Bags Talk HK

Easy Ways to Maintain and Store Your Designer Bags

Welcome to Style Theory Hong Kong’s very own Bags Talk series, a definitive guide to navigating the luxurious and intricate world of designer bags. Consider it your starting point to understanding how to kickstart or better your journey with everything designer bags-related! 

Utter the words “designer bags” over any Sunday champagne brunch table, and you’re bound to cause a stir of excitement. With the average woman owning at least four designer bags in her lifetime, most would resonate with the fluttery excitement of unboxing their dream designer bag after months of researching and saving up! 

Designer bags, as the saying goes, are worth the investment. But what they don’t tell you is that the cost of these investments goes beyond the initial price tag. You’d have to factor in time and space for regular maintenance and proper storage – even having to spend more on cleaning appliances and proper shelving solutions.

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Designer handbags typically last at least five years with some care, but they can definitely last longer with the right cleaning techniques, tools, and storage care. So how do you go about ensuring your favourite handbags maintain their value and condition? 

Read on for our best recommendations when maintaining and storing your designer bags:

    1. Before Use,
    2. While in Use, and
    3. After Use

Maintaining Your Designer Bags:

Maintaining your bags is a process that follows you throughout your bag’s lifespan. We’re breaking it down into three simple phases for you:

  1. Before Use

The thrill of unboxing your dream designer bag can be exhilarating, but don’t jump the gun just yet – essential steps are not to be missed before you take your brand new baby out for a spin! 

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With Hong Kong’s humidity levels averaging at 77% all year round, you would expect moisture to be the least of your problems when it comes to maintaining your designer bag. Truth is, constant exposure to humidity can cause bags to develop mildew, a form of fungus, which spreads easily and leaves a musty odour on your bags. 

On top of that, there’s a chance of your bag getting rained on (a tropical country like Singapore experiences an average of 167 rainy days a year!), especially during the monsoon season. So how can we defend our bags from the harsh elements?

    • Leather: Calf, Lambskin or Crocodile
      Apply rainblock to ensure your designer bag is protected by water and rain.

How to get started: Ensure the bag is clean before applying treatments. Add a small amount of balm or rainblock treatment onto a clean and dry cloth. Apply lightly in a circular motion on all leather areas of your bag.

    • Leather: Suede
      For bags made of suede, balming and rainblock treatments are a big no-no. Instead, use a nano silicon-based waterproofing spray to protect your bag from external elements! 

How to get started: Evenly spritz a layer of waterproofing spray to coat the suede bag before use.

  1. While in Use

Besides regular cleaning, treatment, and shaping, it is important to be mindful when using the bag. One careless move might leave a dreadful pen mark or lipstick stain! It can get troublesome to remove these stains as they require professional care.

    • Opt for compact organisation solutions:
      By storing your things in a cosmetic pouch or a handbag organiser, they’ll protect your bag’s inner lining from nasty stains and accidental spills.
    • Avoid stress on handles:
      Though bag hooks are extremely convenient, they do add unwanted wear or tear on bag handles and straps after prolonged use, especially if the bag is heavy. So as much as you can, avoid using bag hooks! Instead ask for a chair or a bag stand for your bag.
    • Remove accidental stains carefully:
      If you’ve accidentally stained your bag, don’t panic! Avoid rubbing the surface furiously as you might end up rubbing the stain further into the leather. Instead, use flour or talcum powder to cover the stain, and then brush it off. Once you’re home, you can then proceed to the next step below.
  1. After Use

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Before diving into the cleaning process, it is important to know the material composition of your designer bag. Just like the laundry care and instructions that come with your designer apparel, knowledge of how to clean your bag right is imperative in prolonging the longevity of your investment.

    • Leather: Calf, lamb or crocodile

How to get started: With a clean and and dry microfiber cloth, wipe in small circular motions. Be sure to clean parts of the bag that comes in contact with surfaces — the handles and all four corners. You may choose to use a mild liquid cleanser only when needed. Note that frequent exposure to cleaning agents may dry out the leather.

Cleaning frequency: Once every two weeks, or as needed

Pro-tip: Opt for a universal liquid cleanser, and never use home remedies like vinegar or baby wipes.

    • Leather: Suede

How to get started: Use a dry brush to clear out any dust or dirt from the interior and exterior of the bag.

