How to care for leather

It’s vital to take care of your leather bags, especially during the monsoon, writes Sharvani Kashyap

Don’t use a plastic bag to cover your leather bag as the handbag needs some space to breathe and even a little bit of moisture can cause mould.

Leather bags, though attractive and classy, prove to be difficult when it comes to maintenance. Even a tiny amount of moisture can ruin your favourite handbag. This becomes even more troublesome during monsoons. Here are some tips to help you keep your leather bags clean and long-lasting:

How to prevent it from cracking

Experts say there is an effective way to prevent your leather bag from cracking and that is by conditioning it. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you have a cracked leather bag, there are a few things you could do to fix it:

* Use a soft, dry brush to remove the dirt surrounding the leather bag and clean the surface. Next, use a shoe brush to apply soap on the cracks, thereby cleansing them deeper. It is advisable to use mild soaps and softeners and not rub the cracks too harshly as it might lead to more cracks. When you’re done with cleaning the bag, it should be soft and smooth so that you could move to the next step.

* Dab mink oil on the cracked areas. Make sure you apply the oil with gentle pressure. The back of a spoon is best for this. Keep doing it until the cracks absorb the oil, and then wipe off the extra oil. Be cautious when applying oil to coloured leather bags.

* Make sure you treat your bags with good care by applying leather conditioner to the damaged area as well as the surrounding area. Treat the bag once a month by applying softeners or conditioners to keep it in good condition, thereby preventing it from further drying and cracking.

How to store it

Only conditioning the bag is not enough. For the longevity of the bag, you need to ensure that the bag is stored in a dark and preferably cool place. Here’s what you can do: fill the bag with crumbled paper, bubble wrap or air bags to retain its shape. Using newspaper for this task is highly frowned upon as it tends to rub off on the inside fabric.

* Store the bag in a cloth cover or a pillow cover. Don’t use a plastic bag to cover your leather bag as the handbag needs some space to breathe and even a little bit of moisture can cause mould. Avoid hanging the bag as it stretches out the handles.

How to protect it from mildew

It is believed that leather usually has mould-friendly nutrients, so if you want to protect your bag from mildew, you have to take proactive measures. Here are a few things you can do:

* Use an aerosol spray as it prevents mildew from growing inside the bag. You can also use other sprays with low pressure . You can find them with leather retailers or luggage stores. Test it on a small portion so that you are sure that it doesn’t affect the colour of the leather.

* Apply a thin layer of wax to your leather bag. Specialised shoe wax or floor wax also provides protection against moisture. Store it in a dry place. Always remember to keep leather bags clean because mildew grows where there is the presence of dirt. So wiping it with white vinegar prevents spores from growing as it has anti-fungal properties.

* Wipe down the mildew with a soft cloth soaked in a little bit of alcohol and water. Dry the leather bag and apply a wax dressing or aerosol spray. Let it dry naturally.

So, go on and flaunt your leather bags now.

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