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How to store leather bags and prevent mold

You’ve just bought a nice bag to appreciate and the last thing you want is a moldy bag, right?

Let’s show you how to keep it mold-free. 

As a general rule, keep your leather bags dry and in a dust-proof breathable bag with humidity no greater than 60%. A temperature-controlled dry cabinet set to 23C (75F) is ideal since mold won’t grow at this temperature. Clean inside and out, dry thoroughly, and pack in soft cloth breathable bags.

Keep Your Leather Bags Dry No Matter What!

If your bag is genuine leather, especially veg-tanned leather you want to keep it dry and free of rain, spills, and moisture. The best quality natural leathers don’t like water and can stain and leave watermarks. That’s because they are left relatively free of oils, chemicals, and waxes to let the natural textures and oils remain and develop a patina over time. 

The Italian veg-tanned leathers are processed with only plant-based dyes and oils and they are colored throughout the layers for a deep rich earthly color. Many people say these types of leathers are “alive” and “breathing”, however, that’s not really the case. Your leather is just not coated and the pores of the natural calf skin or “hides” are left free of chemicals and not blocked or covered. 

Light Leather Purse Mold

It’s especially important for these types of handbags to remain clean and dry so mold doesn’t grow on the surface. Molds left long enough can stain the outer and inner layers of your bag, so it’s critical you check often and use the proper storage techniques to pack them. 

Prepare Your Purses for Storage, On the Inside   

If you plan to store your bag for a longer period of time, then you need to prepare them by first emptying all the contents inside. Please check every pocket, you might have left something important or organic, which attracts moisture, critters, and mold! Are your liners fabric or just leather? 

If your purse doesn’t have a liner then it’s easier to handle. The best way to get all the debris from your pure is to use a vacuum to clean out all the folds and pockets. Use the thin crevice tool to get into the tight spots. Now use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the inside. 

If your handbag has a fabric or cloth liner, then you have a few options. You can vacuum and then wipe down with a damp cloth or do a deep clean. If you want to see what I mean you can check out the video below where someone uses a foam cleaner like Blue Coral. She sprays it down, let’s it soak, and then wipes it with a damp rag, and then lets it dry. 

After either of these processes, you must thoroughly dry the inner parts of the bag to make sure there isn’t a hint of moisture, because you will store it for a while, and you don’t want mold growing. Put it in front of a fan on a medium speed until dry. Leave all the zippers open for optimal airflow. 

Brush Off Outer Surfaces of Handbag

Next, you can get the outer surface ready by giving it a good brushing. This is to remove all the dust and other particles that may have been stuck on your handbag. Veg tan and chrome tan leathers, as well as fabrics, can use horsehair-type brushes. Check out some brush kits like these we have selected that come in some handy sizes.

Once you have brushed off the surfaces, you might use a special rubber leather cleaning eraser on some tough stains. This kind of eraser will gently remove some stains without abrasing the leather surface. You don’t want to leave any debris or organic substances on the outer surface of the handbags that attract moisture and promote mold and fungus growth.

Clean Light-Colored Damp Cloths for Wiping

All you need to clean veg-tanned and chrome-tanned leathers is a light-colored damp cloth. As we mentioned before, microfiber cloths do the best job, and don’t let them be too damp. With fine leathers, you don’t need to use any special cleaners. The leading luxury purse brand, Louis Vuitton doesn’t suggest you use any chemicals. 

Louis Vuitton’s website writes that “Cleaning with any solvents or chemicals is not recommended.” “These chemicals can compromise the quality and integrity of the leather as it wears in time.”

It’s the same recommendation for vachetta or calfskin leathers. We also recommend only damp clothes for our Marcello bags as well. If you care for your bag well you won’t need to risk using any chemicals or cleans that risk clogging pores or causing the dyes to bleed or discolor. Keep the surfaces clean and they won’t promote mold growth. 

Gucci and Bottega Veneta don’t even list any care instructions. They just expect you will bring it back to them for cleaning and they surely use proprietary chemical sand cleaners. But many of their products don’t use real leather but PVC coated canvas or other types of faux leather. These types can be easily cleaned but they prefer you go back to them for their expensive cleaning services. 

Mainstream Purses Can be Easily Cleaned Before Storage

These mainstream purses like Coach and Michael Kors are mainly made of easy-to-clean materials. Few use genuine veg tan natural leathers so the cleaning and prevention of mold growth are fairly easy for those types of purses. Coach and Michael Kors also list leather care products and moisturizers on their website for purchase. 

Coach “We recommend that you use only Coach Leather Cleaner on your Coach leather products, as other cleaners may contain solvents that can discolor or damage our leathers.”

Those types of purse materials are made to resist water and thereby will likely have less chance of mold growth. But you can see from the below photos that a Michael Kors leather purse can still get mold if not kept dry. So once you finish cleaning the surface, pat them dry and place them under a fan to dry thoroughly. 

Clean Hardware and Wrap For Preventing Marks During Storage

The hardware should also be cleaned and that includes straps, chains, d-rings and clasps, locks, or any brass parts. Give them a good clean and you should then wrap them with tissue or some soft material so they don’t rub on the leather and cause depressions or discoloration. You can see below a purse that sat stored too long without any wrapping on the hardware and it left a permanent mark on the leather. 

Hardware Damaged Leather

Care Instructions by Major Brands for Leather Parts

Louis VuittonGucciCoachMichael KorsBottega VenetaTory Burch
Use cleaner?NoNo dataCoach cleanerMichael Kors cleanerNo dataNo data
MoisturizerNoNo dataCoachMichael Kors productNo dataNo data
Brush it?No mentionNo dataNoNo dataNo dataNo data
Wipe damp cloth?YesNo dataYesNo dataNo dataNo data
Use fan?Not recommendedNo dataNo dataNo dataNo dataNo data
Store in a dry cabinet?YesNo dataNo dataNo dataNo dataNo data

Pack Handbags and Purse in Soft Covering

The final step for leather purses is easy and you just stuff them with soft cloth towels or acid-free tissue to keep the shape of your bag. Leather is soft and if left in one position too long, it will become creased. If you don’t like a floppy purse, you can check out our helpful article about what to do. 

If you have added any purse inserts or organizers then remove them also unless you feel they will keep them upright. Now you are ready to pack your purse neatly into a satin or non-woven dust-free bag. We prefer soft light-colored materials to protect your purses from any scratches while being stored. 

If you’re going to store them for a short period then you might even try one of these clear-type bags to store your purse. They are handy and can store your handbags for easy selection when needed. 

Store Purses in Dry Cabinet-Best Method

If you want to store your purse in the most secure location for not to get mold, store them in an electronic dry cabinet. These are purpose-built containers much like a little refrigerator. They are reliable and mainly used for storing cameras, lenses, and other sensitive electronics that people want to keep humidity free. 

The climate control of these types of cabinets keeps the content dry around an (RH) relative humidity from 25-55%. At this RH mold won’t grow and your purses will be safe from damage that mold can bring.

Store in Closets with Airflow and Air Conditioning

The next best place you can store your valuable leather handbags is in a closet with adequate airflow and air conditioning. The airflow is needed because mold doesn’t grow well in ventilated areas. They prefer stagnant damp air. It’s also best if you can monitor the humidity in the area and keep it below 70% RH. The lower the better and the room temperature should also be in the range of 75F or 23C.

Of course, this is ideal and may not always be possible, we get it. But if you want to keep your leather purses safe and mold-free store them as we suggest for the best results.