A recent incident involving an exploding tube of hand cream and the ivory suede of a favorite spring handbag reminded me that it's been a while here on the blog since we've discussed the care and maintenance of your prized handbag collection. Summer is right around the corner after all, and there are no conditions quite like warm weather conditions to bring about some of the messiest handbag disasters out there. Lipsticks and glosses melt, those tubes of sunscreen always seem to leak, and that ziploc bag containing your lunch sandwich that's leaking mayonnaise all over your bag sure seemed like it was sealed when you left for the office, but now? Not so much.

So let's jump straight in. Because most warm weather handbag messes involve some sort of oil-based product (lipgloss, sunscreen, etc), today's guide will focus primarily on removing oil-based stains.

From Lightweight Suedes & Porous Leathers
The safest way to remove an oil based stain from suede or other porous leathers is to use cornstarch or talcum powder. Pat your chosen powder over the stain and let it sit overnight. In the morning, brush off the powder. It should have absorbed the oil. More than likely you will have to repeat this process over the course of several days for stubborn stains.

From Cloth
It's a pretty well-known trade secret among dry cleaners that dry cleaning solvent is basically chemically the same as lighter fluid. While the smell (and volatility) of lighter fluid may make you think twice about using it, if you have a cloth handbag with a really stubborn oil-based stain, it can be very effective. Always start with a spot test in an inconspicuous area of the bag – lighter fluid can leech color from certain fabrics. Once you've established that your fabric is color-fast, blot the lighter fluid directly onto the stain with a cloth and rub lightly. Once you've done this, let the garment sit for 10 minutes, then throw it in the wash. If possible, wash the garment with hot water.

And of course it should go without saying, if you smoke you should refrain from doing so while you are dousing fabric with lighter fluid. Obviously.