Buying a fine leather purse or wallet carries with it the anticipation of using something beautiful for a long time.
Some simple care-steps performed year-round will keep your luxury leather bag supple and glowing. In addition to your regular care-routine, keep a special eye out for the unique hazards of summer. With a little effort your bag will remain beautiful, no matter what stresses the weather brings.
Even a tan can burn. Okay, it’s kind of a silly pun, but it’s important to remember that, like your skin, leather is a natural material that needs protection from intense heat and light. The tanning process that preserves leather helps it retain moisture but cannot spare it from damage very similar to sunburn. Sunburned leather develops dry patches, cracks and even chalky spots. Natural oils may discolor, and colored surfaces may even blister.
- Seek shade for your bag. Whether it’s a reception at the club or an outdoor meal at a local bistro, the umbrella over your table may not provide a sheltered spot for your bag. Keeping it in your lap can be an awkward alternative. When you expect to be eating or drinking outdoors, make sure there’s room in your work-tote or shopping basket to hide your leather bag from the sun. This protects it from spills and also provides protection for your bag when there’s no really good place to put it but on the ground.
- Examine outdoor surfaces before setting your bag down. Outdoor food and drink service can leave greasy or sticky spots on tables and serving surfaces. Grab extra napkins to stave off stains and keep exterior surfaces like brick and stone from scratching your bag.
- Prevent sabotage from the inside out. It’s tempting in summer heat to squirrel away water and sunblock bottles within easy reach, but they are summer’s worst stain-makers. Not in your leather bag, please! You might make an exception if your bag has a special water-bottle holder, but a water stain from the inside is as damaging to leather as a water stain from the outside. In the worst cases, it leaves marks that can never be completely removed. If you must make room for sunblock, hand-sanitizer or insect repellent, carry small quantities in a sealable liquid-proof bag or set up a tiny tote.
- If long drives are part of your summer routine, don’t let your bag call “shotgun.” Make it a practice to carry it in a shaded spot in the car. The a/c may keep you cool, but prolonged exposure to intense light is hard on leather, too.
- Wipe your bag off with a soft dry cloth as soon as you bring it indoors. This is your best insurance against potential damage from humid air, pollen, dust and other pollutants. If your bag is particularly dusty, use a lightly dampened cloth first, then dry it thoroughly. Follow the directions for your leather cleaner, if you use one (we’ll talk more about care products in another post).
- Empty your bag completely. Wipe inside surfaces lightly with a dry cloth. Store it unlatched, to let any residual moisture dissipate from inner surfaces.
- Use the dust bag that came with your bag. If the dust bag is now gone, a clean tea towel or an old pillowcase makes a fine replacement. Do not use a plastic bag because it can retain humidity. Wrap your bag loosely and lay it flat on a cool, dry closet shelf.