How to Care for Your Designer Bag

If you’ve just bought a stunningly stylish, preloved designer handbag from Papillonkia then you’ll want to keep it as pristine as possible, in the same way as it came to you – as good as new. In this piece, discover how to retain your luxury bag’s head-turning good looks with some tips from the Papillonkia experts.

Designer Bags Are Built To Last

No matter the material of designer handbag, it should last you for many years if it’s well looked after. The Superbrands choose premium quality materials that are designed to last and it’s true to say that many items look better with age, especially those crafted from goat leather. However, if your bag is used very regularly and it’s often left on grubby floors, or thrown around, it’s bound to deteriorate. Likewise, left in the wardrobe gathering dust and attracting damp will doubtless take its toll on your prized possession!

Lifetime Investments

Certain brands are life-long brands, such as Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Gucci (of course there are many more too). In fact, if you’ve purchased a coveted style like a Hermes Birkin bag, then your bag should appreciate in value because it’s so sought after! So, it’s worth taking care of your bags as some are lifetime investment pieces. Looking after your bag will give you years of good use and allow you to carry on using it for years on end. It’s all about storing it properly and making sure that signs of wear and tear are addressed as soon as they happen.

Selling Your Bag On…

Like anything precious, if you look after your designer bag, it will always look great and then when you decide you want to invest in something new, or you tire of your designer bag, it will still be in good enough condition to be consigned back to Papillonkia!


1 Are your Hands Nice and Clean?

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all adopted scrupulous hand-washing habits! This definitely benefits your handbag because when you handle a quality handbag, it’s really important to make sure they’re clean. That means not taking out your precious Chloe handbag when you’ve just applied your make-up! Washing your hands before you handle your bag will stop you getting grease or oil on it.

2 Protect the Inside

Don’t just throw all of your belongings inside your bag (especially make-up). Use a bag organiser that you can buy from Papillonkia and store all of your essentials inside, then just lift it out and pop into another handbag when you’re changing over. We have superb handmade liners that come complete with multiple compartments and are available in an array of rainbow colours to co-ordinate with your handbag This keeps the interior of your precious handbag spotless and dust-free (as well as making bag organisation a cinch!). These also make super gifts for friends and loved ones who can’t resist a smart handbag!

3 Don’t Leave Your Bag on the Floor

It’s tempting when you’re out and about to place your handbag next to you on the floor. Not only does this put your expensive designer bag at risk of theft, it’s also very unhygienic and almost certainly will pick up stains and dirt. So, think about where you “shove” your bag. If you’re sitting on a seat, check it’s clean, place your bag very close to you, alongside you or put it on your lap away from prying eyes and dirt. If you’re in a restaurant, invest in the clips that attach to your table, this stops dirt and prevents theft. Wearing a cross-body? Don’t take it off! Keep it around your body and place on your lap if you can. Always check the surface of anywhere you’re going to put your handbag – you don’t want dirt to transfer onto the material.

4 When You’re Finished, Empty Your Bag

Don’t keep your bag cluttered up with your bits and pieces; always empty your bag after use and check the inside (and outside) for marks. If there are any, try a spot stain remover but do check that it’s compatible with your bag’s material. Lint rollers are great for removing dust from the inside of your bag. Leather bags can be gently wiped with a microfibre cloth to get rid of dust but if you do get a mark on your bag, refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for removal. There are bag restoration companies for severe staining and wear and tear. There are only some bags that can take water so check first, no matter how tempting, it’s best to invest in proper cleaning if you’ve spent a fortune on a dream designer bag.

5 Don’t Leave Repairs

If you notice stitching coming loose or leather wearing out, then get these problems dealt with as soon as possible. The brand should be able to guide you as to where to take your bag for repairs or find a specialist leather repair shop (assuming your bag is made of leather). If it’s just stitching, a decent dressmaker might be able to help but the bag’s brand should always be your first port of call. Brands like Mulberry offer a refurbishment service which is useful.

6 Keep Your Bag Stored Nicely

Ready to store your bag away? Once you’re sure it’s clean, fill it with acid-free, white tissue paper or a special bag pillow like this gorgeous faux fur pillow or this handmade velvet pillow to help it to retain its shape. Use a cardboard box if you can keep it away from moisture. Pad out your bag with the pillow and fasten it, if there is any hardware, wrap it carefully to stop it scratching and fold down the handles. Wrap your bag up in the dust bag if you have it, if not, use a pillowcase instead but make sure it’s cotton because a natural fibre allows your bag to breathe. Place your bag carefully in a cupboard away from other bags and make sure it has plenty of space surrounding it so it doesn’t get squashed. You can also place a label on the front box so you can easily find the bag you want without rummaging through lots of boxes.

Caring For Different Materials

As well as caring for your overall handbag, here’s a guide to caring for different materials too.


How to Care for Leather

General Care

When you store your leather handbag, make sure that it is away from heat, sunlight and chemicals. It should be in a dry area, that’s well-ventilated so as not to attract damp. Never use plastic to store leather, as a natural material, it needs to be covered in something natural, such as cotton or linen. Every time you finish using your handbag, do put it away but it is absolutely essential that at the end of a season, you store your leather properly. At this point, we’d recommend getting it professionally cleaned once a year, but at the very least, give it a good dust with a clean, soft cloth and then gently stuff it with acid-free tissue paper. Wrap your bag in its dust-bag (or a pillowcase as mentioned) and store in a cardboard box.


