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The Care of Suede and Other Magical Creatures

By Amalah

Since you are the cross between Coach super-goddess and generally helpful person, I figured you were the right person to which to send this inquiry. PLEASE please help, as I really don’t want my first foray into the Coach purse world to scar me from future purchases. Please?
So. For Christmas I received this absolutely stunning Coach Purse* from my husband, who I think did a spectacular job of picking it out, since I honestly have to stop myself from overloading on the sequins and he picked out one that has beads but does not make me look like the old lady I am sure to become, the one who wears sequined Christmas sweaters with sparkles in fuchsia and teal in diamond patterns. Then we went to LA for the New Year’s (which sounds exciting but really was not, as it was for a debate tournament with a bunch of college kids) and I made the mistake of dancing down the beach in Santa Monica holding my purse, and the suede on the bottom got a little dirty. ALSO, it sustained a couple of plane flights, and 2-3 of the little beads on the top got a little chipped. THEN, I spilled Diet Dr. Pepper in it on the way back from getting food for said ungrateful college kids, though that didn’t cause any major damage. I know, it was a rough first two weeks for the most expensive purse I have ever owned.
My questions, as a result of that rambling thought.
1. Is it worth it to invest in the Suede Cleaner stuff in order to get the dirt from the ocean off the bottom?
2. What should I do about the beading?
3. Is there a specific cloth cleanser I should be using, or what? I know that for future use, I should be putting it in its bag and hanging it up that way, and then being super super careful. Anything else?
Will worship forever if you can help.

Before I get to the smacking down of the advice, I must let you know that your question made me lose my mind, since I knew I had written about cleaning suede before. I KNEW! But no amount of using the handy-dandy categories over on the sidebar there -→ would turn it up. Which meant I must have written about it the pre-AlphaMom days, which meant I had to search my own site, which does not have handy-dandy categories. Which meant fancy Googling and a lot of pointless clicking and ARGH WHERE IS THAT QUESTION ABOUT THE SUEDE ALREADY WHY IS MY SITE A MAMMOTH BEAST OF USER-NON-FRIENDLINESS?
Anyway. I found it. Here it is. I hope you are happy now.
As I fully expected, however, my previous answer was sort of lame, but I was pregnant and trying to answer a million questions at once instead of this glorious one-a-day format.
So. For the suede, YES. Get a suede care kit. You don’t have to buy it from Coach – they’re available at many shoe stores, department stores or leather-goods stores. All you really need is a suede eraser and a suede stone. DO NOT USE liquid cleansers or moisturizers of any kind. DO NOT. Tackle the stains first with the eraser, then gently brush the suede with the stone, and voila! Like new.
The Suede Care Kit of Pretension!
(One side note: if your husband bought the bag at a Coach store, the suede care kit should always be included. So if you paid full price, go back to the store and tell them they owe you a kit. I don’t know if outlet bags include it, however. Any outlet shoppers care to share?)
Either way, the suede stone/eraser dealie isn’t that expensive and is totally worth it. I have heard that using a pencil eraser will get rid of stains as well, and that all you really need is the stone or a suede brush to revive the nap, but I’ve never tried this.
For the fabric, as you already noticed, you don’t really need to do too much. It’s been treated to be both water and stain resistant. If you do notice a stain, a damp cloth (I just use a paper towel) should blot it out, and for really stubborn stains try a little Woolite or Ivory soap.
For the beading, well, I don’t know. That’s really a bummer. I don’t have any beaded bags from Coach so I don’t know if they are generally prone to breakage or if it’s a design flaw or something. If you bought the bag for full price, the Coach repair service (which I know I’ve covered here at AlphaMom) would be able to replace the beads for you. But for an outlet bag they might not.
But! The Coach repair service is obviously not the only option on earth qualified to touch your preshus bag. I bet you a good seamstress would have no trouble sewing a few damn beads to a purse. Especially a seamstress who works in say, a bridal shop? Where there are many many many things with beads on them? Or maybe someone who does custom headpieces and veils and stuff like that?
I don’t have the foggiest faint of an idea of how much that would cost, so I’d probably wait and see if the beading is prone to breaking. Basically wait until it’s more than just two or three beads and THEN get it fixed. You might find that as you get used to carrying the bag that you’re able to avoid further chipping, and in that case, don’t worry about it – you’re definitely the only person who is going to notice.
(By the way, for all Coach-carriers out there, Coach’s website offers a great care and cleaning guide for every type of leather and fabric and handbag style they sell. Bookmark it today!)

Published January 17, 2007. Last updated January 17, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Stephanie

    January 17, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Great timing!
    I received a suede Coach cosmetics bag for Christmas from my boss (I’m sure his wife picked it out) and while it’s very lovely and actually a great size to hold my everyday makeup, well, it holds makeup. Makeup is messy, no matter how careful you are. But now I know how to get those smudges out!

