15 Leather Handbag Cleaning Hacks you NEED in your life

If you want to boost the longevity of your handbag, here are a few tips

Handbags have shown a continuous popularity with the public, yielding sales which continuously increase from year to year. And while the cloth handbag has made somewhat of a comeback in the summer months, the dominant handbags are leather. Forbes’s top 10 designer bags for 2016 are all leather. Forbes notes that “these purchases should be treated as investments, rather than expensive gifts; They will never lose their charm, admirable qualities, or value, which means that every woman should have at least one”. Because a leather handbag is an investment, taking care of your investment is vital to its longevity and worth. Here are 15 leather handbag cleaning hacks you NEED in your life.

  1. Use warm water and kid friendly soap once a week

When people think of leather, they typically try to avoid water. And while cleaning nubuck leather or something similar would not be recommended, harder leathers such as cow hide leather handbags, can have a minimum amount of water and standard kid friendly soap applied to clean the surface. Because your handbag will accumulate a ton of bacteria (think of all the nasty places where you set it down from the subway to the toilet stall) during the week, it is advised that you clean your bag once a week.

  1. Remove dirt accumulation daily

Quite simply, remove all of the contents from the bag and turn it over. As you accumulate dirt and small pieces of junk daily, you should perform this task at the end of the day to avoid getting something lost at the bottom of the bag which could potentially damage the product.

  1. Use a gum eraser on interior ink scuffs

While there are those that encourage a magic eraser, such can be too abrasive on a leather handbag. A gum eraser is intended for the art world and is commonly used to remove ink. Keep in mind that seeded stains will need to be professionally removed. However, for the minor scuff the gum eraser or a non-abrasive magic eraser may work (you may also want to try one of those nifty Tide stain removal pens, though I am not sure as to the success you will have).

  1. Permanent marker can be removed with toothpaste

When I first heard of using toothpaste to remove permanent marker I was a bit skeptical. Yet, the method does work. This is great for the parent who has kids which may throw a marker on the kitchen table and mark your bag or for the busy owner who may put a permanent marker into his or her handbag with a loose top. Simply apply evenly some toothpaste to the spot with marker, use a wet cloth and gently scrub the surface.

  1. Use baby powder and a nourishment cream

Handbags which have been in storage can use nourishing cream and baby powder to remove some of the small white spots which occur. However, it is recommended that you use a leather conditioner.

  1. Keep it out of the sun to keep it vibrant

Leather is very susceptible to fading if left in the sun. To avoid unwarranted fading of the handbag or the dyes of the bag, keep it out of the sun as much as possible.

  1. Stuff your bag with newspaper when cleaning to maintain the shape

When cleaning your handbag, you want to ensure that the bag retains its shape. Pushing and bending the leather may cause the handbag to have notable creases and can cause damage to the bag. To minimize this risk, put newspaper in your bag (being careful not to overstuff) when cleaning.

  1. Apply a leather conditioner

Hides are skin and therefore need to have conditioning and moisture in order to keep the material looking healthy. Do not go overboard with your conditioner as it can lead to an oily and stained handbag. Follow the directions of the leather conditioner or the leather shampoo that you are using. The last thing you want is to spend thousands on a bag just to end up having the aesthetics looking like wax or plastic from overzealous cleaning.

  1. Avoid abrasive brushes

Soft leathers often call for using a brush to remove minor defects. Be careful when choosing your brush. Too abrasive of such can damage the quality of the leather. In cases where the leather is already thin, such as in lambskin, an abrasive brush can tear the leather.

  1. Be gentle when cleaning to avoid damaging threads

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes a person can make when cleaning their leather handbag is to go aggressive on thick leather. I have seen multiple sites and some of the top “DIY” and homemaker shows advocate being tough on thick leather. While it is true that they are more durable, for the most part, a person has to consider the thread. Going aggressive on your handbag is very apt to fray the stitching, rip or tear detail work out of the bag, or damage the lining/biding.

  1. Test your cleaner in an inconspicuous area

Before you use any cleaner, ensure that it is safe for your handbag’s leather. Check your specific bag by using a q-tip and swabbing an interior inconspicuous space to see how the cleaner will affect your bag.

  1. Use baby wipes on painted leather

Should you have a painted rather than an imbedded dye handbag, you can use baby wipes to remove stains. While you can use baby wipes on imbedded dyes, stains are typically more impregnated into the leather and should seek the skills of a professional leather artisan to remove such.

  1. Avoid cleaning on hard surfaces

Where you want to have a solid surface to clean your handbag, you also want to avoid putting your bag into a type of vice. Using a hard surface creates on side of the vice while you pressing down on the leather causes the other. Such can cause the bag to become misshaped. When working on cleaning your leather handbag, put a towel or thick cloth down on the hard surface to decrease the risk of damage.

  1. Use a light brush on nubuck to remove rain spots

Nubuck leather is already sanded down and so using a slightly abrasive brush to remove water stains is ok. Keep in mind that the more water there is the more brushing you will need to do. Additionally, if water damage is over a substantial portion of the handbag, consider adding a light coat of water to the brush to even out the look.

  1. Have a professional clean the bag seasonally

Let’s face it. Not every bag should be cleaned by hand and not every stain should be a DIY project. If you have invested a great deal of money on your designer leather handbag, then make the further investments to ensure that the upkeep and the maintenance are taken care of professionally.