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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!)

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

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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