Caring for Handbags

Guides & Tips

Helpful Hints on How to Properly Care for a Favorite Handbag

Long ago, the basket was the carrier of choice used by women for hauling items from one place to another, and today, the handbag has usurped that role. The handbag provides the user with a space in which to safely and easily store all items needed for the day whether they be a sandwich for lunch, a book, a mobile phone, or a jar of hand cream. In light of the essential role handbags play in everyday life, it is important to take the time to properly care for them. Much like the specific care instructions involved in cleaning a luscious cashmere sweater, the owner of a handbag must take the appropriate steps in order to maintain that handbag's quality.

Handbags are a utilitarian fashion statement, and to maintain such a fashion accessory in top quality, it is key to understand a handbag's materials. Handbags come in a wide variety of materials, and each material requires a different set of care instructions. For leather handbags, first remove dust by using a soft-bristle brush. Next, apply a leather treatment cream to the handbag's surface. It is quite amazing how this cream can reawaken the shine and quality in a worn leather bag. Remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions when applying the leather treatment cream. A snakeskin handbag does require some light dusting, especially due to its unique texture. However, if more than dusting is necessary, it is recommended to bring the bag to a professional handbag cleaner. Due to its high gloss finish, patent leather handbags are notorious for losing their shiny quality and accruing quite a large number of scuff marks if not given the proper care. Patent leather should not be treated with a leather cream. Instead, it is encouraged to use vegetable oil and a soft, cotton cloth to restore that typical high gloss and to remove scuff marks. Petroleum jelly is another household product that can be useful when trying to restore shine to a patent leather handbag. Suede, just like patent leather, should never be cleaned with a leather treatment cream. To properly clean a suede handbag, a velvet brush is a useful tool as it does not damage the finish. For cloth handbags made of canvas, denim, cotton, or a synthetic fabric, dry cleaning is an option. However, cloth handbags can also be cleaned using a damp cotton cloth and mild soap. However, it is still encouraged that, prior to cleaning a large section of a cloth handbag, that a test area is exposed to the damp cloth and soap. If the test area dries normally, clean the bag and remember to air dry it completely before storing or using it again.

A smart preventative measure a handbag owner can undertake when first acquiring a handbag is to protect the bag's surface by using a product like Scotchgard. This product, and ones like it, provides a layer of water repelling protection on the surface of your handbag, which in turn aids in repelling stains. However, some handbags may not be able to be treated with this type of solution, so take a moment to read the bottle's label. Also, as mentioned earlier, finding a spot for a test area on the handbag is a smart way to ensure that the treatment is safe for a handbag.

Though more specific handbag cleaning instructions have already been outlined above, there are some general tips that help in the upkeep of handbags. For dusting, a soft, cotton cloth should be used. If stain removal is necessary, use a damp cloth first on a test area, and if section dries normally, then apply the cloth to the stained area of the handbag. In general, handbag maintenance is foolproof as long as common sense, like using a test area on the bag, is used in weighing decisions.

Continuing in the vein of common sense decision-making, there are certain measures that can be taken to avoid unnecessary staining of handbags. Clean hands make for a clean handbag, and this means no picking up a suede leather handbag after applying a thick hand cream. What is good for your hands is not always good for a suede handbag. Weather conditions do play a factor in maintaining the overall quality of a handbag. If in the morning there is a loud pattering of rain on the window and fat drops hitting the pavement, it is certainly a smart idea to chose against using an expensive leather handbag. Instead, use an older handbag of lesser quality. It might even be worth it, especially when living in a rainy locale, to invest in a waterproof fabric handbag. Furthermore, be mindful of where to set down a handbag when in a public place. The floor of one's bathroom at home may be trustworthy, but a huge amount of faith should be not placed in the cleanliness of a public restroom's floor. Therefore, do not place a handbag on a public restroom's floor, and upon returning home, on the kitchen counter top. This is quite an unsanitary practice, and should be avoided at all costs. This same measure of caution should be taken when in a restaurant, a theater, a sports stadium, and other public areas where it might be tempting to place a handbag on the floor.

Storage of handbags is key to their upkeep, since materials can become damaged and overall shape can be lost if not properly stored. Whenever storing bags, whether on a shelf or in a drawer, it is necessary to stuff the bag with paper or bubble wrap. Filling the bag is important because it helps the bag retain its original shape. Dust is another issue that must be taken under consideration when storing handbags. To prevent excessive buildup of dust, use a protective bag, which may have come with the handbag at the time of purchase. If such a bag cannot be acquired, a cotton pillowcase is a suitable substitute. If planning to store a handbag for several months, it is a good idea to store straps and handles separately if possible, with buckles loosened to prevent unsightly indentations.

Owning and caring for a handbag does not come with a self-clean function, so keep in mind that it does require some effort. However, if the time and effort is put into proper maintenance and care of a handbag, it will certainly show in how many years of use one can get from a prized handbag.

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