Fashion

Your Complete Guide to Taking Care of All Kinds of Leather Accessories

Using your leather bags often makes a huge difference.
IMAGE HERMES, CHANEL, GUCCI, BURBERRY, TOD'S
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We may be hesitant to admit it, but aren’t we all a bit emotionally attached to our accessories? Who hasn’t lusted over a handbag or gone googly eyed over a pair of sexy strappy heels? They’re our guilty little pleasures, our splurges, our babies even. And given the works of art that they are, it’s understandable that the better ones oftentimes come with a heftier price tag. The good thing is that leather accessories are meant to last quite a long time when given proper care. So, if you are looking to give your shoe and bag collection some TLC, then this haute how-to that covers everything from day-to-day care to solving fashion emergencies has got your covered.


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Prevention is Always Better Than Cure

The old adage applies to leather bags and shoes as well. It may seem tedious at first, but putting time and effort into the upkeep of one’s accessories ensures they remain in pristine condition. And if you view your bags as investments, keeping them beautiful allows you to pass them on to the next generation, who will hopefully treasure them as much as you have. 

1. DO protect your bag with a reputable cream or treatment.

“This should be done from day one and applied every two to three months, according to Jordan Smith of the Handbag Clinic. It keeps the leather supple and prevents it from cracking. Naturally, test any product on an inconspicuous area first before using it.

2. DO wipe bags with a soft cloth or brush.

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For soft leathers, remove superficial dirt with a damp cloth regularly, then properly air dry.

3. DON’T overstuff your bags.

We know it’s tempting, but remember that leather stretches, so carrying too many things could deform the bag and strain the handles. Some even recommend that bags should be emptied out every evening, and then filled with stuffing to maintain their silhouette.

4. DO use your bags often.

Pretty things aren’t meant to be stashed away, plus leather benefits from being out in the open. If you aren’t able to use them, then air them out to avoid unwanted smells, cracking, or mold. 

5. DON’T carry your bags if you have lotion on your hands.

Or alternatively, wrap handles with a pretty scarf to keep them from getting dark. But do remove these handle wraps after use to air out the leather.

6. DO place your beauty products in separate pouches.

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Cosmetics and creams can cause discoloration, while sharp items can scratch and snag, so it’s best to keep them ensconced properly so as not to damage the lining of your bag.

7. DO rotate your bags and shoes.

Give your leather products room to breathe, and this especially applies to your shoes. Granting your accessories some me-time in between use will allow them to last longer as well.

8. DO avoid dark clothes when using light-colored leather bags.

Leather is porous and lighter colored variants are susceptible to stains, especially from dark hued denim. 

9. DO gently clean the lining of your purses.

If you can, gently pull the interior out and swipe it with a lint roller.

10. DO keep zippers running smoothly.

Mallard adds that a small amount of natural beeswax along the teeth of your zipper helps maintain the fastener’s grip.

Store Them in Style

Storage Musts 

We should be just as careful in stashing our accessories as in using them. Off the bat, they should be kept properly in a clean environment with proper air ventilation and away from heat and moisture. Since we live in a tropical country, special attention should be paid to address the humidity as well, which can cause the leather to rot.


1. DO store your leather bags and shoes with paper stuffing to maintain their shape.

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One can use acid-free tissue paper, or even invest in specially shaped bag pillows. Shoes should be stored with tissue, or leather trees when applicable.

2. DO keep bags and shoes safely inside dust bags.

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The ones they came in are perfect, but if they’ve been misplaced, white cotton pillowcases will suffice. Avoid plastic, as these will suffocate the leather.

3. DO avoid direct sunlight and other sources of heat.

Exposure to sunlight can cause the color to fade, while heat can dry out your leather bag or shoe. For sensitive exotic skins, even artificial light can cause discoloration.

4. DO store them on open shelves.

A clean, dry environment works wonders for most things. For bags, it's best to store them on their bases with ample space for the handles, to keep them from being misshapen. 

5. DO avoid full glass storage.

Justine De Leon and Joanna Magbanua of Sac Pristine Luxury Bag Care warn us that these glass cabinets have poor to no air circulation. If you can’t avoid it, use an electric dehumidifier but don’t place it too near the accessories either. 

