Sunday, November 19, 2017

Leather Care Project: How do we take care of our bags?

Official cover photo of Leather Care Project
I buy a bag when there is something major to celebrate, which usually brings out the feeling of empowerment. In terms of frequency, I buy once a year only, so I do not end up with a lot of bags that I would not be able to use after a while.  I love bags.  They bring me joy, but owning too many bags at once is borderline clutter. 

I make an inventory of my bags twice a year.  This was also the time I would bring a bag to a bag spa for deep cleaning - one bag after the other.  After several years, I opened my own bag spa business - Leather Care Project. I never thought that my love for bags could become the start of an entrepreneurial journey - but this is one story all together.  

Again, bags.  I don't baby my bags.  I use them, and I use them well.  They are exposed to elements, including harmful germs.  Keep it a habit to clean and disinfect your bags the right way - this prolongs the useful life of your bags.  You and the people around you (especially at home) benefit from the practice of keeping harmful germs away from your precious bags.  

For bag collectors, or people who oftentimes receive bags as gift, bag rotation can be a challenge. The longer you keep the bags in storage, the more vulnerable they are to the unpleasant effects of humidity; molds and mildew included.  We live in a tropical country where humidity is almost always high. If the bags are stored, to the point they are not readily visible to you, you tend to forget about them until the next spring cleaning.  Post-spring cleaning, you just hope the defects you discovered can be fixed at a reasonable fee.  Here is a big realization for a bag hag like me: there comes a time when I need to let go of a bag.  Letting go means handing it over to my niece, or selling it in the pre-loved handbag market.  It is like giving the bag a second chance to become a source of joy, or you giving joy to another bag lover. When you let go of a bag or two, it also means making space for a new one.  Our choice of bag styles also changes over time. 

In simple terms, how do we take care of our bags?  

1.  Use your bags.  Use them well.  They will age well. 

2.  Air your bags regularly, but do not expose it to direct sunlight.  This is ideally done once a week, but our busy lives could probably allow once a month.    Good ventilation is healthy for your handbag.  

3.  Wipe your handbag clean with a soft cotton cloth.  An old cotton t-shirt can do the trick.  For suede, use a suede brush or soft-bristled toothbrush.   For fabric, a soft-bristled toothbrush or horse hairbrush can prevent dust from settling into the fibers.  
Leather Care Project uses all-natural horse hairbrush from Germany.
4.  Make sure that your bag is dry before you keep it in a dust bag.  This is to avoid (excessive) moisture build up while in storage.  Excessive moisture is a breeding place for molds or mildew.  Brush the lining using a soft brush to shake off dirt or dust.  

From Leather Care Project's file:  A fabric bag with (unwanted) mildew.  Mildew can be prevented.  Once mildew starts to spread on your bag, consult a handbag cleaning and restoration expert. 
From Leather Care Project's file:  The clean and disinfected version.  No more mildew and stains after deep cleaning. 
5.  Store your bag in a dust bag.  One bag is to one dust bag.  No dust bag, no problem.  A soft pillow case can work as an alternative. Avoid storing leather bags in plastic.  Leather is skin.  Skin must be able to breathe. 
Storage tip for hardware:  Wrap detachable hardware separately.  In case the hardware tarnishes overtime, its dark color will not transfer to the adjacent fabric or leather. 
6.  To maintain the shape of your bag, use a stuffer when storing.  DIY stuffer:  bundle clean, white bond papers; wrap in white Japanese paper. Tape the ends to hold the paper bundle in place.

7.  Avoid spilling solvent on your bag.  Solvent may cause the bag's color to bleed. 

8.  When leather becomes sticky, refer to Tip #2, and then store your bag in a cooler room.  Do not place it right next to other bags to avoid color transfer.  Observe. If stickiness persists, consult a handbag cleaning expert.  

9.  If you must purchase a cleaning or polishing product, it has to be intended for the type of materials of your bag (example:  smooth leather / patent (shiny layer) / suede or nubuck / fabric).  Read the label before purchasing.  

10.  If you must apply any product to your bag, do a spot test in a hidden section of the bag.  Check the material's reaction to the product before applying it to the entire bag. 

For more information about handbag cleaning and restoration, visit our Leather Care Project page in Facebook and Instagram (@leathercareproject).  


Leather Care Project offers professional cleaning and restoration services for your handbags and shoes.  We have thriving online presence through Facebook and Instagram, and our studio is located south of Manila.    We provide free online assessment through our Facebook page.  Handbag pick-up and delivery processes are done through 3rd party courier, or scheduled appointment in Makati, BGC, and MOA central business districts.  

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