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Keep your handbags looking sparkly & new

Cleaning and caring for your collection of handbags, carry bags and nappy changing bags isn’t a job that usually makes the monthly ‘to do’ list, but accessories designer Rebecca Lima, of Jem + Bea, thinks it ought to.

Rebecca shares her tips for cleaning, storing and for prolonging the life of your leather bags.

Wash down with wet wipes

Clean your best bags using leather wipes, which are a bit like wet wipes for handbags. The best I’ve found are the traditional ‘Gold Label Leather Wipes‘ which are actually designed for the saddlery industry. These are great for carefully wiping away dirt and grease on handbags.

Use on rotation

Try to rotate a few bags throughout the week so you’re not just using the same bag day in and day out. Make sure the bag you’re using is fit for purpose – that means not overfilling it or putting too much strain on the handles or closure.

Store in cotton dust bags

Stow away bags that you aren’t using regularly. Pop them inside cotton dust bags and store in a cupboard. This keeps your good bags clean and stops the leather from wearing and fading.

Come up with creative storage solutions

Being a bag designer and general hoarder of handbags, I have bags coming out my ears. So I need to be creative about how I keep them. I tend to store my most precious pieces carefully away as described above and the rest I box up flat and file in different categories, such as ‘slouchy’, ‘vintage’, ‘designer’ etc. Some of the prettier ones just demand to be seen, so I like to display them on a coat hook or place them on my bookshelf.

Stuff with newspaper

Before storing, it’s a good idea to stuff your bags with newspaper to help them keep their shape. The paper also absorbs moisture to stop your bag from going mouldy.

Get a check-up

A good cobbler is usually able to repair your minor handbag problems. For more serious issues, seek out a handbag ‘clinic’. I use The Leather Fix in Mayfair, London. It’s amazing what they can do, so don’t write-off a damaged bag until you’ve checked with a specialist first.

Treat pale colours with care

Be really really carefully with light coloured bags – these are definitely the hardest to maintain. Even a little bit of water can stain a very natural light-coloured leather. Beware of dark denim, it’s almost impossible to remove! I once ruined a pale coloured bag when my brand new jeans rubbed on the back of the bag.

Aim for good feng-shui

Get some good bag ‘feng-shui’ and re-pack the night before you’re heading out to an event – it’s amazing how much accumulates over the course of a day and you don’t want to end up carrying around things you don’t need for the following day. I have gone to work with my toddlers socks and shoes in my bag before!

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