Why now is the best time to give your handbags, shoes and belts the attention they need

Pretty woman wearing sunglasses and bag on his shoulder

Have you gone through all your yoga pants, rearranged your wardrobe, cleaned out the clutter and recycled the old pile? Have you put away your winter sweaters and pulled out your summer loungewear? If the answer is yes, now is the time to make headway with those tangled accessories, because that tic-tac rolling around at the bottom of your purse needs a new home. If you’ve committed to a complete cleanse, reorganising and storing, there’s no reason to overlook the accessories shelf. With great purchases, comes great responsibility. Here’s every question answered.

How can I disinfect and sanitise my handbag?
Since we carry our bags on a daily basis, they are often a hotbed of bacteria. Use a sanitising wipe and pat it clean, making sure to be gentle while rubbing the outer surfaces. Don’t forget to keep your bags in a cloth dust bag to protect and increase the their lifespan.

How should I protect my handbags from getting damp in storage?
If by any chance your handbag has gotten wet, we recommend cleaning it gently with a lint-free cloth and let it air out in the open for about 24 hours. Notice how all bags generally come with a small sachet of silica gel? Well, their purpose is to absorb excess moisture to avoid this situation and hence, must be left inside in the piece while in use as well.

How can I prevent my bags from losing shape?
Stuffing your bag helps maintain their shape and makes sure it remains in good condition. While filling your bag, always be sure to not overstuff your bag as it might come in the way of your zipper, causing it to separate and you’ll end up with a zipper with mismatched teeth.

What are some overall tips to maintain my handbags?
Accessories and fashion designer Sonal Verma of Rara Avis give us expert tips on ways to maintain your prized possessions. “It’s very important to keep leather away from extreme cases of dampness and heat.” She recommends holding on to the boxes and storing the accessories in dust bags that come with the packaging. “Keeping your bags stuffed is always a great option, making sure not to keep them stored one over the other. Additionally the trimming of a bag is a very tricky part which often melts in summer, resulting in colour fastness onto your clothes. Hence, make sure to air dry your bags if using them after long periods of time,” Verma explains.

How do I care for my embellished bags?
The designer points out that embellished bags need to be stored in a way they don’t brush against any surface, especially with other embroidered garments. Another point to remember is that it’s important to keep your embellished accessories away from perfume or any fumes which could lead to discolouration. Every now and then, they need to be aired as the stones and beads can get tarnished.

How can I extend the lifetime of my shoes giving them minimum risk and maximum usage?
Ruchi Sally, managing director of Melissa shoes, India, has a couple of great hacks on how to extend the lifespan of your shoes: “Opt for plain tissue instead of a newspaper to stuff the shoes when you are storing it for long or short term; it’s absorbent and will protect the material from deteriorating. Like paper, muslin is an excellent alternative that wicks away residual moisture, and it also protects metal buckles and delicate sequins from scratches, so if you are storing the boots for long term, use unbleached muslin fabric. Cleaning the shoes is basic hygiene that one needs to follow regularly. Add a package of silica gel to the shoe storage container or cabinet, or choose fragrant gel shoes to remove dampness in summer climate conditions. For brightly coloured shoes, ensure to keep it out of direct sunlight that could bleach them naturally.”

How should I store my shoes?
When storing your shoes, it is very important to make sure that they are kept in dark areas that are devoid of sunlight and humidity—this will help them retain their colour and shape. It is also extremely important to keep them in their original shoe bags and boxes.

What about my belts?
Rolling your belt and keeping them stored in a drawer might cause them to crease and become bent out of shape. It is better to keep your belts hung on a clothes hanger so that the leather can breathe and avoid getting creased.

How do I clean my leather belts?
You can clean your leather belt by wiping it down with a lukewarm washcloth. Make sure that the cloth is not very damp as it can cause damage to the belt, if exposed heavily to water. Dry your belt, immediately after. Cleaning your belt with a leather conditioner is another fool-proof solution to protect them from bacteria. If you do not have a leather conditioner, worry not—olive oil works as a perfect replacement.