10 Tips For Keeping Your Leather Handbag Looking Good For Longer

10 Tips For Keeping Your Leather Handbag Looking Good For Longer

Leather is a natural, living material and will change over time, especially through usage. It's porous and will absorb oils and other substances it comes into contact with. This is a natural part of the ageing process and a good quality leather will generally develop a beautiful patina and softness over time. And there are some things you can do to ensure that you are giving your leather bag their best chance at looking good for longer.
Here are 10 tips for maintaining your leather bags:
1. Don't get your bag wet!


This can be difficult to avoid especially if you get caught in the rain - I’ve been known to shelter my bag by wearing it underneath my jacket to prevent water marks (this might make me overly cautious). If you do end up with a wet bag, don't  put it in front of a heater, on a radiator or use any sort of heat source to accelerate the drying process (eg. a hairdryer, hand dryer or a tumble dryer). Let it dry naturally in a well ventilated room. If it’s soaking wet you can use a towel to pat it dry (don’t rub it though). Once it’s reasonably dry you can stuff your bag with some non-coloured tissue paper or paper towels to help encourage it back into its natural shape as it dries.
    It can also be helpful to protect your bag with a waterproof spray and from time to time - maybe, once or twice a year depending on how often you use it - a leather conditioner can help to ensure it doesn’t dry out. Make sure you patch test  of these in a discrete area as they can both change the colour of your bag.

    2. Be careful with what comes into contact with your bag.


    The natural oils from your hands will transfer to your bag and change its colour over time as will anything else on your hands like hand cream, sun cream, make up and food residue so be conscious of this.  Another one to watch out for is dark clothing, like denim, transferring colour to the leather of your bag. Especially watch out for this if your handbag is a light coloured leather. Pen marks are virtually impossible to get out of leather - if you have the misfortune of getting pen on a leather bag, take it straight to a professional who can try to remove this for you. The quicker you do this, the better the chance of removal. And recently, it's become apparent that anti-bacterial hand wash can bleach the colour out of leather creating permanent, unsightly marks. This happened to me recently when I used the complimentary hand wash when entering a store - it was a particularly runny and before I knew it, it had dripped from my hands onto my bag. So try to be vigilant when using hand sanitiser and maybe just use your own so that you know exactly what the consistency is like. There’s not really a remedy for this white, bleach spot, other than to try to put the colour back through spot dying the area. This is probably something for leather care professionals to tackle.


    3. Keep leather bags out of direct sunlight.

    When you are not using your bag, store it out of sunlight or it can fade quite rapidly, especially if you are in the harsh Australian sun! If this does happen, the parts of the bag that have been in the sun obviously will be faded and the rest will remain close to its original colour. The best you can probably do is flip the side that wasn’t in the sun to give it a chance to fade as well. But, if you feel it's a bag worth saving, perhaps again call in those trusty professionals to see if they can do the job for you.


    4. Be careful of sharp objects

    Sharp objects are a natural enemy of leather - depending on the type of leather, it’s very hard, if not impossible, to remove scratches. Just be aware, when you are carrying your bag, that you can, without realising it, brush up against a harsh surface such as brick walls. You can see evidence of this when you look at some of your bags, the corners are often quite scuffed and the colour fades here faster which quickly gives your bag an aged appearance.


    5. Keep it off the floor

    Try not to put your bag down on the floor, especially on the ground outdoors.  Rough surfaces can scratch your bag but also the floor is not the cleanest of places, especially in public, when compared to a seat, a table or your lap.


    6. Don't carry too much

    Try not to over fill your bag. We are probably all guilty of stuffing our bags with too many things. The bigger the bag, the more we try to stuff into it. But try not to do it as this can make your bag lose its shape, not to mention put a lot of stress on already pressured points like zips, handles and straps. Less overstuffing will prolong the life of your bag and maintain its shape not to mention being better for your back and shoulders!


    7. Careful of spills

    Like me, you might have experienced something breaking inside your bag which then becomes a big stain that goes through to the outside of your bag (thanks bottle of truffle oil purchased at an Italian airport!) You can try to prevent these types of stains by putting anything that might spill or leak - such as make up, pens, creams and liquids - into a separate pouch or carrier in your bag. To be fair, mine was in a plastic bag but I think the trick next time would be to triple bag it.


    8. Rotate bags in your collection

    Similar to shoes, you will get more life out of your bag if you can give it a rest now and then and not use it Every. Single. Day. If you can, have a couple of bags that you can substitute for each other and rotate through your collection, sharing the load, so to speak.


    9. Store it properly

    When you are not using your bag for an extended period, make sure you store it properly. Hanging a bag by its handles will usually pull it out of shape over time, so if you are not planning to use it for a while, don’t leave it hanging on the back of your door. The best way to store your bag is to remove all its contents and stuff it with tissue paper so it keeps its shape. If your bag came with a dust bag, put your bag in it and put it somewhere out of the way like your wardrobe shelf. If you don’t have a dust bag, a cotton pillowcase works as a good alternative. And if, by some chance, you have some packets of silica gel, throw a couple in to prevent mould.


    10. Do not store it in plastic!

    Leather needs to breathe, which it cannot do when it's kept in plastic. Mould can form and once you have mould in leather, you will never get rid of it (have also learnt this the hard way!). Leather cleaner will remove the mould from the surface for a short period of time but it will always come back.


      And a few times, I have mentioned that if your bag needs a little more TLC than you can manage, to take it to a professional. There are companies out there that can do amazing things to restore handbags. This usually does not come cheap but can be well worth it if its a special bag or something that has been a large investment in the first place. I haven’t used these places myself, but I do know that in Melbourne, Evans in the Royal Arcade, has an excellent reputation. For people outside of Melbourne, Google handbag repairs or restoration in your local area, most businesses will be willing to give you a quote based on photos of the bag you need restored.
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