Even though handbags play an important role in our daily lives, many people fail to store them correctly—whether at home between uses or in a self-storage unit for long-term storage.

If the number of your handbags has grown from just a few to a full blown purse collection, you’ll need to take some intentional steps to organize and store your purses in a space-saving manner. When stored thoughtfully, your designer handbags will last for many years to come.

Clean Your Handbags

It’s fine to keep a memento or two in your purse, but that shouldn’t include crumbs from your last birthday cake or residue from Saturday night’s Jell-O shots. Cleaning before storage is a standard rule, but it’s especially important for purses, which tend to accumulate more dirt, grime and food particles than other accessories.

To clean your purses, use a lint brush to clear out the interior. Gently wash the exterior with a soft cloth, mild soap and water. A little bit goes a long way. Dry completely before storing. Use a conditioner for leather purses.

Sit Them Upright

Whether you’re keeping purses on a closet shelf or in a storage unit, it’s usually best to store them upright.

“If you don’t place them upright, they tend to get distorted,” said Karen Eschebach, founder and owner of Clever Container.

Clutches are one of the exceptions, and should be laid on their sides during storage. Use your best judgment – or follow the store’s lead – for storing bags with special shapes.

Protect the Straps

If you’re short on storage space you may be tempted to hang up your purses by their straps. While this is fine for a few days at a time, hanging up purses for longer periods can cause the straps to stretch out and weaken. Your best bet is to neatly roll up each strap and – if it’s detachable – store it inside the purse.

Stuff Them

Stores don’t just fill new bags with tissue paper so you’ll have a hard time finding the price tag. When a purse is full it’s more likely to maintain its original shape.

Eschebach recommends stuffing your purses with the same type of tissue paper that many retailers use to wrap clothing. Sheets of plastic or bubble wrap are also good options.

Just don’t use newspaper print, warned Eschebach, who pointed out that the ink can rub off on your purse and your fingers.

Cover Them Up

Purses don’t have the advantage of being able to go through the washer and dryer, so dust accumulation is a problem. To keep dust at bay Eschebach recommended storage solutions that keep your purses covered, like a handbag cubby or a plastic tote.

Many pricier purses come with dust bags, so you should store each purse in its dust bag if you still have it. If not, Eschebach suggested making your own, which she says is easy enough if you’re handy with a sewing machine. A quick and easy alternative is to use pillowcases to protest your purses from dust.

Handbag Storage Ideas For the Home

As for storing handbags at home as part of your regular rotation, you’ll need to carve out a dedicated part of your closet for purse storage. Below are few different methods below:

  • Closet shelf: A closet shelf is an ideal spot for storing your purses. Vertical shelf dividers can be used to provide a neat and tidy look.
  • Hanging purse organizer: This type of handbag organizer is made from cloth or plastic and hangs from your closet rod. They have multiple pockets that you can easily slide your purse in and out of providing a smart way to store purses in a walk-in closet for quick access. This one from Amazon is less than $20 and holds 10 purses and is made of dust-resistant breathable material.
  • Plastic tote: Simply stash your purses in a single layer inside a plastic tote. Don’t pile them on top of each other. You can place the tote on the floor of your closet, or even under your bed. Put a silica gel packet or two inside the bin to help absorb ambient moisture from the air.
  • Coat rack: Repurposing a coat rack just for your purses is a good idea for short term storage, but in time this method could wreck havoc on your straps!

Longterm Purse Storage

If you need to put your purse collection into a storage unit for a long period of time, you should definitely use climate-controlled self-storage. This is particularly true if you live an extremely hot climate. Extreme temperatures can damage materials such as leather or glue, even if you have carefully packed your handbags in storage bins. Climate control will also reduce humidity, and make the occurrence of mold or mildew much less likely.

It is also advisable to keep your purses off of the floor, whether they are in plastic bins or cardboard boxes (not recommended). In the unlikely event of flooding, you’ll want your precious handbags as high up as possible. Either place them on top of other, more replaceable, items, or use some sort of portable shelving such as a bookcase.

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