Handle leather handbags with clean hands. Leather bags are susceptible to absorbing grease and oils. Wipe the surface of a leather tote with a damp white cotton cloth, but be careful not to use too much water, because leather takes time to dry.
Apply a cleaner especially made for leather. This "soft soap" is applied using a circular motion and wiped off with a slightly damp cloth so as not to clog the pores of the fabric. Applying this soap one or two times a year should keep your leather handbag clean.
Moisturize your bag with a leather conditioner to keep it supple. Do not use a conditioner on patent leather purses.
Remove stains as soon as you notice them. Organic stains from food or blood can often be removed with chalk powder. Crush white chalk, let it sit on the stain overnight and dust it off with a clean cloth.
Stuff your unused bag with bubble wrap to restore and hold its shape. Store your leather purse in a dust bag or natural-fabric pillowcase. You can wrap the chrome or metallic parts -- a chain handle, for example -- in clean, acid-free tissue paper. If you've just cleaned the bag, allow it to air dry completely before storage. If you're storing long-term, ease open the buckles and straps so impressions are released. This helps to avoid rubbing or permanent creases in unwanted areas.
Clean suede bags with a suede brush. A clean pink eraser can remove small spots from leather totes.
Think about using a leather-specific protective spray for brushed or finished leather if you use your bag frequently. Test this product first in an inconspicuous area to see if the finish darkens.
Keep cosmetics inside a pouch. Cap all pens and anything that leaks. Get a small pencil case to protect the leather and keep small items from spilling or damaging the fabric.
White bags will yellow or naturally darken with age.
Avoid cleaning products with alcohol, turpentine or other mineral spirits as they will discolour and dry out leather.
Never allow water to soak into your bag. If the bag gets wet, do not use a hair dryer on it. Instead, absorb as much water as possible with a thick microfiber hand towel and allow the bag to air dry. Then, condition it again and store it.
Take extra special care of your bag at hair salons and keep it away from colouring solutions, hair sprays and other hair products.
Waxes or silicone products clog up leather pores and may render them unable to be cleaned in the future.
This list is not all inclusive and only provides warnings for some of the most common improper practices used to clean jewelry.
To care for your jewelry and keep it clean and ready to wear, gently wipe off excess make-up and skin oils after each wearing. Use a nub free, 100% cotton cloth and gently wipe the piece clean using only the soft pads of your fingers. Store in jeweler's tissue or a soft bag.
To remove fingerprints, light grease or dirt, add a small amount of mild liquid soap to a half cup of warm water, soak 2-3 minutes, rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry completely before storing in an air tight plastic bag.
Be very careful when using any soaking method to clean jewelry that has soft stones such as amber, lapis lazuli, or turquoise. Extended soaking in any solution may harm the polish on the stone. Never use chlorine bleach to clean jewelry.
To remove excessive tarnish, polish with a 100% cotton cloth and a good nonabrasive metal cleaner. Be sure to remove any remnants of the cleaner from gemstones and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Never use toothpaste.
When caring for your jewelry, never use anything but 100% cotton as a polishing cloth since paper, polyester, and coarse fabrics often contain wood fibers or synthetics. These materials may impart fine scratches in the metal, especially on sterling silver.
Always remove your rings and fine jewelry before using any product that contains bleach. Bleach can cause gold and other metal alloys to breakdown leaving the metal irreparably damaged. This includes swimming pools and bathing in hot tubs as chlorine products are added to prevent bacteria growth.
If you normally use specially purchased jeweler's cloths to keep your jewelry clean and shiny, be sure to use fresh cloths since the dirt and grit left on the cloth from a previous use will now leave scrapes and pits in the piece you are trying to clean and polish.
Never use toothpaste or other abrasives to clean metal or stones. You will find countless websites that recommend toothpaste as a cleaner, but this is not an accepted practice by fine jewelers. Although the abrasives in toothpaste are great for your teeth, they can damage the surface of the metal requiring the skill of a professional to buff and refinish. Toothpaste will also scuff the surface on amber, lapis, turquoise and other soft stones resulting in the fine polish which was produced by the skilled lapidary to be permanently marred.
Ultrasonic cleaners are great for cleaning some jewelry but they can damage many gemstones and the chemicals are not recommended for pearls and many other fine stones. Repeated use can also loosen the settings and you could lose your precious gems.
Besides chlorine bleach, denatured alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and ammonia can cause harm. These chemicals can dull or even pit the surface on softer gemstones. Petroleum based products can actually "melt" amber if allowed to remain on the stone and they can do significant damage to pearls.
Pearls. Protect from scratches; perfumes and household chemicals which can wear away the nacre or cause color change.
Soft stones like lapis, malachite, turquoise, amber and opals can easily be scratched by pin stems and the edges of other jewelry. Protect pieces with these gemstones by wrapping them in jeweler's tissue and storing separately.