PATENT BAGS: They are not easy to clean. Many patent bags are structured, so be careful where you store your bag. They lose their form easily, oftentimes permanently. The stains on them are the toughest to remove, esp. penmarks are really impossible to erase. They also get discolored when you store them on places with direct light. If in case you accidentally mark your bag with a pen, use baby wipes to clean immediately. Don't wipe it off in different directions coz fresh ink can leave smudges. Just pat it down first to ensure the ink doesn't smear all over before you rub it with wet wipes. Remember that it may not be completely erased, but it could lighten it. And NEVER use acetone.
COATED CANVAS BAGS: These bags are generally the easiest to clean and maintain. They are waterproof or water-resistant. You just have to wipe-off the water droplets with a dry cloth (that easy, right?!) Louis Vuitton, Goyard, and even some Gucci come in coated canvass. To keep them clean, wipe it with a clean damp cloth, carefully avoiding the leather trims. Dry it off with another clean dry cloth. Lighter colored coated canvas bags absorb color transfers from denim or darker colored clothing. So its always prudent to check your bay every so often for stains. Should there be color transfers. lather up a soft sponge with white soap (bath/hand soap will do). Apply soft pressure and clean affected area with the sponge in circular motions. Wipe off suds with another clean, damp cloth. Let it air dry. Repeat as needed.
LEATHER TRIMS: Leather trims on coated canvass are a different matter. For bags that belong to the classic Monogram line of LV, the cowhide (or vachetta) leather trims are very pale when new. This is very sensitive to liquids and can retain water spots, so make sure you wipe your hands clean before you handle your bag. Don't use baby wipes to clean and protect the leather handles. Like our own skin, constant cleaning of the leather can strip away its natural oils, causing it to dry and crack. Occasional wiping the handles and trims with leather moisturizer. Remember to leave it to dry overnight (preferably 10 hrs.) before using it again.
SMOOTH LEATHER BAGS: These bags require more care than pebbled leather bags. They are more prone to scratches and scuff if not properly handled. Interior pockets lined in smooth leather also fall prey to humidity, and end up sticking to each other. Smearing a bit of baby powder on the pocket walls can help prevent the leather from sticking. If you store your bag for a long period put small silicon gel packets inside the bag to help absorb humidity (i really don't throw away this stuff i just leave them inside the bag). As for scratches, it may not seem like a very hygenic thing to do, but there are times when rubbing the area with your index finger (make sure you have short nails) and a little dab of saliva can help clear out the lighter and more superficial scratches. But the deep scratches of heavy scuffing, there is not much you can do except take the bag to the specialist to assess whether the bag can still be restored to its original scar-free state.
PEBBLED LEATHER BAGS: You can use Apple leather cleaner, quite effective enough to clean a layer or two of dirt.
SUEDE BAGS: Suede bags are hard to clean and maintain in humid weather. Once your bag has molds, there is really not much that can be done to remove them. It's always a good idea to spray your bag with a coat of rain/stain protection chemical. Leave it overnight and spray again if its necessary. There are also suede erasers to clear out or lightern scratches and scuff. Erase affected area lightly. Vigorous erasing can damage the leather.
FABRIC BAGS: These kind of bags are dirt magnet but can get protected with a spray or two of Scotch Gard fabric protector to keep it from getting dirt fast. There are also fabric bags that can be washed or dry-cleaned. Ask your local dry cleaners / laundry shops if they can clean the bag without damaging them.
METAL HARDWARE: Metal hardware on your bags is another thing when it comes to cleaning. Because of humidity you may notice that the zipper pull, metal buckles or plates tarnishing. Don't fret coz there is a way tom make them look brand-spanking new again. Silver cleaning agents like Glo metal polisher can get the job done fast and its easy to do. Just wipe it off. For smaller metal links or zipper try using cotton buds dipped in the metal cleaner. Remember to be careful not to rub any of this polisher onto the leather or fabric body of your bag coz it'll stain.
TOP 3 TIPS: In maintaining your bags in good condition
- Always work with a test area on the bag (the bottom corner is a good place to start) and leave that test area to dry overnight to see if the cleaning agent used was effective or not before applying it again throughout the bag.
- Find the time to air out your bags. Take them out of your closets every week or so. This will allow your bags to breathe as well as prevent molds from growing. If you store your bags in enclosed areas, you can also buy the disposable dehumidifiers and place them strategically in the room to absorb humidity that can cause molds to grow.
- Do your research. Bag forums that tackle cleaning issues are always a good way to find out the products that people recommend in cleaning bags.
Hope this tips would help you... all bag lovers, collectors.... who have gazillion of bags. One of the tips i would recommend you can also use hairspray in removing ballpen stain from your bag. I learned this from the show "How clean is your house?" in Lifestyle Channel 52.