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Handbag Cleaning 101 -- Plus, Hot Handbags to Buy and Make

The Martha Stewart Show, September 2007

It's amazing how the handbag has gone from just an accessory to a staple in a woman's wardrobe. We all love our handbags and, depending on how much big of a collection you have, they can become quite an investment. That's why it's important to care for your bag properly to ensure that it has a long life and survives all the opening, closing, stashing, storing, and toting you put it through. Periodic cleaning and proper storage will keep your bag looking like new -- even if it's last season.

How to Clean Your Handbag

1. Empty all pockets and shake gently to remove dust and debris.

2. Clean interior of bag by gently pulling it inside out and using a lint roller. If you can't pull out the lining of your handbag, you can use the fabric brush attachment on your vacuum.

3. Clean exterior of leather bag with alcohol free baby wipes.

Tips for Extending the Life of Your Handbag
1. If there is a big stain, don't try to clean it yourself. Take it to a leather expert as soon as possible.

2. If your handbag does not have "feet" on the bottom, you can have them added by a leather-care expert. Feet protect the bottom of the bag from scratches and dirt.

Tips for Keeping the Interior Clean

1. Never put a pen in your purse without a cap on it.

2. Keep makeup in a separate makeup bag.

Tips for Handbag Storage

1. Handbags can be hung on a hook for a few days, but any longer puts too much strain on the straps.

2. Fill handbags loosely with balls of tissue paper to help keep the shape; stiff bags don't need this.

3. Put handbag in the storage bag it came with. If it didn't come with a roomy drawstring sack then make one out of cotton or use a pillow case.

4. Ideally, handbags would be stored in cubbies built into your closet, but you can also store them in baskets or bins made of plastic-coated wire. Stand them upright or lay them down and don't crowd them. They need to breathe, so don't put a tight-fitting lid on.

 

Investment Handbags

If you're the type to put a lot of thought and care into the bag you sling over your shoulder, carry in the crook of your elbow, or tote around as a clutch, you'll want to read up on our top 16 "investment handbags." From a Derek Lam hobo that elevates everything to a bright-red Calvin Klein flight bag for the stylish trendsetter to a delicate Kotur Wallace purse with a gold-plated brass frame, we've got a handbag for everyone right here

 

Handmade Clutches and Handbags

Are you more of the DIY handbag type? These projects are anything but amateuer. Love to sew? We've got a bunch of bags that are right up your alley. Never picked up a needle and thread? We've got no-sew options that are just as chic. Click here for our gallery of DIY handbags and clutches.

 

Special Thanks
Thank you to Bag, Borrow, or Steal and Blueprint for the handbag fashion show, and Calvin Klein for supplying our studio audience with a Calvin Klein clutch.

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