DISCLAIMER: This article is provided for informational purposes only. Whilst there are reports of successfully washing and ironing leather - we at MAHI do not recommend washing or ironing leather - if you choose to do this it's done so at your own risk.
Where to store your leather bag
Leather can be damaged by exposure to extreme heat, sunlight or moisture. Ideally you should keep your bag in a fabric dust bag and then store it in a cool, dry, dark place. Leave plenty of space around the bag and wrap buckles and zippers to prevent them marking the bag. You may wish to stuff the bag with acid free paper in order to maintain its shape. Never store a leather bag in plastic and never place items on top of the bag.
How to clean your leather bag
Empty your bag and remove loose dirt with a soft brush, a lint roller or the brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner. Use either a specialist leather cleaner or a small quantity of warm soapy water and gently wipe the bag with a soft cloth. If you are using soapy water, towel dry the bag immediately. Never saturate leather with water and never apply chemical cleaners. Depending on the conditions to which it is exposed, leather will dry out over time and its fibres become brittle and crack. To prevent this, you need to replace the leather’s oils after cleaning. Use a conditioner which is an emulsion of natural oils and waxes and which is easily absorbed into the leather. The application of beeswax will help waterproof the leather.
Can leather bags get wet?
You should avoid getting a leather bag wet. A good quality leather bag will not be affected by a rain shower, but you should never allow your bag to become saturated with water. If your bag does become very wet you should stuff it with paper towel, not newspaper because the ink may mark the lining, and replace it as it becomes saturated. Dry the bag in warm conditions but do not use high heat such as a hairdryer or tumble dryer. When the bag is dry, replenish the oils which have been washed out by using a conditioner.
Can leather bags be washed in a washing machine?
The internet is full of people telling you that they have put their leather bags in the washing machine and that the bag came out fine. So, the answer to the question must be yes. As to the question: ‘Should you put a leather bag in a washing machine?’ The answer is a resounding no. Saturating leather causes it long term damage and will irrevocably shorten the life of the item. Cared for properly your leather bag should give a lifetime of service without ever needing to be submerged in water. If you do spill bright yellow curry all over your bag, you may feel that you have no alternative, but it is a last resort and your bag will never be the same again.
Can you iron a leather bag?
Ironing a leather bag is possible, but it’s not a good idea. A crease or indentation will disappear over time with the application of conditioner but if you really can’t wait then proceed with extreme caution. Use the lowest setting on your iron, place brown paper or 100% cotton cloth over the leather and iron quickly and lightly. Condition the leather afterwards to replenish the oils it will have lost.
Can you dye a leather bag?
There are a range of commercial dyes available which enable you to dye a leather bag yourself or you can send the bag to a leather specialist and they will dye it for you.
Where to fix or repair your leather bag
The repair of leather goods was once a service offered in most towns and villages, these days you will probably have to search online and send your bag away. In North America, Rago Brothers and Leather Surgeons will undertake repairs on designer leather bags and in the UK, The Handbag Spa and The Leather Repair Company will undertake similar work.
How long will a leather bag last?
The answer to this question depends on the quality of the leather, the quality of the other materials and the quality of the construction. A bag made from ‘bonded leather’ or ‘genuine leather’, which is the lowest quality leather, and which is constructed using cheap fittings, will probably only last a couple of years, depending on the kind of treatment you give it. A bag made from good quality full grain leather with sturdy brass fittings and strong zips, will last you a lifetime, if you look after it.