Enhancing the longevity of your leather bags
Genuine leather products are not cheap. Yes, you can buy a generic or a low-quality product and you will save a buck or two, but in the long run, you will need to replace it repeatedly. So, spend the money and get something which is worth taking care of and having for years to come. Once you have acquired a quality leather bag, you will need to know how to properly care for it to enhance its longevity. And while there are numerous sites which will say apply this spray or just wipe the surface with this miracle cloth, the truth is that if you want your handbag to work for you, you need to put in a bit of work yourself. Don’t worry, it is nothing hard. Here is what you need to do.
First, remove everything from the bag – This may sound like a bit of a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people I have seen with books and tablets, and what-not within their bag as they try to buff an area clean. Remove all the contents from the bag, ensure that you can lay the bag upon a flat surface, and then start the cleaning process.
Use a soft wet rag to remove basic dirt – Against popular belief, you can use a minimum amount of water on the surface of leather. It is hide after all, and I am quite sure that during the duration of whatever animal it came from, that the animal was subjected to rain. What you do not want to do is soak a rag and drench your leather bag with water as one would drench a mop to clean the floor. Gently use your soft rag to remove the basic dust, dirt, and debris from the surface. If you are uncomfortable using a regular soft rag, get a leather cleaning rag. Once you have done the preliminary cleaning, dry the surface of your handbag.
Apply leather cleaner – Cleaner is not polish. Do not get the two confused. Where polish can be added at the end of the process to bring out the color, it should not be considered an alternative to cleaner. Think of it this way, if I have a cut and I just keep slapping on band aids, am I really treating the wound or just covering it up? Cleaner, gets down into the pores of the leather and removes and revitalizes the leather of the handbag. For most cleaners, you will need to apply the substance to the surface by either a spray (in which case you should keep the spray thin and consistently applied) or through direct application with a rag (in which case small circular application in a consistent manner should be practiced).
When applying cleaner, you may notice that your leather handbag takes on a dimmer appearance. This is normal. You will need to re-buff the surface after you add conditioner.
Conditioners and Polish – Personally, I am a bit against polishes as they (in my opinion) diminish the natural look of the leather. Using a conditioner has the same effect but brings out the natural color of the leather. To apply leather conditioner to your handbag, follow the same steps which you would follow for leather cleaner. However, instead of buffing off the leather conditioner, leave it on the surface of your handbag. Check the specific directions of your conditioner as each is different.
Don’t forget the buckles – One of the areas which is typically overlooked in cleaning a leather handbag are the clasps and the buckles which go alongside the leather. While cleaning the leather of the handbag is important, it is only half of the job. Get a bottle of brasso or the equivalent and a rag and very carefully clean the brass fittings of the bag. Take careful consideration not to get chemicals on the leather. It is advised that if you can, remove the buckles and clamps from the leather product completely, clean them, let them dry, and then put them back onto the bag. If you cannot remove the buckles and clamps, put a rag over the leather to minimize damage to the surface from any brass cleaners.
Clean the inside – Yes, the exterior of your handbag is what everyone will see, but just like people, the inside counts as well. If the interior of the bag is never cleaned and no leather conditioner is added to it, eventually the surface will crack and fade. Take the time to clean the entire surface of the handbag, both interior and exterior. Should you have a bag which is composed of various materials (such as brass fittings, a silk interior, and leather) you may want to opt for a professional cleaning from your local leather artisan.