13 March 2020

Bag Care 101: A Dos and Don’ts Guide on Maintaining Your Bags and Keeping Them In Excellent Condition

A question I get asked a lot is “how do you keep your bags in such great condition even when they’re a few years old?” I have to admit, it’s especially quite difficult to do so in our tropical and humid weather where it’s basically different degrees of summer all year round. So I thought, why not put together this dont’s and dos guide and share this with all of you dear readers?

DON’Ts

Don’t Keep your bags in their boxes

I’m a fan of pretty packaging and I know most of you are too. They’re a treat to unbox, and a lot of the time, we feel as if we want to keep our bags stashed in the boxes they came in, all tied up with their pretty little bows and ribbons. BUT, as gorgeous as they may seem this way you should never store your bags in their boxes.  While you might think that you’re keeping them away from harm, accidents or scratches when stored this way, it’s actually bad for your bags, regardless whether they’re leather, canvas, or even suede and exotic skins. This is one of the most common ways in which bags are ruined – they get soiled, patent leather gets sticky or may even crack, and leather and exotic leathers can start to mould, peel or flake!  Just like you, your bags need to breathe! Keep them away from harm by only storing them in the dustbags that they came with, and this would suffice!

Don’t Wear Dark Coloured Clothing or Denim with Lighter Coloured Bags

One of the most common issues when it comes to bags, is colour transfer, particularly from denim. Nothing is worse than having a beautiful light or pastel coloured bag (or sometimes even light beige or tan!) with a huge dark patch on the back of it. Such an eyesore, and many times, depending on how bad the stain is, we often don’t feel like using the bag in question any more. To prevent such instances from occurring, avoid wearing jeans, denim, or any darker colours (regardless of material or fabric) with light coloured bags.

Don’t Use Chemicals on Your Bags

If you already have bags with stains, or colour transfer, do DO NOT be tempted to use chemicals, detergents, wet wipes containing fragrances or alcohol, or Bleach pens (Clorox or Tide pens, for example), or even water, powder, toothpaste or tea, to get rid of the stain. Instead, perhaps you can try this to lighten the stain .

Don’t Come Into Contact With Lotions or Fragrances

Like jewellery, leathers are delicate materials. Because of this, you should avoid any direct contact with lotions or fragrances. If you’re one who loves using lotions or spraying fragrances onto your skin, especially the wrist, then do that and let that be absorbed into your skin first, instead of immediately reaching for your bag, especially if you don’t want any discolouration, oil stains or patches to appear on your bag’s handle.

Don’t Get It Wet

Try not to let your bags come into contact with water. Depending on the leather or material as well as how badly your bad was soaked, the impact and hence the damage that water has on the bag, varies. The ways in which the leathers or fabrics have been treated during the production process, too, determine whether you’d get a water stain on your bag or not. For example, water may just slide off patent leather, while for some leathers, you may get some water stains. If you live in a tropical climate (or London!) where rain is common, you can always purchase raincoats for your bags these days (ranging from those you can purchase at 7-Eleven to luxe versions from Chanel). OR you can do what I usually do: keep a plastic bag / eco bag in your handbag at all times, and just whip it out when it rains and put your bag into it and tie the handles so water doesn’t get into or onto the bag –Easy peasy, plus you don’t need to spend any extra money! 😉

Don’t Use Artificial Heat

As a follow-up from the point above, DO NOT use any form of artificial heat (i.e. hairdryer, steamer, sunlight) to dry the bag if you had already gotten it wet. Just let it dry naturally, and make sure it’s completely dry before you put it away in the closet. If there are visible patches of water stains, you can try this

Balenciaga City Bag Illustration Bag Care Guide

DOs

Air Your Bags

Take all your bags out from your closet and remove them from their dustbags to air them out for about 1-2 days out once a month. If you don’t have time to take them out to air all at once, you could also just remove the bags from the dustbags, and keep the closet doors open, but make sure there is no direct sunlight facing the closet when you do this.

Stuff Your Bags

You need to Stuff your bags to maintain its original shape, because nothing looks worse (to me, at least) than a misshapen bag. For this, you can use air pillows, or acid-free paper, or the original stuffing that came with the bags (marked 1 or 2, respectively, in the illustration above). Personally, I prefer using air pillows, which you may purchase from any store that sells packaging materials. Please DO NOT crush newspaper and/or pages from a magazine because these are not recommended, due to the inks used to print onto them.

Store Bags In Their Original Dustbags

Always, ALWAYS, store the bags only in their original dustbags when you’re not using them. Remember, as mentioned above, don’t keep them in the boxes they came in!

Keep Bags Upright

Let your bags “stand” upright on the shelves or in the closet and leave some space between each bag so that do not touch. Don’t squish your bags together or stack them on top of one another in the closet because even though they’re properly stuffed and in their dustbags, you’ll most probably end up with “dented” or misshapen bags due to improper storage, and that would be a sight for sore eyes.

Use Silica Gel and Dehumidifiers

Place 2 silica gel sachets in each bag to ensure the absorption of any moisture due to humidity to keep your bag in perfect condition. Alternatively, you can place dehumidifiers (those that come in plastic containers with “beads” in them, for example, Thirsty Hippo, AirBoss, etc.) in your closet where your bags are kept, to absorb moisture. But, be very careful when using this, because the way this works is the beads lessen while liquid collects at the bottom half of the container. Please check the expiry date, as well as the level of the liquid from time to time, to make sure it doesn’t overflow. To be safe,  you could change it out every month, even though the liquid level hasn’t reached maximum capacity yet.

Use Alcohol- and Fragrance-Free Baby Wipes

Give your bags a wipe down from time to time to restore the leather’s original “shine”. To do this, it is important that you use alcohol- and fragrance-free baby wipes (baby wipes that are “gentle” or for “sensitive skin” won’t do!). Your bag may darken and become slightly matte, when you do this. Don’t panic – it’s okay! Just let it dry naturally, wipe it over with a new sheet of the same type of baby wipes again, and then use a microfibre cloth to wipe it down, and finally let it dry naturally once again. However, do note that this only applies to leatherDO NOT do this if your bag is made from exotic skins, suede, silk, satin, jacquard, or fabric.

Get Your Bag Water Repellent-Coated

If you’re really meticulous about how your bags should be, you can go the extra mile by taking them to official luxury specialist leather and bag care experts (e.g. Leather Kraft in 1Utama) to get them coated with protective layer that makes your bag water repellent. I’ve personally never done this, nor felt the need to, but for those of you who might want to do this, you can!

 

And so, there we have it! I hope you find these tips and tricks in this guide helpful!

 

Illustrations by @weimun_draws