1: Protect the material
Scotchgard Fabric will do the trick for fabric panels, while Scotchgard Suede and Nubuck is a great water and oil repellant for suede. Both Collonil and Chamberlain’s make great leather-protecting products. Apply product with a clean white cotton cloth, followed by a dry cotton cloth to buff. Use products regularly on heavily used bags. With any products, test a small patch on the bag to make sure it doesn’t cause discoloration.
2: Store properly
Do your bags get tossed onto a haphazard heap at the bottom of your closet? They’ll last longer if stored the right way, ideally in an upright position in their dust bags or a cotton pillowcase. Never store them in plastic or vinyl, which traps moisture inside. Stuff your bags with scarves, sweaters, or acid-free tissue paper, or use a handbag insert made for this purpose. Cross the handles over each other to avoid wear on the bag and un-clip any removable straps for long-term storage.
3: Remove stains promptly
Food stains: Crush white chalk and let it sit on the stain overnight. Brush off with a clean cloth in the morning.
Oil stains: Put cornstarch on the stain immediately, rubbing it in to create heat from friction, which will help the oil absorb. Brush the powder off with a clean cloth after you’ve rubbed it in—don’t let it sit on the stain.
Ink stains: If the stain is fresh, use a white eraser to immediately erase the spot, without applying too much pressure so that the color doesn’t come off. If the ink is already set, you’ll need a professional (see tip #7). An eraser also works for dirt stains.
Water stains: Blot water stains, let them dry naturally, and bring your bag to a professional for removal.
Odor removal: Keep a plastic bag filled with baking soda inside your handbag. Zip the handbag or place it in a larger bag that seals if it doesn’t zip. Keep the baking soda in the bag for one or two days to absorb the odor. Another option? Place a couple of dryer sheets in the bag for a few days.
4: Protect the lining
Use pouches to store cosmetics and liquids, which will protect the handbag lining from spills and keep you organized to boot. Avoid click pens at all cost, opting for pens with caps instead. Better yet, put those in your pouch too, in case of dreaded ink leaks.
5: Keep metal hardware shiny
Do your best to keep away jewelry and zippers that could scratch your bag’s metal hardware. A go-to household item, Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers, do a great job of cleaning up tarnished and grimy hardware.
6: Practice daily maintenance
1. Avoid handling your bag if your hands are dirty or have lotion or cream on them.
2. Keep your bag out of direct sunlight.
3. Rotate which handbag you carry regularly so that they don’t wear out too quickly.
4. Use a suede brush to clean and revive suede.
5. Regular use of a leather moisturizer will keep the leather supple and free of cracks.
6. Wipe your bag down on a weekly basis (when in use) with a soft cloth.
7: Visit a professional
If all else fails, take it to a specialist.