Long-term storage can be risky for leather goods and for handbags that need to keep their shape. When you have a leather handbag, the risk is even higher. Here’s a guide to making sure your bag stays in good condition, no matter how long you keep it in storage.
- Clean it thoroughly
- Recondition the leather
- Stuff the bag to help keep its shape
- Use a dust cover or other cloth bag
- Place on the floor, on a box, or on a shelf
- Choose the right facility!
Before storing your handbag, clean it with a damp cloth. Be sure to remove all dirt and dust, as both can be magnets for moisture and mildew. In particular, dirt can contain salts and minerals that cause permanent damage to leather.
Leather is an organic material, and is composed of a lot of water. In a dry storage unit, this water can evaporate without being replaced, drying it out. Dry leather shrinks and cracks. While you should recondition leather to keep the moisture in every year normally, you should also do it right before putting your bag in storage.
For best results, rub or spray a thin layer of conditioner on the surface. Then, wait 30 minutes and polish the leather with a soft rag.
If the bag collapses in storage, then it can develop permanent creases. Avoid this by placing something inside the bag to help keep its shape. Packing foam is a good option, as is bubble wrap. You could also create a form from cardboard.
The one material that you absolutely should not use is newsprint. Newsprint may be cheap and available, but the ink will seep slowly into your bag, causing permanent damage.
Designer bags usually come with dust covers. These are always cloth, not plastic. With a plastic bag, moisture becomes trapped in with the leather and causes mold. The intent is to protect against dust while allowing air freely in and out.
If you do not have a dust cover, use another cloth bag or a pillowcase. Some people also have luck using hatboxes or shoeboxes.
As long as you don’t hang the bag up, you can put it anywhere. The more of the bag that is touching a solid surface, the more support it has, and the less likely it is to stretch.
Leather is fragile and needs care. For best results, choose a climate-controlled storage facility, since extremes in heat and cold can cause damage. Choose a storage facility close enough for you to come and check on your things every few months.