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5 Ways You’re Damaging Your Designer Handbag Without Knowing It

If you’re like us, then you love your designer handbags. Often, our beloved handbags are more than just bags; they’re also our mood lifters, prized treasures, and wardrobe investments. When it’s a piece you seriously care about, how do you make sure they stay pristine and damage-free?

This is where things can get tricky. While there are a ton of luxury bag restoration hacks on the Internet, not all of them might work for your bag. Here, we bust the 5 biggest bag repair and restoration myths that you should absolutely steer away from. Warning: Do not try this at home!

1. Cleaning your bag with water

Have you ever experienced water marks on your handbag after being caught in the rain? That’s because leather naturally doesn’t mix well with water. 

Different types of leather will have varying degrees of water resistance. For example, Prada’s Saffiano leather or Louis Vuitton’s Epi leather has been treated with a finish that is more durable and water resistant than most other leathers.

But the general rule of thumb is that excessive or prolonged contact with water will cause your bag to lose its natural supple texture when it dries out, becoming stiff and rigid. Worse, you might even notice obvious water marks on your bag. And if the leather doesn’t dry quickly enough, rot and mould may start to set in. After all, mould thrives in a humid environment! 

If you have to use water to quickly clean the odd spot on your bag, make sure the cloth you use is only lightly damp rather than soaked with water.

Read More: 10 Things You Should Absolutely Avoid Around Your Designer Bag

2. Using alcohol-based cleaners

We get it. Disinfecting handbags, and using disinfectants in general, has become all the rage lately. Unfortunately, most cleaning products with alcohol may cause irreparable damage to your beloved bag. This means baby wipes, Clorox wipes, and anything with alcohol in it, including that bottle of hand sanitiser you accidentally left open in your bag.

Alcohol has a naturally alkaline pH level while leather naturally leans towards acidic, becoming more alkaline as it ages. When leather comes into contact with alcohol, the chemical reaction between their acidic and alkaline properties causes damage at a cellular level. When used excessively, alcohol can strip your leather of its colour pigments and permanently dry your leather out. TLDR; you’re basically destroying your bag.

If you do have to use alcohol, make sure to only use it sparingly, and apply a nourishing leather moisturiser after to replace the moisture that’s been stripped off from your leather.

3. Using household cleaners

Using heavy-duty household cleaners is definitely one of the more unusual bag restoration hacks we’ve come across. Well-known socialite and influencer Jamie Chua is a fan of using Cif Cream with micro crystals on her white Hermès handbag, but as she admits, this is one hack where you should proceed with utmost caution!

Household cleaners like Cif Cream are designed for tough dirt removal on solid surfaces like bathroom tile and walls that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. In comparison, leather is a much more delicate material. A household cleaner like Cif will only erode the top layer of your leather along with the stains you were trying to remove. Yikes!

4. Magic Erasers or white melamine sponges

One little trick that’s been making the rounds on designer handbag forums online is rubbing a magic eraser on white leather bags. In reality, magic erasers are made of melamine foam, which is fantastic for cleaning plastic materials. Magic erasers may look soft, squishy, and harmless, but it has an abrasive finish and works just like fine sandpaper.

When used excessively on very fine leathers, a magic eraser can end up removing the thin protective coating that was applied to your leather during its production. This can make it more vulnerable to daily wear and tear, breaking down the colour of your leather and causing damage and undesirable cracks over time.

5. DIY home remedies like lemon juice or vinegar

Whatever DIY cleaning solution you can think of, someone else has probably already tried it on the Internet. One such remedy that we’ve personally tried is white vinegar solution, which allegedly removes mould from your leather bags.

While white vinegar doesn’t destroy your bag in any way, it might not be very effective in mould removal. Our verdict? It’s just a temporary solution to a more permanent problem of festering mould. 

The same goes for other home remedies like baking soda or lemon juice, some of which can be especially harsh on more delicate leathers and cause the problem to be even worse.

Read More: Bags Talk: Maintain and Store Your Designer Bags

Here’s one bag restoration hack that actually works.

If you really want to remove persistent mould and prevent water stains on your leather bags, here’s a tried-and-tested hack: leather water-repellent spray.

While leather can never be truly 100% waterproof due to its sensitive and permeable nature, it can be treated with a water-repellent spray to improve its waterproof ability. Depending on the type of leather, these sprays coat your leather with an additional protective layer that keeps out most water absorption.

The trick is figuring out the right spray for your leather as the wrong one might stain or even ruin your bag.

Or leave it to the professionals.

Not a fan of the hassle? Then leave your designer bags with a professional bag cleaning service. Instead of relying on DIY bag hacks that’ve been debunked, send your designer handbag to bag maintenance experts who truly understand what your bag needs. After all, your bag deserves some much-needed TLC too.

At Style Theory Restore, our extensive bag repair services and cutting-edge techniques help to restore your bags so they look as good as new. Choose from a range of our restoration service packages — from adding a water-repellent treatment to your bag to restoring cracked leather edges of your purse! Find out more about the tools we use, or book your service package here.

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