage the leather.
Never use cleaning solvents or chemicals on a leather bag. Remember, leather is a natural product, so use natural products on it!
Keep any small items you might carry that could leak (like cosmetics or pens) inside a pouch.
When storing your bag, stuff it with paper or bubble wrap to hold its shape. Never use a plastic bag to store it in, as it can emit chemicals that might damage the leather, or encourage the growth of mildew as it's not a breathable material. Use a dust bag or natural fiber pillowcase.
Remember, a good leather bag is an investment. Following these tips to properly care for your investment will ensure you enjoy your beautiful leather bag for many years to come.
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