How to Care for Your Cowhide Bag

An authentic cowhide bag is an investment that you want to treasure for years to come, and at Holy Cow Couture, we design all of our handcrafted bags for superior style, function, and durability. Every cowhide wallet, tote, bagpack, or purse in our online collection is one-of-a-kind and built to last!

However, there are a few things you can do to take care of your bag to maintain its quality and extend its lifetime. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the basics of cowhide leather maintenance so you can enjoy your designer leather handbag for many years to come.

How to Store a Cowhide Bag

First things first: how do you store your bag when not in use? Although you don’t have to overthink it, we do have a few tips to help you make sure you don’t accidentally damage your leather in long-term or short-term storage:

— Make sure it’s cool and dry. 
Moisture may eventually dry out the leather and cause it to crack. We recommend storing it in the open air or inside a cotton dust bag. Never store your bag in plastic; leather needs to breathe!

— Keep it out of the sun. 
Don’t leave your bag where it may be exposed to direct sunlight, since UV rays may cause fading.

— Don’t fold it. 
Avoid pressing your bag underneath or between heavy items that may fold or bend it out of shape. Although creases in cowhide leather will typically disappear within a few days of unfolding, it’s best to avoid creasing it in the first place.

— Tuck the strap inside. 
This will help to protect both the bag and the strap from scratching, especially if your bag has any hard embellishments.

Avoid hanging it. 
Extend the life of your straps or handles by giving them a break when not in use.

Stuff it. 
To maintain the shape of your bag for as long as possible, fill it with bubble wrap, crumpled butter paper, or some other filling material. Just avoid newspaper — the ink could rub off on the interior.

    How to Clean a Cowhide Bag

    One of the most important aspects of cowhide maintenance is keeping your bag clean. Dust, dirt, and other debris can eventually damage the fibrous surface of the leather, causing it to become brittle and prone to cracking. Proper cleaning and conditioning helps keep your leather healthy and happy!

    Many of our designer leather handbags are crafted with both regular cowhide leather and hair-on cowhide leather, which call for slightly different cleaning processes.

    care instructions for a holy cow couture leather cowhide bag

    How to Clean Regular Cowhide Leather

    What you need:
    — A soft brush or toothbrush
    — Water
    — Mild soap like saddle soap or diluted dish soap
    — Two or three clean, dry cloths

      Step One: Gently brush the leather with a soft brush to remove dirt and dust.

      Step Two: Fill two bowls with one cup of warm water each. One bowl will be for cleaning, and the other for rinsing.

      In the cleaning bowl, mix ½ teaspoon of dish soap until you get a sudsy solution, then dunk in one of your cloths. Alternatively, if you are using saddle soap, wet one of your cloths and work saddle soap onto it until you get a light lather. It’s important to only use mild soaps. Never use ammonia or bleach-based cleaners, since they could damage the leather’s surface.

      Step Three: Squeeze excess water out of the cloth and begin gently scrubbing the leather in a circular motion, working small sections at a time. Use only as much water as is needed. Avoid scrubbing the whole bag with soap before rinsing — clean and rinse one piece at a time.

      Step Four: Squeeze out the dirtied cloth and dip it into the rinsing bowl, then gently remove all soap and suds from that section of leather. Make sure to use a clean side of the cloth or a new cloth each time you rinse, since dirty water or suds may stain leather.

      Step Five: Once each section of the bag has been cleaned and rinsed, make sure to wipe away as much moisture as possible before leaving it out to dry! Set the leather outside under a covered area (out of direct sunlight!) or in another well-ventilated place. As tempting as it is, don’t try to speed up the process with your hair dryer! To avoid damage, let your leather air dry.

      How to Clean Hair-on-Hide Leather

      What you need:
      — A vacuum with a brush attachment and/or a wire brush
      — Water
      — Mild soap like saddle soap or diluted dish soap
      — Two or three clean, dry cloths

        Step One: Use a shop vacuum, handheld vacuum, a vacuum with a hard floor setting, or a vacuum with a handheld brush attachment to remove surface dirt and dust. Avoid using a vacuum with rotating brushes that could damage the hair, and always vacuum in the direction of the hair growth. You can also use a wire brush to gently brush out the hair and dislodge any dirt or debris.

        Step Two: Combine one cup of warm water with ½ tsp of dish soap in a bowl. Mix until soapy. Never use harsh soaps or cleaning solutions on hair-on-hide leather.

        Step Three: Dip a clean cloth into the soapy water and squeeze out the excess. Use as little water as possible, since excessive or dirty water could stain your cowhide. Gently blot the cowhide with the cloth — don’t rub or scrub, just lightly dab. If you’re dealing with a muddy or crusty section, you can dampen it with your cloth and then use your wire brush or a fine-toothed comb to gently remove the debris. If there’s dirt at the base of the cow hairs, you can very gently rub the leather.

        Step Four: As your cloth dries, dip it back into the soapy solution, squeeze it out, and go back to dabbing. Use a clean section of the cloth or a new cloth each time you dip it back in, and only work on small sections of the bag at a time.

        Once all the leather has been cleaned, prepare a new bowl of plain warm water for rinsing. Use this to blot with a clean cloth until you’ve removed all soap residue from the cowhide.

        Step Five: When you’re satisfied that your bag is fully cleaned and rinsed, let it air dry in a well-ventilated area. Don’t leave it in direct sunlight or try to speed up the process with blow dryers, as this can damage the leather.

        Once the cowhide is dry, you can use a soft brush to gently comb out the hair and remove any clumping.

        How to Use Leather Conditioner

        Leather is prone to becoming brittle when it gets too dry, so leather conditioner is an important part of any care routine. It’s best to apply right after cleaning, before the bag is completely dried out. When the leather is nearly dry, use a teaspoon of leather conditioner per every square foot of surface area and work it into the leather until it’s evenly spread. If you can see visual traces or residue from the conditioner, then you are using too much!

        Let the conditioner absorb for at least an hour before using or storing your bag.

        Do not use leather conditioner on hair-on-hide surfaces.

        Ongoing Cowhide Leather Maintenance

        Lastly, we have a few tips on ongoing maintenance. If you want to keep your leather in the best shape possible, there are a few things you can do for upkeep!

        For a handmade designer bag like ours, the ideal maintenance routine includes:

        — A quick dusting after every use to get rid of dirt and debris
        — A wipe down with water every month (no soap)
        — Conditioning one to three times a year
        — Spot cleaning on an as-needed basis
        — Full cleaning with soap only when absolutely necessary

          Find a Leather Bag to Love

          Now that you know how to clean and care for cowhide leather, put your skills to use with a designer leather handbag from Holy Cow Couture! Every piece in our collection is one-of-a-kind and handcrafted from sustainable leather in the United States, and we offer a wide range of styles to match every taste. Shop our online store today to find your new favorite fashion!

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