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leather-stories

Loved Bags Last: Part 3 ~ How to clean my bag?

Maria Florencia Guategui

how to clean my bag

It's time for taking care of our friend, our gal, the one that's always by our side, YES.... YOUR HANDBAG!

Most of us have a weekly routine of cleaning around the house: kitchen, bathroom, living room, rooms, yard, clothes, but... what about our handbags?

We often forget to remember that it's the piece of item that we use the most! Let's be honest, usually you tend to have a favorite that you use EVERY DAY. It's with you all day, to the coffee shop, on the commute, at work, to the grocery store, sometimes it's even on the floor for a while soooo... Of course it will get dirty!

Btw this one is my fav right now ;)

snake print handbag

And now, as she is taking a sweet vacation from the outside world it's your turn to show her some love! #lovedbagslast

So let's get going:

Interior

1) Toss all tissues & unnecessary papers, then remove all objects.

2) This is the perfect time to organize your belongings too: Always put brushes and make up in a small make up bag, check out for pens that are too old or without lid as they are the worst stains for bags and very hard to remove, coins carry dirt so don't have them laying around, etc.

3) If the lining of your bag is from fabric and it's not attached to the body of the bag -meaning that if you put your hand and pull out it looks like a separate fabric bag- pull it out and shake it to remove any small papers or extra dirt. If it's attached you can still put it upside down and shake it or use a hand vacuum cleaner.

cleaning bag inside lining fabric

4) For stains in all material the first good things to do is try to remove it with a damp cloth, moving the cloth from the corner of the stain to the inside -you want to avoid making it bigger-, if the stain persist you can use a product according to the material.

For fabric a regular stain remover will do.

For leather interiors be careful, as the leathers for linings are usually a lot thinner and delicate, so use a product made for leather stains and always try it out first in a hidden spot to make sure it will not ruin it. Also apply a small amount of product lightly while trying it out. 

For suede interiors be EXTRA careful, as they can be easily ruined or make the stain worst. Try first with a dry soft brush over the stain, -again moving it inside the stain- groom the hair to get out anything that may be stuck in it, usually this works perfectly! I wouldn’t recommend a product nor water in this particular material as it can make it worse. If you have deeper stains or marks, you will need to seek out a professional cleaner that specializes in this type of material.

5) If you use a purse organizer insert this is the time to clean that baby too, check if they are machine washable first!

6) Before moving to the exterior leave your bag’s lining dry naturally. Remember don’t use any heat source, nor electric nor sun, just let it dry inside your house.

 

Exterior

7) Depending on the type of material your bag is you'll use a different product but always start with a damp cloth.

  • For Chrome tanned leather

This leather is low mantainance, so you’ll only want to apply a regular leather wax or some sort of spray that will make it more resistant to water & stains. If you are using a spray or any type of product, don't use it directly on the bag, put a small amount on a dry soft cloth and then apply it! Also, do not get something with oils in it, just something that will protect the surface. Shoe wax works well for chrome tanned leather*. You can re-apply these products on the product once every six months, or if the shine is gone.

*Even within the category of chrome tanned leather, there are leathers with different finishes that will require different kinds of a care. Pebbled leather that has not been finished with an artificial surface treatment will age naturally, developing a nice patina if well cared for. With these types of leathers you can use a soft cloth to remove any dirt and if you want some wax or spray to bring back the shine.

In case of metallic leathers, that has a more artificial grain, like stamped leathers and anything with particularly shiny finish, won’t age in the same way and probably won’t need as much maintenance. The areas that are most rubbed on will darken a little but it is part of it's natural process and should be embraced. This kind of leather can also be cleaned more easily with a soft cloth to remove the dirt and won't be necessary to use wax or spray in most cases.

  • For Vegetable tanned leather

This type of leather develops a unique patina with wear, but will need to take more care. It's important to clean and apply a conditioning treatment or saddle soap, every four to ten months, depending on how much you use it outside and how you want your bag to look like. 

-Note: If you are not sure which type of leather is your bag go check my previous blog post about leather basics.-

  • For Piñatex (made from pineapple leaf fibers)

Use a natural colourless wax by applying a small amount to a dry, soft cloth and rub sparingly over the textile in a circular motion until fully absorbed. Do not use too much wax as it may not fully absorb. Leave your bag to dry naturally for 24 hours after application. You can also buff the wax off with a dry cloth or soft brush.

  • For synthetic

These bags are made mostly from plastic or vinyl material, so the cleaning should be simpler. You can clean it with soap, warm water and a cloth/rag. With a damp cloth rub the soap, wringing out the excess water, and wipe down your bag. Next, rub with another water-dampened cloth without soap, and then dry it with a dry cloth.

 

    leather embossed exterior clean bag

     

    8) Handles and flaps are the parts that usually have the most contact with your hands so give them a good rub, then bottoms & corners as they have more contact with surfaces and then the rest. For hardware, if they are metal you can use a polishing cloth, don’t use any product or liquid into the hardware as it could leave a stain on the leather and could ruin the hardware.

    9) Once you’ve applied the product, use a microfiber cloth to wipe off any potential excess cleaning product that may be left behind.

    10) Let it dry naturally inside for the rest of the day, and then storage! For storage tips go to my previous blog post of the #lovedbagslast series. 

     

    Extra - About desinfecting leather!

    It’s not something I have done yet, but still I wanted to share what I found regarding this topic from people that are experts at keeping your bags clean, that’s how I found https://www.lovingyourbags.com/ which sells home care kits for leather! And they recommend this general tip:

    ‘(...) Leather’s got a pH value – the measure of acidity or alkalinity – generally around a 4.5, so it’s fairly acidic. The problem with many of your commercial and hospital grade cleaners (lysol, bleach, etc.) is that they’ve got an alkaline pH level. So what happens is that every time your leather comes into contact with those cleaning agents, a chemical reaction is sparking up while those acidic and alkaline properties try to neutralize each other. I’ll spell it out for you: your leather’s getting messed up.

    Keep an eye out for pH values when you disinfect leather. Apart from that, make sure that you always test whatever treatment on your leather before you apply it to the whole thing. Lastly, it helps if it’s made for leather specifically. Leather’s a pretty unique material when it comes to materials. A good principle to follow is that if you would hesitate to put it on your own skin, it’s probably not a good idea to put it on your leather. It was, after all, skin at one time.(...)’

     So that's all for today!

     There is a WORLD of types and brands of products to treat your leather bags, as there’s a wide variety of materials and types of leathers, so try to find what’s best for your bagEvery leather and bag is different so before venturing into using a new product, try it out in a tiny hidden spot!

     Also, don't get too crazy, start with the 1-3 that you used the most over the last 2 months. And another day go back to the rest! 

    But remember to follow up, so they'll be ready when you want to use them again!

     

    I hope you find it useful!

    What do you do to clean your bags?

     

    Love,

    Flor from Florecer

     


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