How to care for your Hermès bags

    How to care for your Hermès bags

    "Made by passionate and exacting craftsmen with infinite patience, this piece can last a lifetime if you know how to care for it properly."

    Hermès Paris

    We live in a fast paced world and many things in our everyday lives are not build to last forever. Your Hermès bag is not among those things.

    With the Coronavirus is spreading all over the world however, many people are concerned and take precautions to not get sick. They wash their hands regularly, use hand sanitizers and clean the surfaces around them with alcohol wipes. These things are important and are good ways to keep yourself healthy. What about the bags we use, and especially our Hermès bags?

    Of course we cannot just wash them, like our clothes or wipe them with alcohol wipes, like our desks. Also, hand sanitizer or hand creams might damage exotic leathers, so maybe we should store our more sensitive bags? But how do we do that?

    Hermès bags need special care when cleaning and storing them. With the following tips you can make sure your Hermès bag is a loyal and reliable partner that withstands the test of time and this trying time of a pandemic.

    1 - Clean

    In general, you should inspect and clean your bag on a regular basis. Check every few days if your bag has any scuffs and clean once a month. Once a month is usually enough, as cleaning the bag too often may weaken the leather and lead to tearing.

    After you used your Hermès bag, the first step is to empty it of all its content and dust it. If you have a soft bag, you can turn it inside out, and use a lint roller to give even the hard-to-reach places a thorough clean.

    Should your bag be crafted from hard-pressed, grained leather wipe the exterior softly with a damp paper towel or a baby wipe free of perfume, chlorine, alcohol and that is pH-neutral. Is your bag made from natural or untreated leather, or if it is exotic or suede, then dust the bag with a dry paper towel.

    Don't forget the hardware when cleaning your bag. The hardware can be cleaned with a soft brush and then dried off with a soft cloth.

    If your bag has a serious stain you should react fast and try to clean it off gently with a baby wipe as soon as you notice the stain. If you see that the stain becomes less visible with this technique, very gently rub the area until the stain is gone.

    Another technique recommended, is using hairspray on a cotton bud. Before you use this method, try it on a small inconspicuous patch to see if there might be a bad reaction. Then, spray hairspray on the tip of a cotton bud and gently rub the area where the stain is.

    Should both methods fail or you rather not try to clean the bag yourself, you can always seek the help of a professional.

    Unfortunately, for water marks or spills, there isn't really any home solution. However, as soon as you notice the water mark or spill, wipe away the excess liquid with a dry sponge or cloth. Allow the leather to dry naturally in room temperature, but don't place it on a heater as this causes even more damage. If the stain remains, you should take your bag to an expert.

    Should you notice any odor coming from your handbag, place a container of baking soda inside the bag. At best you should use a large container that covers a wide surface area. Leave the baking soda inside for a few hours at room temperature. The baking soda will absorb the odor. You might need to do this a couple of times until the smell is completely gone.

    If you would like your bag to treat your handbag to an expert cleaning, then Hermès offers a 'spa service' for it.

    2 - Stuff

    Now your bag is clean and empty, you should stuff it, so that it can keep its shape. You can use a variety of things for the stuffing, such as acid-free tissue paper, a small pillow or bubble wrap. Be careful not to overstuff the bag though, as this can lead to distortion.

    You should also wrap exposed hardware, including the zipper pull and buckles, as those could leave imprints on your bag over time.

    3 - Cover

    Hermès bags come with a soft, breathable dust bag, so you can use it to place your bag inside. If you don't have one, you can also use a cotton pillow case in neutral colors. Be careful to not use a colorful pillow case as it could transfer its color to the bag.
    The cover also should be large enough so that your handbag doesn't warp when it's stored.

    You can also use Twillys, a thin Hermès scarf, and wrap it around the handles to keep them clean. These are especially good for ostrich skin bags, because this leather is more porous and the handles can discolor more easily.

