Don’t Panic – First Aid Hints and Tips

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Don’t Panic – First Aid hints and tips for handbag emergencies.

Firstly, these suggestions are based on our experience from many years of dealing with accidental damage and stains that happen to handbags. They cannot be universally guaranteed or used without your accepting that you do so at your own risk  We cannot be held responsible for their success or any consequent effect brought about by their use. No two handbags are identical and it is your responsibility to read and understand the instructions fully before attempting these remedies.

Secondly: Don’t Panic! Calmly read through our suggestions and procedures before starting.

Thirdly: Whatever the incident here are some golden rules for every occasion: Never rub at a stain with anything. Always dab with a clean white paper towel/napkin/kitchen roll. Gentle padding will lift any liquid into the cloth rather than spread it wider over/into the surface. If you see the surface changing, losing colour/dye or beginning to look rough – stop, pad dry and leave alone until you can contact us for further advice.

Coloured napkins etc. should not to be used as they can leak their colour into your leather or fabric, making matters worse for you.

Damp or wet leather and fabric is “weaker”, less rub resistant, than dry, which is why you should never rub a stain because the surface will be damaged and need much more restoration later.

Quick First Aid guide:

Smooth Leather – no nap or velvety feel to it.

Food spills: Remove as much as you can with clean white kitchen towel or napkin. Try to lift the spill away from the surface rather than smear/spread it over a wider area. Use a spoon or blunt edged knife to lift off any lumpy bits. Next, with a moist white paper towel or similar, gently dab any remaining food from the surface, work from the outside toward the centre of the mark, turning the towel to use fresh surface every time. Dry with another pad of paper towel, pad, not rub, leave to dry. If you can, use a hair dryer on a cool setting to dry the affected area, this will help reduce the risk of water marking or tide marking.

Liquids: Use a pad of white paper towel to lift of the excess liquid, do not rub, pad it away. If a mark remains use a moistened paper towel to gently rinse the stain away, alternating with a dry pad to lift the stain/water out, and repeat as necessary. Don’t rub it!  Allow to dry, with a hair dryer if possible, on a cool setting.

Makeup: Lift off any larger bits with an edge of a spoon or blunt knife, try not to spread it across any more of the surface. Try a corner of a moist tissue to see whether you can lift any more of the makeup off the surface. Do not attempt to rub the surface with makeup remover, nail varnish remover or any kind of solvent. Contact us if the stain still remains.

Vomit and urine (cats are often guilty of doing this) should also be dealt with similarly – if you have the stomach for it. Also see the lining section if there is any inside the ‘bag.

Suede or Nubuck leather:

This leather has a nap or “fuzzy” surface that you can feel with your hand, and it changes shade depending on how the nap is moved around.

This leather is very absorbent and is really quite susceptible to spills and stains, particularly from anything greasy.

However, as a first aid remedy – try and remove as much of the spill as you can by using clean white paper towel, a blunt edge spoon of knife can help, if used carefully so as to not damage the surface. If you have been able to remove the worst of the spill by padding with a dry towel you could try using a moist towel to gently pad any residual liquid away – working from the edge to the centre and dry carefully with a cool hairdryer. If the nap has become rather “flat” as a result you can dry brushing it with a soft-bristle brush – a clean toothbrush can be quite useful. Contact us for more specific advice if required.

Fabric First Aid

Fabric: There are so many types of fabric used in handbag making that we are having to be very general and circumspect about what we can advise. The safest way to deal with fabric is to read any instruction or information that came with the bag when you bought it. Failing that try a hidden area of the fabric before using any cleaning method/product – test to see if any of the fabric colour transfers to the cloth, if you do see some, stop and seek professional help.

Silk: If the bag is made from real silk then there is very little that you can do, silk becomes extremely weak when wet, and can be very quickly spoiled by even gentle rubbing, so only ever dab it dry with a folded pad of clean white paper towelling. You will need to get professional help to deal with anything that remains after padding, sorry. Generally, it is recommended to use solvents (“dry” cleaning) to remove greasy stains, which is why we suggest getting in touch with us if you have a silk handbag.

Other fabrics should also be treated gently, removing any excess that you can by use of a blunt edge spoon of knife, dab away any liquid with a pad of dry white paper towel, if you notice any dye that matches the colour of the bag coming out into the paper, stop immediately, otherwise you will leave a pale faded area behind. Seek professional cleaning advice instead. Gently dry fabrics with a cool hair dryer to reduce water/tide marking.


If the lining can be pulled inside-out from the ‘bag then you may be able to rinse this under a cool tap, taking care to keep the outer dry, to remove spilled stuff from within the ‘bag, pat dry with a paper pad and allow to dry with the lining still outside the ‘bag.

Large volumes spilled into the ‘bag, pint of beer, large glass of wine, plates of food etc. Try and empty it as quickly as you can by turning the ‘bag upside down, catching all your valuables before they disappear, spoon or gently scrape any solid stuff out too. Depending on how the lining is attached you may be able to pull the lining out and you might be able to rinse the worst away under a cool tap, being careful not to get the leather parts wet. Dry with clean towel, and inspect for any extra bits you can clean again, pad dry again and leave to dry with the lining still pulled out of the ‘bag itself.

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