In honor of National Handbag Day, we’ve compiled a list of the most-frequently-asked questions about handbag care. Find below the answers by Chuck Horst, President of Garde Robe West.

Q:: Is there anything I should do to a suede purse before I use it?
A:: The best thing you can do to a new suede handbag is to have a professional application of a stain and water repellent applied to the interior lining as well as the exterior.

Q:: What are the hardest stains to remove?
A:: Ink, oil and make up are some of the worst. Crocking (dye transfer) on leathers is generally very removable, although this is not so true for PVC and patent leather handbags, in which irreparable dye transfer may result.

Q:: Can I dye my handbag a different color?
A:: Often this can be done, but dying a bag can be problematic. If the thread is a synthetic fiber it may not take dye the same as the bag. Keep in mind that lining cannot be dyed to match. Also, often the texture of the bag will change in the process. When edges become worn, the original color may show through.

A:: What caused my handbag to develop white spots and a musty odor while it was in storage for the Winter?
Q:: That sounds like mildew. Mildew is a fungus that loves to grow on leathers and textiles in the moist, warm, dark storage areas. First it grows on the top surface, staining and discoloring it. Eventually it can actually damage the item. Mildew is not easy to completely eliminate, depending on how long it’s been allowed to grow. Often ozone treatment is needed to eliminate the odor.

A:: What are the ideal conditions to store handbags?
Q:: Never store your purses in the bottom of a closet; the leather will absorb the excess moisture (especially on slab floors), which causes mold and mildew. Avoid storing purses in plastic bags; always use breathable fabric duster bags (even clean pillowcases) to protect them from dust and control moisture damage. Don’t store your patent leather handbag in contact with other items; dye transfer is a problem which often cannot be remedied. Finally, find a dark, dry, cool area with good air circulation for storing your nice handbags, and generally avoid attics and basements.

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