  • Cindy

    January 17, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    I have bought both full-price Coach suede and outlet Coach suede … and I definitely got the kit at the Coach store (except once – dammit), and I never got it at the Outlet.
    At the Coach store, I asked for one that one time and they gave it to me, no problemo. At the outlet, the lady acted like she was in the KGB and sneaked to the back to find me one, but “shhhh, don’t tell anyone.” So, I don’t think they come with them at the Outlet, but if you get a nice rule-breaking lady like I did, she might give you one! (was that a run-on sentence or what?)
    Oh, and COACH ROCKS!!!!!

  • (Often) Pedantic Musings

    January 17, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you! Said husband did buy the purse at a Coach store at the mall, so I will send him back with the receipt to get the care kit. And try to take better care of my things in the future.

  • kaitkait

    January 17, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Oh, good! I was dying for another Coach question — selfishly, because my comment from the last Coach question was never responded to — I got in too late in the game. You outlet shoppers are trying to keep the secrets to yourselves! So, I’ll ask again: how do you find these outlet stores? Do you just have to happen upon it, or is there oh, I don’t know, a website one could go to to find out this information? I Googled high and low and couldn’t figure anything out…

  • Claire

    January 17, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    This is great timing. I have a rather lovely suede purse (not Coach, though) that’s gotten really dirty and I had no idea how to clean it. And now I do. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Susan

    January 18, 2007 at 12:34 am

    There’s a Coach outlet in Las Vegas and one south of Vegas in Primm. I think I called the phone number on Coach’s Web site once and they told me some other Outlet locations. There’s one in Denver, if memory serves.
    About five seconds after purchasing my first suede purse from Coach, I got it too close to a fast food bag and grease from the bag made a big, oily stain on the purse. I thought I was going to die. My dry cleaners just shook their heads, the local shoe repair place kind of felt sorry for me, but offered no help. So, I treated the stain with corn starch — I’d put a pile of corn starch on the stain, let it sit there for a day and then brushed it off and repeated the procedure for about a week. Eventually, the grease either got soaked up by the corn starch, or absorbed by the suede. In any event, no more fast food near the suede purse.
    I know that Coach does not recommend this, but I have sprayed all subsequent suede Coach bags with water repellent spray — the kind you buy for shoes. It really seems to help keep my bags clean. And the stone and brush that come with the purse are indispensable.
    And this may seem extra lame, but if I am in a potential purse-soiling situation I am not above putting my purse in its brown dust cover — kind of a purse condom. I know those bags are just for storage, but I usually carry it in my purse just in case I have to put my purse down in a place where I know a disaster might occur. Alas, most Coach outlet purses do not come with the dust cover. Sometimes you get lucky, though, and every once in awhile if you are lucky enough to bond with a Coach employee you may be able to score an extra.
    I have quite a few Coach purses, but this fall my husband surprised me with one of the leather Legacy handbags and I think I found the love of my life. That bag is magnificent and the leather just keeps getting better looking the more I use it. It’s a miracle.

  • kaitkait

    January 18, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Thank you, Susan! I will call Coach and try to get some information on outlet locations in Illinois out of them.
    And speaking of the “purse condom,” is it terrible that I carry a plastic bag with me in my purse for emergencies? I was once spotted carrying my purse wrapped in my scarf — it was really raining outside, and it was my first trip out with it — and the next day at work, everyone kept asking me why I was carrying my baby around in the rain. I don’t even have a baby. That was embarrassing.

  • Vicky (Desperate to be a Housewife)

    January 18, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    I cried while reading of the blatant abuse against some people’s purses both in this post and the comments (also I called PETC: People for the Ethical Treatment of Coach – to report this stomach wrenching behavior!). I haven’t bought a Coach bag yet, but am currently campaigning for one for my birthday this Spring.
    For anyone near Washington State, there is a Coach outlet at the Seattle Outlets at Tulalip Casino and also another one somewhere near Tacoma. I actually found it by Googling “Washington Coach Outlet” when I knew I would be making a trip down there last time. (FWIW: do not drool on the bags! You will be asked to leave the store.)
    Also, my local Costco store (in BC) is selling a couple of Coach models from last fall’s collection (the scarf print duffle is one of them – $257.00 CAD). My husband and I were in the middle of the linens aisle discussing sheets when I spotted them in the showcase. I made quite a scene by interupting my husband in mid-sentence, dropping the package of sheets on his foot, running towards the glass case and rather loudly pronouncing, “holy shit! They sell Coach here!”
    …he didn’t buy me one that day.

  • Celly

    October 22, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    anyone know of any coach outlets located in tacoma? thanks