Cleaning frequency: Once every two weeks, or as needed

Storing Your Designer Bags:

Whether you’re retiring your bag for the day, week, or even an entire season, it’s important to keep to the same disciplined practices of storing your bags right.

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Carrying heavy contents regularly causes bags to lose their shape.

As a proud owner of a designer bag, the last thing you’d want to see is your investment slouching and sinking into itself. Due to the natural elasticity of leather, it can easily lose its shape from regular use or careless storage.

  • Stuffing

Luckily, with a little discipline and the right stuffing, maintaining your bag’s shape is easy! Before placing it back onto the shelf, ensure that you’ve stuffed your bag to retain its shape as it sits pretty in between uses.

How to get started: When choosing stuffing, avoid materials that may cause scratches, stains or colour transfer. Instead, opt for malleable, soft, and scratch-free materials that can be easily shaped to fit into designer bags of any size; we recommend paper tissues.  

Frequency: You should always stuff your bags with the right stuffing in between uses.

 

  • Dust Bags

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When we get home after a long day, we’re often tempted to toss our bags onto a shelf, or worse, the floor. But with that, comes a few repercussions — when you leave your bag without its dust bag, you risk exposing it to dirt, stains, and possible scratches from carelessness. Exposing the bags to light and sunlight may cause discolouration of the bag’s original colour. When this happens, the much-dreaded process and cost of having to send your designer bag for professional cleaning and restoration are inevitable.

How to get started: Keep a regular habit of storing your designer bags in the original dust bag and you’ll greatly minimise the dangers of stains and discolouration!

Pro-tip: Lost the original dust bag? Opt for a natural fibre storage bag or a 100% cotton pillowcase to store your designer bag. 

  • Storage Accessories 

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    • Invest in open shelves:

The most common way to store bags is on open shelves! They are easy to clean and provide easy access. Do invest in a proper shelving solution that accommodates all your designer bags without pressing them against each other as they may cause dents on your bags.

When storing them on the shelf, ensure they are always kept upright to maintain the shape of the designer bags. Clutches, on the other hand, can be laid flat to avoid applying pressure on its thin base.

For top handles or chain straps, keep them in the bags to avoid entanglement. Chains should be kept in between stuffing to prevent them from causing marks or scratches to the inner linings of the bags.

Pro-tip: Shelves should be installed in the coolest part of your home and away from direct sunlight.

    • Invest in dehumidifiers:

If you have to keep your bags in a closed closet, consider investing in a dehumidifier. It helps keep the enclosed air dry, as moisture can damage leather bags in the long run! 

After 3 Months of Frequent Use:

After about three months, you’ll notice that some of its shine and coat might have worn off — especially for those who regularly use their designer bags. Be sure that you have a set of treatments at home for easy reapplication.

Similar to the step taken before use, reapply balming and rainblock treatments. Applicable to calfskin, lambskin, and crocodile leather bags. For suede, spray a new coat of nano silicon-based waterproofing.

Frequency: Reapply treatment every three months

We know it can be tough when it comes to maintaining and storing your own designer bags. But with these best practices and a little discipline, you’ll be a pro in no time! 

If you’re time-strapped or want little commitment when it comes to designer bags, consider:

  1. Renting

Renting is perfect for those who want to enjoy the flexibility of wearing different designer styles every month without the commitment of space and time taken to maintain a bag. 

So happy I finally got to try my dream bag, the Chloé Tess, but I realised… it’s not my dream bag after all! Renting is the best way to test if you like its size, weight, and strap length before you commit to a big purchase.” – Abigail K., designer bag subscriber. 

I have the budget to only purchase one designer bag at a time but one single bag is never enough and I get bored after a while. When I found out Style Theory provided a designer bag subscription service at only $129 a month, I thought, “Take my money!”. With the subscription, I got to try out different styles including my dream bag, the Chanel Boy.” – Michelle S, designer bag subscriber.

About Author

In pure Aries fashion, Nicolette’s passions reveal themselves in fiery bursts — tell that to her 4-year-old flugelhorn still in mint condition. If she isn’t DM-ing you memes from private Instagram accounts, she’s probably snuggled up to a sitcom. A huge admirer of the harmonious coexistence between the style sensibilities and atrocities of the ‘90s. Yin and yang, baby.

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