Caviar Leather

Caviar leather (Chanel bags, for example) is a grained calfskin leather that’s used by Chanel. The leather is quite hard to the touch and it’s heavier than normal lambskin, but it can become scratched and marked, the same as any other leather. If you get a mark on caviar leather, take a very soft cloth and gently rub in a circular motion. If the leather gets wet, dry it carefully using an absorbent cloth and don’t rub it hard. Never leave your bag exposed to sunlight or moisture and avoid prolonged exposure to artificial light. When wearing caviar leather handbags, don’t overfill them and don’t wear them next to a colour that might stain your handbag.

Lambskin Leather

Lambskin leather is softer and more fragile than caviar leather and should be treated with care as it can mark easily. It’s delicate, with a smooth, soft texture. Avoid using your lambskin leather in the rain or anywhere where it could get wet. It’s best to treat it before use with a spray that guards against water marks as a precaution.
For scratches or marks to your lambskin handbag, try a gentle leather cleaner which works well on minor scratches but for deeper grooves or marks, take it to a specialist.
Lambskin is also prone to wrinkling, usually that wrinkly appearance can be reduced through using acid-free tissue paper as stuffing or a bag organizer that fits snugly inside your bag (without force) to smooth it out. For bad wrinkling, a leather specialist can use a leather iron to smooth out any misshape.
Leather bags can change colour when they’re exposed to too much sunlight (just like our own skins), so avoid sunlight where you can. However, a leather specialist may be able to treat your bag, so it reverts back to its original shade if yours has been exposed and the shade has altered.

Other Materials


Canvas is a natural fibre and should be looked after to retain its good looks.  It’s easy to clean, generally, and for marks and stains, a plain white cloth with mild soapy water should be enough to get rid of them.  Don’t rub too hard, dabbing is best to draw out a stain.  For major stains, take your bag to a specialist dry cleaners.  Sometimes, canvas bags are completely washable but check with the brand before throwing yours into the washing machine!

If your canvas bag is a pale colour, be careful not to wear it against a colour that might rub, for example, a pair of denim jeans.

As with other bags, always store your canvas bag away from sunlight and damp.  Stuff it with acid-free tissue and wrap it carefully in a cotton dust-bag, then place in a cardboard box for safe keeping.


Satin is prone to stains as it is a delicate fabric so it should be taken care of. Some satin handbags can be washed on a very delicate cycle but be sure to check with the brand first, especially if your satin bag is a clutch as it may be made with metal inside to keep its structure.  For severe staining, it is best to take your bag to a quality dry cleaner’s.

If your satin bag features a metal frame, polish it gently using a soft cloth and a circular motion.  You could also use a damp cloth to wipe over the frame first and if there’s dirt or debris on the frame, use a soft-bristled toothbrush with clean, cool water.  Gently brush the area (avoiding the satin) to loosen the dirt.

You can sponge dirt off a satin bag by combining 100ml cold water and 100ml of white wine vinegar and squeezing out excess liquid.  Dab the surface using the sponge, and then take a clean sponge, soak that in cool water, squeeze it out and dab again.

To dry your bag, use a clean towel and pat the bag to remove excess water.  Open the bag and use a blow dryer inside, on a cool setting.  Next, leave it in a dry place overnight.  Always store your bag with acid-free tissue paper, wrapped in a cotton or similar cloth and in a cardboard box.

Velvet Handbags

Velvet is also a delicate fabric although not as delicate as satin.  The best way to lightly clean velvet is to use a very soft brush and gently brush away any dust or dirt.  If there’s no other evidence of misuse, simply store it using acid-free tissue paper, wrap it in a cotton or similar dustbag (never plastic as this encourages damp, velvet needs to breathe). and place it in a cardboard box for safe-keeping.

For heavy soiling, you may be able to wash it depending on your bag’s structure but check with the brand.  To avoid dirt collecting on your bag, you could treat your bag with a light upholstery cleaner before wearing it.  Light stains can be treated with warm, soapy water but take care to dab rather than rub and always use a gentle cloth.

Avoid wearing a light-coloured velvet against a dark coloured fabric that might rub, to prevent the colour from bleeding.

Goat Leather Bags

Grainy goat leather is the type of leather that looks better as it ages. It is fairly resistant to bruising, so it’s tougher and stronger than cow’s leather. It’s also lightweight and often a more affordable leather too.

Quite tough, and durable the more you wear your goat leather bag, the more you’ll love it! One bonus is that it’s water-resistant and that’s because this type of leather has lanolin in it – which comes from the goat’s actual skin, so water tends to bounce off of it (as long as it isn’t completely drenched!).

Cleaning your goat leather bag is easy. Just wipe it with a soft, damp cloth and leave it to dry naturally. Dirt on your leather should be easily lifted by using a soft cloth, never rub your goat leather, it may be strong, but doing so could make the mark worse. You could use some leather cleaner to buff it up and remove any light soiling.

To keep it nice and shiny, polish it up using a leather cleaner, it’s good for the leather too, every now and then. For scratches, gently polish out with a little leather cleaner and work it into the scratch to help diminish the appearance. For deep scratches, you would be better advised to see a leather specialist. However, the real beauty of goat leather is that those scratches and marks often make it look even better!

Store your goat leather bag in the same way as other bags, away from direct sunlight, in a dry place (without any damp) and stuffed with acid-free tissue paper. Wrap it in a cotton or linen bag and place in a cardboard box.

What you should never do:

• Leave a bag unwrapped and out – it will get dusty.
• Store your bag without padding it out or in a dust bag.
• Hang your bag, this destroys its shape.
• Use plastic boxes, only use cardboard or you risk your bag sweating which damages the leather
• Store your bag close to sunlight, light can change its colour, keep it in a dark place (your cupboard is perfect).
• Store your handbag in a damp environment.

Hopefully the above guide gives you everything you need to know on looking after your favourite designer handbags. Remember, if in doubt, get in touch with the brand or seek the help of a leather expert.

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