    4 - Separate

    Be careful to not let the hardware of one bag touch another bag, because it could leave a mark. Furthermore, don't leave your patent leather bag touching anything else, because it will cause a color transfer from the patent leather to whatever is next to it.

    5 - Store

    The way you are storing your Hermès handbag when you are not using it, is essential for its lifespan and appearance. If you are a person who uses their handbag only for special occasions, then your Hermès bag will spend most of its life neatly tucked away in your closet. Even people who use their bags often, should store them the right way overnight.

    If you really plan on storing your bag for a prolonged period of time, you should consider using a fine leather conditioner to help it protect your bag from dry rot. Be extremely careful here and make sure that the conditioner is designed specifically for the leather on your bag. You should also remove any excess conditioner immediately before storing.

    Store your bag always at room temperature and avoid exposing your bag to extreme heat or cold, as this could negatively influence the leather quality. Especially crocodile leather is extremely susceptible to heat and extreme cold, causing fissures and wrinkles. It is best to keep your bag away from radiators and other forms of heat.  

    Before you store your bag, especially for a long period of time, you should let it air for a couple of hours. After that, store it in an area that is well-ventilated and away from direct sunlight. Sunlight and even moonlight can lead to fading. Direct solar irradiation can dry out the leather and cause cracking or fissures.

    If you still have it, you should store your bag in its original box. If you don't have the box, then you can use another box, should you have one. Just make sure that it is not airtight, as that will eliminate the moisture in the air and lead to a dry, cracked bag. Instead, leave the lid of the box open so the bag can breathe.
    Alternatively, you can line it with your other bags on a shelf in your closet.
    If the shelf is not high enough, you should not let the handles of the bag be pressed down. In this case, just lie your bag flat down.
    Refrain from hanging your Hermès bag from its handles, as this will distort their shape.

    To keep track of your Hermès bags you could stick a note with the name of the bag on the box or dust bag. Then you won't have to search through all boxes to find the one handbag you want to use.

    6 - Prevention

    Prevention is the best way to keep you Hermès bag in perfect condition. Inspect and be conscious of where you put your Hermès bag to rest.
    If you are using it, make sure that items in your bag are capped to prevent spillage and avoid placing sharp or pointy objects in it.

    Many people wear their bag with jeans, which can cause the bag to get scratches or scuff. If you are wearing jeans while carrying a Hermès bag, hold it away from the jeans material, so that it can't rub against it.

    You should also be aware what leather your bag is made of, as many high-quality and exotic skins present on Hermès bags are not water resistant. So keeping your bag out of the rain entirely is highly recommended, even if the leather is water resistant.

    You also should avoid touching the exterior of your bag with traces of cosmetics, lotions or water on your fingers.

    8 - Rain Season and Humid Climate

    As mentioned earlier, you should avoid rain and any kind of water to keep your Hermès bag in perfect condition. If you live in a very humid area or in a country that experiences monsoon seasons, avoiding rain might not be so easy.
    If you come into a rain storm, use the rain cover Hermès provides, should you have it. If you don't have one and happen to come into a rain shower, here is what you can do:

    Don't put your bag away as soon as you come from outside. You can keep the bag under a ceiling fan for a few hours, if you have one, to air out the bag. If not, as mentioned above, you can wipe away the excess water with a dry sponge or cloth.
    As explained before, don't put your bag in contact with direct sunlight or a heater.

    You could use a high-quality leather polish, which is a safeguard from moisture and restores the balance of natural oils. Moreover, it enhances the leather's natural shine and extends the life of the bag. Just make sure, that you use a leather polish that is made for the leather type on your bag.

    Mold and mildew are more common to build in very humid climate, especially the porous surface of leather is susceptible to mildew buildup. So you should think about investing in a dehumidifier to keep your Hermès bag in pristine condition.

    As you can see, your Hermès bag can be a very sensitive object, that needs your care and attention. The way you store and treat your bag determines its well-being and longevity.
    Find a good place to store your bag, check and clean it regularly and you will preserve your piece of luxury from the dangers of everyday life.