Special Care for Patent, Suede, and Exotics


When it comes to specialty leathers like patent, suede, or exotic skins, it pays to take extra care and to understand their unique qualities. Patent, which has a high gloss finish due to a polyurethane or acrylic coating, is resistant to water but is prone to stains. Exotic skins, which are valued for their beautiful textures, are extremely delicate. The same goes for suede, which tends to get dirty easily and doesn’t fare very well with water. But not to shy away from a challenge, the right care can ensure these high maintenance beauties remain absolutely gorgeous.

How to Take Care of Patent Leather 

1. DO store patent leather in dust bags.

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This is to avoid moisture and sunlight, as well as other dark colored bags that could stain them. Also, patent leather tends to stick to other patent leather items, so be sure to store them separately.

2. DO keep patent leather shiny.


If your patent accessories are looking dull, a simple wipe with a damp cloth may be all they need to remove dust and dirt buildup.

3. DO address scuffs and stains with simple household items.

Justine de Leon of Sac Pristine recommends trying to remove the stain with petroleum jelly first. If that doesn’t work, try 70 percent isopropyl alcohol (without moisturizer) or nail polish remover with acetone. Of course, patch test first.

How to Take Care of Exotic Skins

1. DO avoid exposure to any oils.

“Lizard, python, and ostrich leather are very absorbent, such that exposure to water, oil or perfume can leave a mark that can hardly be removed,” Magbanua warns.

2. DO use treatments specially made for these exotic skins.


“There are different types of leather cleaners and conditioners for exotics, and [these] should be conditioned at least once a week if in use”, recommends de Leon.

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3. DO clean leathers along the grain.

When spiffing up your snakeskin, lizard, or buffalo hide accessories, always wipe following the grain so as not to damage the skin with unnecessary friction.

How to Take Care of Suede


1. DO use a suede brush to remove dust and stains.

But suede is finicky, so leave the tougher blemishes to the professionals.

2. DO try to avoid water.

Suede is especially susceptible to water stains, so if it gets wet, blot off the moisture immediately.

Leather Bag and Shoes First Aid

While you try your best to be careful, sometimes, disasters arise. Plus, you don’t want to be the lady who clings tight to her designer handbag all night for fear something may splash onto it. So when the inevitable happens, be it an ink stain or a rogue dollop of sauce, here are some useful tips so that fashion gaffes don’t ruin your night of fun. 

1. DO cover your bags with a napkin during dinner.

Putting them on your lap makes them prime targets for food stains, so do try to keep them out of harm’s way. 

2. DO wipe your bag immediately should it get stained.

Sac Pristine’s Justine de Leon recommends to wipe it first with a dry cloth, followed by wet tissue (without alcohol content). “Do not rub, and let it dry for 5 to 10 minutes. Also, check the other parts of the bag that might get affected (lining, pocket, accessories), and put paper stuffing [in the affected area] to avoid leaking or spreading,” she adds. Afterward, see a leather cleaning professional right away to properly address the issue. 

3. DO keep your bags out of the rain.

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Water and leather don’t mix so bring an umbrella if the forecast is gloomy. Should it get wet, “dab splashes of water with a soft cloth. Don’t wipe the moisture away,” says Mechelle Mallard of Bag Vanity.

4. DON’T use water repellent spray.

The girls of Sac Pristine advise against this, as it will damage your leather in the future. 

5. DO dry out leather shoes in the open air should they get wet.

Stuff shoes first with paper to absorb moisture and help keep them in shape. Don’t be tempted to dry them out with a hair dryer or near an artificial heat source as it can cause the leather to warp.

6. DO take your bags or shoes to a professional for proper care.

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When, despite your best DIY efforts, your pieces still look a little worse for wear, consider a third-party leather specialist or reputable cobbler to do the job.

7. DO take your bags back to the source.


As a perk, most luxury brands will repair your items and even rejuvenate them (for a fee, of course). However, when it is an issue of misplaced or broken hardware, going back to the brand can be the best solution.

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Mariane Perez
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