How to clean and care for your leather handbag

Tips to make it last forever

handbag care tips

Tips to make it last forever

We all know investing in a designer handbag can be a great investment, especially as its value will most certainly have increased by the time you resell it.

However, how you care for it will impact its value, as if it shows too many signs of wear and tear, people won’t be willing to pay as much for it.

So we thought we’d ask the Handbag Clinic at Harvey Nichols Knightbridge, for their top tips on how to care for your leather handbag.

Oh, and these are obviously really handy if you simply want to keep your bag as pristine as possible forever, even if you you don’t want to sell it!

1. Protect your handbag from day one

Whenever we buy something new, we always want to keep it in perfect condition and the best place to start is with prevention. We recommend using leather protection cream as soon as you take it home. It adds a protective barrier to leather that repels stains and protects the surface from wear and tear.

2. Clean your bag regularly

Whether it’s new or old, as well as protecting your bag, regular cleaning is a must. For a quick wipe-down, a damp cloth is enough, but typically bags will need a more thorough clean by a professional or using specialist cleaning product every 2-3 months to keep them in top condition.

3. Only use specialist leather cleaners

Never use baby wipes, vinegar or any other 'home remedy' for cleaning. Many of these products have chemicals and substances in them that can cause drying or colour loss.

4. Keep your bag in a dust bag when not in use

If your handbag came with a dust bag, use it! This will prevent the build-up of dust when it’s not in use and prevent any accidental scuffs. If you don’t have a dust bag, use a pillowcase.

5. Keep your bag stuffed

When not in use, stuff your bag with bubble wrap or even some old clothing to help keep its shape.

6. Avoid holding the handles too much

Admittedly, this is a bit of an odd one but natural oils from the skin or oils from moisturisers can damage the leather and cause it to discolour! Protecting your leather will help, but try holding your bag over your arm.

7. Avoid wearing a light coloured bag with new denim jeans

Dye transfer is one of the toughest stains to remove and something we deal with daily. One of the most common causes is wearing new denim jeans with a light coloured handbag. Avoid dye transfer by (you guessed it!) protecting your bag and washing new jeans before wearing them.

8. Make sure the lid’s on!

Leaking pens, water bottles and even foundation not only ruin your day but can ruin your bag too! (You would not believe the amount of horror stories we have heard) When we’re in a rush, we’re all guilty of throwing everything in our bag and not checking if they’re sealed properly. Take time to put pens in a pencil case, your make-up in a bag and check your water bottle!

9. Be careful where you place your bag

At home, in the car, at work… Where do you keep your bag when it’s not in use? To prevent colour fading and damage to the leather, try to avoid heaters and direct sunlight. Heat can cause the leather to dry, resulting in cracking. The best way to prevent drying is by cleaning and protecting your bag every 2-3 month. Leather protection cream not only protects your bag from stains but will condition the leather too.

10. Use a handbag hook

When dining out, a typical clutch tends to be the right size to place behind you in your chair at the small of your back. Alternatively, you could use a handbag hook - aimed to keep your bag safe from wet tables and grubby floors!

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.