Designer handbags (and diamonds, of course) are a girl’s best friend!
The creators of the world’s most fashionable handbags, those at the very apex of luxury, have crafted them with the greatest care, using only the best quality material. Once they pass into your hands (even if they’re pre-loved), it becomes your responsibility to treat them as the icons they are. And we want to share some cleaning tips for designer purses!
When other run-of-the-mill handbags that form part of your ‘disposable fashion’ wardrobe start to lose their luster, you simply replace them. Not so with your exquisite luxury leather arm candy!
Although leather is known to be versatile and durable, it benefits significantly from the proper treatment, and treating your luxury handbag with care will lengthen the product’s life.
In this blog, we’ll share the ins and outs of caring for one of your best investments – your ultimate fashion statement. Learn the how-to on cleaning your designer purse and keeping it in tip-top condition. We suggest which cleaning supplies and tools you’ll need, and we’ll look at the process of cleaning it inside and out.
Get to know your handbag.
Start by getting to know your handbag. This will enable you to purchase suitable cleaning materials for the treatment your clutch or shoulder bag deserves.
For instance, consider the five types of leather. (This has nothing to do with the kind of animal hide but rather the grade or treatment.) You get full-grain, top-grain, corrected/genuine, bonded, and faux leather.
It is crucial to choose the right cleaning products to maintain the integrity of your handbag.
In short, here’s why you should first know what your bag is made of:
- If you know what type of leather you are working with, you can decide what the appropriate products to use are. This is the only way your handbag will be adequately cleaned, conditioned, and protected – preserving its value and appearance. (Most of our pre-loved handbags on the Sehabags site are in the top range of leather luxury.)
- Harsh chemicals or abrasive materials can strip away the natural oils of your bag and lead to fading, an unwelcome change in color, or cracking.
- Applying the proper stain removers will effectively address the problem area without harming the leather.
Cleaning supplies and tools for your luxury designer handbag.
It is important to note that handbags like Dior, Prada, or Gucci often consist of various material types and sometimes even different kinds of leather. The hardware, the metal parts of the sling or zipper, will need a different approach, while the interior of the bags is also handled differently than the exterior.
We’ve collated this comprehensive list of cleaning supplies and tools that will enable you to treat your bag with the expertise it deserves. We recommend that you choose high-quality products – it’s worth it!
For the exterior of your luxury handbag:
- Mild leather cleaner: Make sure you purchase a high-end leather cleaner specially designed for your type of leather. Carefully follow the packaging instructions.
- Soft microfiber cloths: For the gentle removal of dust and for applying leather cleaner.
- Leather conditioner: Leather needs a moisturizer just as much as you do to restore suppleness and prevent cracking or a faded, dry appearance.
- Saddle soap: This gentle product cleans, conditions, and protects leather. It often contains mild soap, softening ingredients like lanolin, and preservatives like beeswax. Use it sparingly.
- Lint-free cloth: Use it to apply your leather conditioner or to shine metal parts.
- Stain remover (only if necessary): Look for specialized products specifically designed to treat the type of stain (ink, oil, etc.).
- Soft bristle brush: To gently brush light stains or dirt from suede or textured leather.
- Protective cream/weatherproofing product: Water is not a leather bag’s best friend. Make sure to choose the right product for your type of leather.
Remember, it is essential to avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can cause damage to the leather of your pre-loved luxury bag.
For the interior of your bag:
- A soft brush or lint roller and gentle fabric cleaner: To remove dust and dirt particles from the lining of your handbag.
- Fabric protective spray: Why not be proactive? Safeguard your lining against permanent staining.
- Vacuum cleaner with nozzle attachment: Eliminate heavy scrubbing or brushing.
- Cotton swabs: For precision application of stain remover or cleaning products.
- Plastic bags or dust bags: Store your handbag securely when not in use. When you buy a pre-loved bag from us, it will come with its own dust bag for storage.
Let’s start! Cleaning the inside of your designer purse.
The inside-out approach.
Take a moment and imagine all the items that find their way into the depths of your handbag – keys, tissues, snacks, lipstick, loose change, and a ton of other essential (or not so essential) everyday bits and bobs. (They say one can tell a lot about the items in a women’s handbag …)
Most of those things carry some traces of dirt or can spill and cause stains or bring with them some of life’s messiness. So, start cleaning the inside of your handbag. You’ll find it rewarding!
Here’s what to do:
- Remove everything.
- Flip the bag upside down and shake gently to dislodge all debris.
- Turn the liner inside out (if possible) and remove dust with a lint roller.
- Use your hand-held vacuum with the nozzle attachment for a more in-depth cleaning.
If your bag doesn’t have a liner or a liner that cannot be turned inside out or is made of leather, use a lint roller, tweezers, and your nozzle-fitted vacuum to clean right into the corners.
Identify the type of material in your inner bag: think suede, fabric, leather, or synthetic – this will help determine your approach.
(We suggest you do a spot test on a small, inconspicuous area before applying your chosen cleaning solution to ensure there is no damage or significant color change to the inside of your bag.)
I see stains. What now?
