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How to store your handbags so they actually last for years

There are women out there who would never think of dropping their handbags on the floor next to them at a restaurant; who take great care when polishing off even a droplet of coffee from a cream leather tote (water? For shame! They don’t leave home without travel-size leather moisturizer products), and who manage to make their beloved, expensive handbags last decades. When you consider the investment you make when purchasing a quality bag, it doesn’t make sense not to treat it like a precious heirloom you plan on passing down to your granddaughter.

But some of us simply have no clue how to store or treat our bags so that they stand the test of time (and rain. And dusty office floors).

“Just like shoes, bags should be kept organized and protected,” says Fashion Connoisseur Diana Mollica, owner of Swag Boutique. “Obviously it depends on your closet size. But, big or small, there are easy and affordable tips to protect your go-to pieces.” Mollica gives us six tips on how to properly care for your favorite bag styles so that they look great for years.

1. Bags are a purse’s BFF — wait, what?

“Most bags come with a storage pouch — if not, I recommend buying clear acrylic shoe boxes for smaller bags or a PEVA8 Pocket Handbag file,” Mollica says. “If room permits you can store the boxes on top of your closet, on top of the rod. Ziploc bags also make a great protector and come in every size. I also believe to keep a bag’s shape and structure, stuff them with tissue paper or even those extra grocery bags that we all save under the sink.”

2. Scotchguard fabric bags

Treat your favorite fabric bag the way you would a beloved couch or pair of shoes. “I like to Scotchguard fabric bags,” Mollica says. “Of course test a small spot on the bottom of bag first. I would also store it in a pouch, bag or box.” Scotchguard works as an invisible protective layer that repels and blocks stains — and it works wonders on cotton, linen, silk and wool.

More: 6 handbags you can carry in the rain or snow

3. Store seasonal bags; don’t stuff them in a closet

Any seasonal item needs to be properly stored during the long months it won’t be in use so that you can simply take it out of storage on the first warm day of the year and not spend hours getting it back into fighting shape. “I like to stuff seasonal bags like straw totes with tissue/bags and store them upright to remain their rigid form during the winter,” Mollica says. “If necessary, I wipe them with a baby wipe for spot cleaning.”

4. Microfiber and other creative cleaners

Think outside the box when it comes to cleaning your bags, particularly those made of materials like acrylic. “Wipe with microfiber cloth to remove smudges or fingerprints,” Mollica says. “If it’s soiled, a light detergent with water will work.”

5. Treat suede with extreme care

There’s nothing worse than leaving your house on a sunny morning with your gorgeous suede fringe messenger bag, only to find it raining cats and dogs by the time the day is over. Water is a suede item’s worst nightmare — and it’s crucial you treat it differently from other handbags. “Like suede shoes or UGGS, I insist on using a suede protector spray on suede bags so you can avoid letting water, rain or oil ruin your suede,” Mollica says. “A shoemaker is also a great source for repairing or stain protecting bags. I also recommend buying a suede brush or using a nail brush for any mishaps. Since suede is a very soft fabric, I would stuff it and cover when not in use.”

More: 14 accessories inspired by fast food

6. Prevent gym/diaper bags from becoming smelly

To keep your gym bag as fresh as possible, Mollica recommends placing your spin shoes, towels and ear buds inside a plastic bag before placing them in the gym bag to avoid transferring bothersome odors to the bag. Always check labels for instructions like “machine washable on gentle cycle and then hang to dry” but those instructions will differ depending on your bag’s fabric. “I also recommend spraying with a Lysol-type antibacterial spray,” Mollica says.

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