The cleaning hacks that are RUINING your handbag

Is your go-to cleaning hack ruining your handbag? Expert reveals how household products like baby wipes and nail polish removers cause MORE damage – and explain why you should always ‘blot’ rather than ‘rub’

  • Charlotte Staerck is the co-founder of UK’s Handbag Clinic, a restoration retailer 
  • She revealed some tips to help stop any handbag damage from becoming worse
  • Charlotte revealed the items that can do more harm than good to belongings

Whether it’s reaching for a baby wipe or a dash of nail polish remover, everyone has a go-to cleaning hack that they swear by for getting out pesky stains. 

But accessory restorations expert Charlotte Staerck has warned these household products often do more harm than good when applied to leather goods and delicate fabrics.

Speaking to FEMAIL, Charlotte, co-founder the UK’s Handbag Clinic, revealed the popular tricks people should avoid when it comes to cleaning handbags – and what you should do in the minutes after noticing a stain to stop it from getting worse. 

Doing more damage: Accessory restorations expert Charlotte Staerck warned household products often do more harm than good when applied to leather goods and delicate fabrics. Pictured, a Chanel bag covered in a child’s well-intentioned drawing

Don’t use baby wipes to lift stains, ingrained marks or dirt

‘This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions out there and Handbag Clinic frequently receives bags that have been damaged through the use of baby wipes,’ said the expert.

‘Because baby wipes contain various cleaning chemicals, these can be too abrasive on pigmented leather and can lead to colour loss and leave water marks. This then requires specialist treatment.

How you should tackle a stain on your bag 

‘So this isn’t something that should be attempted at home or you risk damaging and devaluing your much loved handbag.’

Vinegar and nail varnish remover are not great stain removal tricks

‘OK, let’s be clear, ladies. “Kim & Aggie” style shortcuts do not apply to caring for your handbags,’ said Charlotte.

‘Using highly abrasive chemicals such as vinegar and nail varnish remover is one of the most damaging misconceptions out there and leads to the pigmented colour being drawn out of the leather.

‘When you’re spending hundreds and often thousands of pounds on a luxury handbag, that’s a big investment for most people so cleaning it and protecting it from day one is essential if you want to keep luxury’s promise of longevity.

‘Obviously, accidents do happen so if you accidentally stain your bag there are some steps you can follow to reduce the staining and ensure this causes as little damage as possible before handing it over to the experts.’

Do not put your leather, suede or fabric bag in the washing machine

‘For the love of God, no,’ insisted Charlotte. ‘There are a surprising amount of cleaning blogs and forums sharing this trick and it’s the surest way to ruin the shape and structure of your precious handbag.

‘What’s more, it’s not even effective at drawing out the dirt or stains. We’ve had a marked increase of washing machine casualties arrive in the clinic throughout the pandemic and these then require structural reinforcement.’

Charlotte Staerc revealed some tips to help stop any damage from becoming worse. Pictured, a ruined handbag covered in a large wine stain 

From using baby wipes to get rid of stains to trying nail polish remover, Charlotte insisted these items can do more harm than good to your belongings when used to fix any issues. Pictured, a handbag with a stain mark on it

Avoid using washing up liquid to clean your handbag

‘Whilst this is a slightly gentler approach, it can still result in water marks and lines which requires specialist treatment,’ said Charlotte.

‘Many people also only use this on a certain area rather than the whole bag which leads to the water marks. The most common issue we see at Handbag Clinic is a liquid stain on a bag.

‘Most items in luxury fashion are made from lightly treated leathers for their luxurious butter soft feel, however this means they are very absorbent.

‘As bags are used outside and inside, they are prone to coming into contact with common liquids such as rain water, beverages, perfume leaks and believe it or not hair dyes.’ Preventive measures – like moving your handbags away from these items – are often best, she suggested.

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