Caring for your luxury handbags: The ultimate guide
Whether you’ve just purchased your first designer handbag or are adding one to an extensive collection, we all want our bags to stay in great condition for years to come. Many of us, however, are guilty of not knowing the fundamentals of handbag care. Proper upkeep can be the difference between your bag lasting for generations or looking worn after just one season of carrying it.
We’ve put together the ultimate guide to caring for your handbag - from what to think about when you’re using it, to how to clean it and store it in the best way.
Know your handbag
Designer handbags come in a wealth of different materials, and it’s important to know what yours is made of to make sure you’re taking care of it properly. There are many different types of leather, all which have varied properties, so look into the details of the bag you’ve purchased. Most luxury brands will provide their own advice too, which you should learn and follow. Have a look at our previous blog posts, where we have guides for taking care of your Hermès Birkin, as well as for how to store typical winter materials like faux fur or shearling.
Another thing to think about when buying a new designer handbag is to keep its original box, dust bag and paperwork in case you ever want to sell it.
Maintain it while out and about
Proper handbag care starts with treating it right every time you use it.
Having lots of things rolling around in your bag makes it much more likely the interior will become worn, scuffed or stained (watch out for pens!) To protect it, you can find inserts and liners in all sizes which both help keep your bag clean and make things easier to find. You can also use pouches and wallets to keep your essentials contained and minimise any spill or scratch risk.
Heavy or bulky items can distort your bag and stretch the handles in the long term - so avoid using your Hermès Kelly to carry a laptop too often, as it could drastically reduce its lifespan. Constant use will also wear out any item, so it’s a good idea to rotate your bags so that they can rest.
As mentioned above, make sure you know what your bag can handle. Some handbags are incredibly sensitive to watermarks so it might be best to leave them at home if there’s any chance of rain and be extra careful around liquids. A good tip is to have a dust bag handy so that you can cover your handbag if you have no choice but to expose it to a dirty surface, like a conveyor belt at the airport.
Wipe it down after every use
We recommend giving your handbags a quick once-over after every use, which will allow you to notice any stains and remove them right away so they don’t sink in.
First, empty your handbag of its contents and dust. Turn it upside down and shake gently, then use a lint-roller for reaching the corners inside if you wish. Wipe down the outside of your bag and the hardware with a dry paper towel or a lint-free fiber cloth - for any hard to reach cracks, a soft brush is useful. If your handbag is made of hard-pressed, grained leather, you can also use a damp paper towel or an alcohol-free baby wipe, although this should be avoided on suede, exotic skins, and all natural or untreated leathers.
In the event of minor marks that haven’t been allowed to set, rubbing them with the above is usually enough. Some leather and suede can also be treated with special maintenance products like cream, spray and protecting agents - again, it pays to know your bag!
For any more difficult stains and repairs, always take handbags to a professional or the brand itself if possible, as you risk ruining your bag or reducing its value if you attempt anything yourself.
Storing it properly is essential
Lastly, don’t get into the habit of hanging up your bag when you come home - on a doorknob, a hook, or anything else, and particularly not with items inside - as this can quickly distort both the bag and the handles. Also avoid just dropping it down on the floor or a chair until the next time you need it. Storing your handbag well in between uses is fundamental.
The main reason handbags sag, wrinkle and become misshapen is because they haven’t been filled when not in use, and have instead been stored in awkward positions.
Bagpad offers handbag shapers specially designed for all luxury brands, and can also be made bespoke based on your bag’s specifications. Bagpads are a more sustainable, practical, and beautiful solution than filling your bags with tissue or old scarves, and also protect from excessive moisture and odours.
Don’t fill your bag with newspaper, as the ink can transfer onto the bag’s lining.
Put your handbag inside a soft, breathable dust bag, making sure it’s large enough to fit. Most handbags come with a dust bag on purchase, but if you haven’t kept yours or need more, Bagpad offers one in two different sizes. Dust bags help protect your bag from light and minimise oxidation, which is one of the main reasons items decay in quality.
If you have a lot of bags, a good tip is to include a note on your dustbag to make the one you’re looking for easier to find.
Ideally, handbags should be stored in their original box with the top off so that the leather can breathe. You can also store them in an upright position, somewhere like a shelf in your closet.
Too much light, heat or moisture can cause your bag to fade, crack or develop mould, so make sure you keep it away from direct sunlight, radiators, and anywhere too damp or humid. Make sure they’re not kept squished or rubbing together either, as this can cause warping, unsightly marks and colour transfer.
If your shelf isn’t tall enough, lay your bag flat instead of upright to avoid handles becoming pressed down, but never store bags in a pile.
Heavy handles, such as chain link straps, can cause imprints or scratches if stored pressed to the side of your bag, so make sure you unclip and store these inside the bag or separately in their own dustbag. It’s also recommended to wrap any exposed hardware like buckles and zippers with tissue or lint-free cloth so that they don’t mark the leather over time.