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A guide to cleaning and caring for your bags the right way, according to different materials

A guide to cleaning and caring for your bags the right way, according to different materials

TLC time

Text: Joan Kong


Image: Getty Images

With all the time on your hands, why don't you give your bags their much-needed spruce-up

Bags will always have a special place in our hearts—agree? Designer bags or not, you’ve invested money in them, so it’s only natural that you treat them with the utmost care. This MCO, if you’ve already spent time spring-cleaning your wardrobe (check out some tips from me and the team!) and your beauty shelf, the next space that needs some TLC, is probably your bag closet. While nothing beats a professional cleaning, there are simple ways you could clean and maintain your precious carriers in-between visits.

Below, a guide to cleaning and caring your bags the right way:

Leather

A guide to cleaning and caring for your bags the right way, according to different materials (фото 1)

Things to note

#1 A quick search online and you’ll notice tons of DIY suggestions including nail polish remover, lemon juice, or cream of tartar, but since leather is a natural material derived from the skin of an animal, when it comes to cleaning them, it’s best to avoid these “home remedies”. Instead, opt for proper leather cleaner and conditioner—they're affordable, and they can be used for other leather including shoes and furniture too.

#2 Before you start cleaning, always approach with caution and make sure to spot-test an area before working on the entire bag.

#3 Regardless whether you’re trying to remove a stain or doing your regular cleaning, always apply with a light hand.

#4 A good leather protector can protect your bag against minor scratches (such as those from your fingernails) and it helps to repel oils, water, and more too.

What you need:

Leather cleaner
Leather conditioner
A few soft cloths

1. First, begin by brushing off any dust from the surface of your bag using a clean, dry cloth.

2. Apply some leather cleaner on a new, dry cloth, and work panel by panel to ensure it’s cleaned evenly.

3. Wipe them off with another clean, dry cloth to remove excess moisture. This is to avoid the leather re-absorbing the dirt, and the cleaner clogging its pores.

4. Let the bag air-dry for 30 minutes.

5. Apply the leather conditioner onto a soft cloth and spread it on the bag panel by panel. This will ensure the surface remain soft and supple.

Stain removal

1. Dab the stained spot as soon as possible with a tissue or dry cloth. Remember to work from outwards to inwards so the stain won’t spread.

2. Once it’s dry, apply the leather conditioner which will help replenish the stripped oils from the open pores.

3. Leave it to dry. Do not try to apply heat to speed up the drying process.

Canvas

A guide to cleaning and caring for your bags the right way, according to different materials (фото 2)

Things to note

#1 The first thing you should do is to check the label. Most of the times, it comes with washing instructions which make things easier.

#2 If your canvas bag feature vibrant tones or prints, do the colour-fading test first to make sure the hues don’t transfer or fade when in contact with water. How? Dip a small part of the bag in water and let it sit for around 10 minutes before checking the colour of the water.

#3 If there are stains on your bag, make sure they’re removed before washing it.

#4 You can throw your everyday canvas totes in the washing machine (make sure to use cold water only). However, for designer canvas bags, it’s best to clean it by hand.

What you need:

Mild detergent
Warm water
Soft scrub brush

1. Make sure to empty all the pockets and compartments. Use a lint roller to remove any dust if necessary.

2. Submerge it into the warm soapy water and scrub it softly in circular motion.

3. After you’ve scrubbed it clean, rinse it in clean water.

4. Allow the bag to air-dry.

Stain removal

1. Stain remover or regular detergent does the trick.

2. Dab them on using a wet cloth and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before patting it with a paper towel to dry.

3. You can try using a scrub brush to clean stubborn stains.

Suede

A guide to cleaning and caring for your bags the right way, according to different materials (фото 3)

Things to note

#1 The key to preserving your suede bag is to keep them dry at all times. Suede’s highly absorbent and water will cause discolouration.

#2 If you need some moisture, hold your bag above some steam for a few seconds instead, and proceed to clean it after.

#3 Do not leave your bag out in the sun as it might cause the colour to fade and change.

What you need:

Dry cloth
Suede brush or a toothbrush
Suede conditioner (optional)

1. Using a clean, dry towel, gently rub the bag to clear surface marks.

2. The suede brush—which you can find online or from a specialty leather store—can be used to remove stain or clumps of dust. But make sure to brush in one direction to avoid ruining the texture of your bag.

3. If you have a suede conditioner (or if you’d like to get one), pour a little onto the cloth and rub it into the bag in short strokes. This will help refresh the bag and maintain its appearance.

Stain removal

Dry stains

1. Use a pencil eraser and gently erase them away. Make sure it’s clean to avoid transferring the dirt to the suede material.

2. Rub down the bag with a clean cloth.

Liquid stains

1. When you spill liquid on your bag, blot the stain instead of rubbing them.

2. You can try using talcum powder to absorb the liquid residue and leave it overnight.

3. Use a brush to remove the excess the next day.

Straw

A guide to cleaning and caring for your bags the right way, according to different materials (фото 4)

Things to note

#1 If your straw bag is coloured, make sure to do a spot-test first by using a damp cloth.

#2 If your bag is not structured, stuff it with a pillow or old clothing to maintain its shape.

#3 Avoid scrubbing too hard as you might damage the straw fibers.

What you need:

Soap
Cold water
White cloth

1. Mix a few drops of mild soap (dish detergent or baby shampoo) into the cold water.

2. Dip your cloth into the soapy mixture and wring it out before wiping down the bag to from top to bottom. Make sure to follow the direction of the weave.

3. Rinse the cloth with cold water, or use a clean cloth to blot the bag.

4. Leave it to dry overnight in a cool area.

Stain removal

1. Simply dip an old toothbrush in the soapy mixture above and gently rub the stain away.

2. To remove any dust trapped in the weave, you can try using a vacuum—with an upholstery brush—to suck them out.

Nylon

A guide to cleaning and caring for your bags the right way, according to different materials (фото 5)

Things to note

#1 Nylon is very durable and easy to care for, but regular fuss-free cleaning will help extend its lifespan.

#2 Make sure your nylon bags are not lined with delicate materials such as leather or suede if you were to rinse it in water.

#3 Do not dry your bag under direct sunlight as that will cause discoloration.

What you need:

Soap
Cold water
Cloth

1. Fill your basin with cool water and a few drops of mild soap.

2. Soak your bag in the water for about 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Rinse it with cool water and remove the moisture with a clean, dry towel.

Stain removal

1. Use a toothbrush to scrub the stain. A circular motion will help to remove it more effectively.

2. Wipe down the bag with a wet cloth and blot it dry.

3. Let it air dry.

To properly care for your bags, the way you store them is equally important too. Always remember to keep them in dust bags when you’re not using them, and place them upright (instead of hanging them) to make sure they don’t lose their shape.

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