You know the culprits: a leaky ink pen, makeup escaping from containers, food, or liquid spills. Once you’ve closely inspected the lining and identified the type of stain, you can tackle it correctly. Here is how you treat the most prevalent stains:
- Ink: Gently dab (do not scrub) the stain with a clean cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol, and then blot the area with a dry cloth to remove the ink. Repeat if necessary.
- Makeup: A gentle solution of mild soap (i.e., saddle soap) and warm water should do the trick for foundation or lipstick.
- Food: This may vary, but start with mild soap and warm water; dab and work from the outside of the stain to the inside to prevent spreading. Rinse with a damp cloth to remove excess soap and blot dry.
- Water: Remove watermarks on leather by gently dampening the surface to clean it and then allow it to air dry. Apply your leather conditioner to restore that sheen.
Of course, the earlier you treat stains, the better results you can expect.
Designer purse exterior cleaning.
For that rich gleam.
Naturally, your Prada, Dior or Gucci bag will collect dirt and dust, even when handled with extreme care.
However, regular cleaning will avoid the buildup of residue that will later be hard to remove. Much of the skill in cleaning your high-end handbag lies in identifying the material from which it is made.
- Leather: use fragrance-free, alcohol-free wipes to avoid the leather drying out, or spray leather cleaner onto a microfiber cloth and wipe. Then, apply a leather conditioner to moisturize.
- Fabric such as canvas, tweed, jersey, or satin should be cleaned using a lint roller. For blemishes that need extra attention, lightly spray a wipe with a product like OxiClean to lift the stain. But remember, only use Oxiclean on black satin, silk, or jersey to avoid cleaner stains.
- For fur or suede, it is wise to buy a specialty brush to remove dirt. Gently buff for the best results. Gently brush in one direction. Use suede conditioner to revitalize.
Don’t forget those shiny bits.
Due to being handled often, your bag’s hardware needs special attention more often.
- Metal hardware: To keep the bling accents like buckles and logos shiny, use a baby wipe and then dry with a soft cloth. If you spot areas that are tarnished or oxidized, use a tiny amount of brass shining liquid and a cotton swab to polish it to its original luster. Dior bags especially need special care in this regard.
- Zippers and snaps: A soft toothbrush or cotton swab dipped in a mild, soapy solution can be used to clean your bag effectively. Make sure to wipe dry after cleaning.
Tips for preventing color transfer.
Leather is a natural material, and one may experience color transfer, either from boldly colored clothing rubbing against your bag or during the cleaning process. In the case of keeping your leather handbag pristine, prevention is better than cure.
What to use or to avoid:
- Do not let your leather get too wet during the cleaning process.
- Apply a high-quality leather conditioner.
- Use a good protective spray or waterproofing agent.
- Try to remove stains as soon as they happen – you will not have to resort to harsh cleaning methods.
- Never use ammonia-based cleaners.
‘How often should I clean my luxury handbag?’
Your cleaning schedule will depend on the frequency of usage.
If you use your bag daily, we recommend cleaning it every week. If the bag is for special occasions, two to four cleanings per year should suffice.
Note that your bag’s handles, base, and corners are exposed to most wear and tear and require more frequent attention. Consider wiping these elements after every use.
Let the professionals handle it.
If you feel uncertain about trying to clean your own bag or when you have a stubborn stain, reach out to the experts. They have tried and tested methods of treating stains and the right tools on hand for different kinds of bags and materials. You can’t beat experience!
The bag experts suggest you treat your luxury high-end bags to a ‘spa day’ once a year. Take them to a professional (and passionate) leather cleaner for a thorough cleanse.
Keep in mind that some handbags might need specialized care and repair. Do a bit of research about your specific bag to ascertain the best way of caring for it.
This Prada Galleria Saffiano Prada luxury handbag was taken to the experts with a scuffed corner. The white bag also lost its pristine color. The technicians were able to restore it back to its former glory with specialized color touch-up treatment.
Storing your handbag.
Proper storage could prevent future interior issues and will preserve the overall structure and condition of your designer bag. Here’s what the experts say:
- Store your handbag in a dust bag, shielding your bag from light exposure and dust. If you bought your bag from us at SehaBags, it would have come with its own protective dust bag.
- Do not store your bag in a plastic container, which can trap moisture, but rather in a breathable encasing.
- Keep your bag in a cool, dry place – your leather purse is susceptible to heat and moisture damage.
Maintaining the shape of your bag.
Do not hang your bag by its straps – this can cause stretching or a warped shape. Instead, place the bag on a flat surface.
Use stuffing material to retain the shape. Here are a few tips:
- Empty out all items and stuff the inside of your bag with materials safe to use to help keep its shape. Do not use plastic bubble wrap, as this can trap moisture inside.
- Refrain from overstuffing and stretching your handbag.
- Materials that are safe to use:
- Acid-free tissue paper
- Soft white towels
- Packing paper
- Fabric pieces (make sure they don’t have prints that can bleed)
- A custom purse pillow (It is a tad more expensive, but doesn’t your collector-item handbag deserve it?)
It’s a wrap!
Owning a Dior, Prada, YSL, Louis Vuitton, Loro Piana, or Gucci bag is like having a stylish companion that never goes out of fashion and always makes you look good.
But here’s the catchy part: to keep your luxurious pals looking fabulous for years, all they need is a little regular cleaning and comfy storage.
Give them the royal treatment, and they’ll keep delighting you!