Durable, upscale, and beautiful, leather makes an ideal option for your handbags. Beyond the beauty, one of the major benefits of leather handbags is the durability.

Even though leather is a lasting, natural material, it can still get damaged if you don’t take care of it properly. Learning how to care for leather the right way can help your handbag maintain its looks and last longer.

Keep reading to learn about leather maintenance.

Use With Care

From a casual leather backpack purse to dressier leather shoulder bags, leather handbags let you show your style and can work for almost any occasion. But they also require careful use each time you throw one over your shoulder.

For starters, be careful about how much you put in your leather bag. Since it’s a natural material made from animal skin, leather will stretch. If you shove too much in your purse, it might become stretched or misshapen.

Leather can also scratch, so watch what comes into contact with it. Large, sharp jewelry can damage the leather. Avoid putting it down on surfaces that could scratch it while you’re out.

Grease and oils from your hands can affect the leather. Avoid touching your purse right after putting on lotion or similar beauty products, which can get on the leather.

Wipe It Regularly

Doing a quick, light cleaning every other day on leather purses you use daily helps remove potentially damaging substances off the bag. Dust, natural oil from your skin, and greasy residue from things such as lotion can quickly discolor or damage your handbag. Always wash your hands before you clean it to avoid getting more residue on the bag.

Keep a soft cloth on hand to quickly wipe your purse. You can slightly dampen the cloth, but you don’t want to use too much water. Leather absorbs water and can take a long time to dry.

Deep Clean Occasionally

At least once per year, you’ll want to do a deep clean on your leather handbag. Choose a leather cleaner for the best results. Other cleaners can clog the pores of the leather, and cleaners with alcohol can dry out or discolor the material.

Always follow the package instructions on the leather cleaning product. It’s usually best to use a circular motion when applying leather cleaner. Wipe it off with a damp cloth after cleaning.

Condition the Leather

The soft, supple texture makes leather a favorite material for handbags. Leather conditioner can help moisturize the leather and keep it supple, similar to the natural oils in the leather. If you don’t moisturize your leather handbag, the material might dry out and crack.

Rub the leather conditioner over the bag in a circular pattern using a cloth. The conditioner should absorb completely into the leather. Let it dry naturally for at least 24 hours before wiping off any residue from the leather conditioner.

Using leather conditioner twice per year should be enough to keep your leather handbag moisturized. If you live in an especially dry climate, you might need to condition your purse more often.

Avoid Moisture

While you don’t want the leather to dry out, too much moisture can affect the texture and appearance of your leather handbag. Leather can resist a little moisture, but it’s a porous material, which means lots of water can soak into it.

Wet leather will dry out eventually, although it can take a while. However, it’s often stiff or hard once it dries compared to what it was originally. You can waterproof your leather bag to give it extra resistance to moisture.

If there’s rain in the forecast, choose a different bag or use an umbrella and keep your bag protected from the rain. Place your handbag carefully if you’re out for drinks to avoid spills on the leather.

If your handbag gets wet, blot off as much of the liquid as possible. Then let it dry naturally. If you use a hair dryer or another heat source, it can dry and crack the leather.

Keep Out of Sunlight

Natural light can fade your favorite leather handbag. If you keep your handbag by the front door, make sure you have a spot that’s out of sun. Pay attention to where you have your handbag throughout the day, whether it’s in the car, at a restaurant, or near your desk at work, making sure it’s not in sunlight.

Store Leather Handbags Properly

Before you store your leather handbag, make sure it’s clean and completely dry. Dampness or residue can cause problems while the purse is in storage.

Fill the inside of the bag with bubble wrap, parchment paper, or other acid-free papers to help it keep the shape while in storage. Avoid using newspaper inside the bag as the ink could leave marks on the purse.

Putting your leather handbag in a dust bag helps to prevent scratches while it’s in storage. If your handbag doesn’t come with a dust bag or you didn’t keep it, you can buy a new one to use if you plan to store your bag a lot. Choose a dust bag that’s large enough to easily accommodate your bag without squishing it.

Plastic bags aren’t a good idea for storing leather bags. The plastic doesn’t allow for the ventilation that leather needs.

If you’re leaving your handbag in storage for an extended time, wrap some tissue paper around any hardware so it doesn’t cause an imprint in the leather.

Choose the storage location strategically in an area that doesn’t have a lot of humidity. You don’t want it near sunlight because of fading. Heat sources, such as heat vents in your home, can dry out the leather and cause cracking in your handbag.

Placing the bag in an upright position is the best method of storage. If you hang it, the handles could get stretched, especially if it’s in storage for a long time.

If you store your leather handbags for long periods of time, take them out periodically to air them out.

Learn How to Care for Leather

Figuring out how to care for leather properly can make your handbags last longer and look beautiful. With regular maintenance and proper storage, you can show off your style beautifully.

Find more fashion advice in our archives.

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