A few months ago, I helped a friend pick out her first premier designer handbag. After much debate, she ended up purchasing a beautiful Damier Azur Neverfull from Louis Vuitton. Despite being made of Louis Vuitton’s durable coated canvas material, the Damier Azur color is very light and subsequently more prone to wear and tear. My friend and I went to lunch a few weeks ago and she was excited to show me the bag. When I arrived, I was shocked to see she had her tennis shoes inside the bag against the cream lining…I’m talking sole of the shoe up rubbing right against the cotton lining. The sight of this obviously shocked my germaphobic tendencies, but the black scuffs from the sole of sneakers that have touched the streets of DC on the cream lining shocked me more.
I realized at that moment that even though I don’t go to great lengths to baby my bags, I do make a conscious effort to take as best care of them as possible. When I buy a bag, whether it be brand new or pre-loved, I want it to stay in excellent condition. I have some tips and tricks I use to keep my bags as clean and well maintained as possible and I hope you will find them helpful too!
Purses Do Not Belong on the Floor
I never let my bag touch the ground. Not only is this a best practice from a hygiene perspective, but it also keeps the corners of my bag nice and clean. For me personally, my ultimate handbag pet peeve is worn corners. I simply cannot wear a bag with worn corners—it ruins the entire look and feel of wearing a bag for me. I carry a bag hook with me at all times, but if I’m really in a pinch, I will rest the bag on top of my thighs while sitting down.
I regularly clean and condition my leather bags. I have been using Apple Brand Garde for years after learning about it on the PurseForum back in the OG days. I swear by this stuff, it keeps my leather bags in their best possible condition. Always spot test the bottom of your bag before going to town and applying everywhere, but I have to say, I haven’t had any issues with application. Each of my bags has reacted well to this product.
The interior lining of my bags is my downfall in handbag maintenance. I am always finding random crumbs, dust, or marks inside of my bags. I try to be more mindful and keep my items in pouches, but inevitably, the inside of my bags aren’t perfect. The rose ballerine lining of my Louis Vuitton bags are particularly difficult to keep clean, but I have tried to clean marks when I find them. I haven’t discovered a miracle product (if you know of one, please let me know), but I use dawn dish soap and a child’s toothbrush. This method certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but it has worked well for me. I put a teeny tiny drop of dish soap on a damp children’s toothbrush head and scrub very lightly over stains. Thus far, this method has successfully removed stains for me, so I will continue doing it. I’m sure something more official exists on the market, but this at-home hack has worked for me over the last decade.
Use a Barrier
If I have to put an item that could potentially damage or be unhygienic inside of my bag, I always put a barrier between the item and the interior lining. Whether it be food, liquids, or even shoes like I mentioned above, I always put them inside of a washable canvas tote before putting that item inside of my bag. I used to use plastic bags, but I have been trying to eliminate my use of plastic as much as possible and the canvas tote has worked well for me. Again, I try to avoid putting anything potentially damaging inside of my luxury bags, but sometimes it’s inevitable.
Hanging is a No-No
I never hang my bags by their handles, especially when they’re full. I remember a thread on the PurseForum from years ago on how to “break in” a stiff leather Rebecca Minkoff bag. The suggestion was to stuff the bag with heavy items and then let it hang on a doorknob overnight. I tried this method on my first Morning After Bag, and it worked! However, I got into the habit of hanging my bags, and it really stretched out some of my handles and warped the shape of some of my bags. I’ve stopped hanging my bags as a result, although I think a crossbody would probably be fine, but I still keep all my bags in their dustbags just in case.
I try to be diligent about keeping my bags stuffed with tissue paper and in their dustbags. I have tried many ways of storing my bags, but my most recent method has been the most effective. I bought some cubbies off amazon for my closet to store my bags in, which gives me easier access to my bags than keeping them in the boxes they came in. The cubbies I bought are plastic panels put together into the shape of a cube shelf, but I bought this product knowing I was moving in the near future. Once I settle into my new house, I plan to buy something a little more substantial. The cubes I bought were a pain to assemble, but once I got them locked in, they got the job done. Each of my bags has its own cube and I store them in their dustbag. I still like to display the boxes my bags came in, so I put the boxes on the upper shelves of my closet as a decoration. At 5’3 I can’t store anything up there anyway, so the boxes are a cute use of space that would otherwise go unused.
Another way to protect your bag is by spraying it with a waterproof spray. Admittedly I have not done this since 2011, but it is certainly is an added way to protect your handbag from bad weather. You could also get a handbag umbrella if you are more dedicated than I am from protecting your bag from water. As always, you should spot check before spraying your bag with any sort of treatment.
Do you have any tips for handbag maintenance? I’d love to hear what you do to keep your bags in their best condition.