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Sanitising Your Handbag

We have received a number of enquiries regarding sanitising handbags in light of Covid19 - below we have included a detailed article from Purseblog that we think many of you will find helpful. Please note that the below article deals mainly with leather, but the same rules do apply regardless of the material your bag is fashioned from - and includes even such traditionally considered 'hardy' editions such as coated canvas. As a summary: (a) the main precaution is to wash hands frequently (b) short of a bag raincoat, there is little that can be done to keep your bag perfectly sanitised (c) allow any hand sanitiser to dry completely before handling your bag. For our other guides, including Entrupy, scam assistance, and general designer care notes, please click here.

Can You Truly Sanitise Your Handbag?

We've received a lot of feedback over cleaning bags and it left us wondering: can you truly sanitise a handbag? We went on a mission to find out the best ways to disinfect our purses so that we can truly enjoy our bags again and carry them worry-free.

To start, I decided to see what brands and leather care experts had to say, and here are their responses:

We called Hermès to see if they knew of any “safe” ways to sanitise their bags and unfortunately they didn’t have any recommendations aside from using your handbag raincoat and washing your hands frequently.

Louis Vuitton
I spoke to a customer service agent on the phone at Louis Vuitton and they recommended gently wiping down the canvas with a clean white towel, soap and water.

Collonil recommends using their waterstop spray, followed by a conditioning treatment from their leather gel to kill off any viruses and create a protective barrier for your bag. Though this can't be done on a daily basis, it can be done once a month. Be sure to follow up with the conditioner to keep your bag from getting too dry. This is part of my personal purse care routine and something I do to keep my bags in tip top shape.

The Handbag Spa
The Handbag Spa actually makes an anti-bacterial cleanse which claims to kill 99% of bacteria on all types of leather and fabric, including interiors. This is something I have never tried myself, so I urge you to use with caution as you never know how a product will react with a bag. Spot testing is a good idea any time you're using a new product.

Leather Spa
The Leather Spa says that anything with alcohol in the wipe is harmful to the leather (more on that later), so they would recommend the leather shampoo. However, be careful not to overuse this because it will dry out the bag. They also stated that it’s more a safety precaution than a disinfectant. With that being said this is not a product I have personally tried myself and I would be very cautious with what bags I would use it on. Try to avoid delicate leathers like lambskin and suede at first and remember to always spot test.

To summarise, unfortunately the issue with using commercial or even hospital grade cleaners, is that they have an alkaline pH level. This means that every time the leather on a bag comes into contact with them, the acidic and alkaline properties try to neutralise each other, causing damage via chemical reaction at a cellular level. Essentially, it's basically destroying your bag. With that being said, baby wipes, Clorox wipes, and anything with alcohol in it can truly ruin a bag far beyond staining or stripping the surface—it can cause serious irreparable damage as it penetrates the leather.

Soaps are also going to be a no go, as leather does not have the ability to repair itself like living human skin. If you feel like you still MUST do something, try looking into products that support your leather's natural pH, often tagged "pH balanced” or “pH matched”. On that note, never forget to test a product on a discreet part of the bag before applying to your bag in full. Make sure the spot test doesn't cause any adverse reactions to your bag. It's also always a good idea to moisturise after, so the bag doesn’t become brittle, as too much treatment can lead to dry rot.

[All text courtesy of Purseblog]

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