How We Clean and Restore a Designer Leather Handbag The Right Way

Its 2am on a Saturday night at the Gansevoort. Your having a blast with your girlfriends, maybe a little to much fun. You spill a drink on your Jimmy Choo, you drop your Prada in a puddle, you set your Hermès on an icky seat. These are the realities of being fabulous in New York.  For those that are fashion conscious in this city, accidents are bound to happen to your designer handbags. A great handbag is an investment to your style and social life and needs to be cared for. Luckily there are trained experts who can clean and restore your designer handbag the right way.

For those minor day to day stains that happen, a great emergency spot clean technique is to use some baby wipes. Baby wipes are a fantastic way to lift up drips and spots and help to ensure they don’t eventually set in.  For those stains that can’t be blotted off or areas that have serious wear and tear to the material, it may take a lot of work to get it back to its original glory. When this happens your going to want to take it to the professionals.

Because a handbag cannot be dry cleaned the traditional way, they have to be cleaned by hand. When we receive your item our staff meticulously examines the entire handbag to determine how to move forward with the cleaning and restoration.

Bulgari Bag examined for stains

There are two types of stains, “water based” and “oil based”. We always test in a small area of the handbag to see how we need to approach the stain removal. For water based stains, a cleaning agent is used. This wet approach works well for stains like food and various condiments. Our agents act as degreasers and lift out the lesser oily stains. Then we go over the spots with various tools to see if they can be brushed or scraped off.

leather bag cleaning restoration with scraper

The worse the stain is or depending on the material of the handbag, we may use a different approach towards the restoration.  For stains like lipstick or salad dressing spots, most likely they will need  a bit of  dry cleaning.

For items like patent leather and vinyl, dye from jeans pose a real problem to the finish of the material. Dyes from jeans transfer onto handbags as you walk and typically don’t want to come out, especially from light colors such as cream or white. The best thing for this is preventative care. Be mindful of the materials you wear when going out and how they will affect one another. If you have just bought some really dark denim jeans, you dont want to go out with light colored shoes or accessories.

After we spot clean the handbag, we check for any open seams, tears, or any damage to the fabrics and skins of the handbag and carefully repair them.

Ripped Bulgari Bag Repaired

Next we meticulously match the leather finish to the original color of your handbag. If you go to your local store and try to purchase leather finish, your most likely going to find either black or maybe a cream, and there is no guarantee the colors will match your handbags original color. Our staff works with a rainbow of colors to ensure a proper match.

leather bag coloring

To get the handbag restored to its original beauty, it takes a lot of trial and error to get the colors just right. Our expert Hassan painstakingly matches the color so your handbag looks as good as when initially purchased it.

Designer Bag Color Match

Designer Bag Restoration color

For this particular handbag, the tone had gradations from darker pink to lighter pink. To get this just right, Hassan will use various techniques like airbrushing to match the color.

matching bag color

After we have finished matching the color,  the handbag is moisturized and hung to dry.

The best care for your handbag is always preventative care. Be mindful of your surroundings when you go out. Watch out for areas where you rest your handbag. Be mindful off its contents as well. Ink, lipstick and other oil based products are difficult to get out, even at the hands of a professional so be careful. Make sure you put all stainable products in their own container like a small makeup or pen/pencil case.

For long term care keep your bag moisturized with a non staining moisturizer. Remember, leather and suede are animal skins and will dry and crack if not looked after. You should never store your handbag in any air tight plastic containers. Your handbag must be able to breath to maintain itself. The best thing to do is store the bag in light fabric covering. This will allow it to breathe and keep it secured from dust.


  1. sharon Harriston
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    My orange patient leather purses was seating next to my black patient purese. The black patient dye got into my orange patient purses.


  2. benjamin
    Posted December 7, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Depending on how bad the stain is, some of it may lighten up but patent leather loves to stay dyed. Patent leather is leather with acrylic applied on top of it. What happens is the color that bleeds onto it is not really coloring the leather but coloring the plastic on top of it. Getting color out is not very possible. You can someties help lighten areas a little but not much.

  3. naomi herring
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    Hi there are some darker stains on the bottom of an LV alma I purchased as well as a few water marks on the monogram leather. Do you guys restore or clean Louis Vuitton? Would you be able to clean this bag? I can provide pictures.

  4. yanna almonte
    Posted December 25, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink


    I have a leather Dooney&Bourke. I think it is crocidile skin. It is a color between gray and beige, but the leather is dirty and it looks darker. Also, the zipper is ripped and it might need some stiches in on of the corner. Can you let me know if this could be fix and what is the estimate price for this services. I have a shoulder bag •L 8″ W 4″ H 6.25″

  5. Posted February 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I have a british tan Dooney Bourke sling backpack and it
    shows leather wear on the piping in three places at bottom of bag. Can this be fixed. Thanks so much…

  6. A
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I recently noticed stains on my gray Coach patent leather handbag. One of the stains looks like the “best if used by” stamp that is found on food items. I’ve tried several cleaning tricks to no avail. Is there something that I can do to lighten or remove the stains?

  7. Charlene Folsom
    Posted February 17, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    How do you reshape the flat bottom of a sagging purse?

  8. Brenda
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Help i need to restore my Prada handbag it is a Patent Tan leather. how much will this bag cost to restore please let me know Thank you

  9. CL
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi is this bag worth restoring ? Thanks for your advice…if so what would the price be, apprx. ?

  10. Posted August 7, 2013 at 3:26 am | Permalink

    i have a vintage all weather dooney and bourke bag thats light blue but the british tan on the outside rim has faded because of rub marks on the leather . can you fix that piping ?? please reply back thanks

  11. connie
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    had my nails done today, sadly, the manicurist spilled some acetone on my new coach bag; is there any hope for me?

  12. eileen askew
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I have a 20th. Anniversary tignanello purse that I have used everyday. It’s a small hobo purse, about 13″ x8″high. the color is worn from the handling over the years and I would like to have it restored. can send pictures if requested.can you redo the color? purse has no scratches or marks on it. lining is worn, but thats incidential, just trying to get it recolored. Thank You
    Mrs. Askew

  13. Yahaira vivieca
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    The patent gold leather label on my coach purse looks like someone painted over it with beige paint. I tried to clean it and made it worse. Is there any way to fix this?

    Thank you

  14. jhay salazar
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    Hi, i have a chanel vintage bag but the leather inside already cracked, can u fix it?how much? pls advice tnx

  15. Diana
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I have a beautiful grey patent leather coach purse that has been heavily used and the section where the hands go constantly to close the magnetic button and of course the handels when held hand show signs of color fadings and when I went to clean it with a palmolive dish soap application the affected area turned orangie and now it is more noticeable than ever, what can I do.
    thank you for your prompt reply

  16. Vivian
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    I have my LV alma monogram canvas handbag. The bottom corner part of my purse has a water stain and some scratches i would like to know how do i cost for the cleaning of my purse.

  17. PC
    Posted May 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    What is the name of the non staining oil you treat leather bags with?

  18. Lanny
    Posted May 22, 2014 at 12:49 am | Permalink


    I have a MINI Blue Juliette Cross body Shoulder Bag Louis Vuitton.
    May i know how much does it cost to clean it? It has a slight yellow discoloration.

    Thank you.

  19. J. Farry
    Posted June 5, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I have a yellow Sak shoulder leather bag. Needs cleaning. But I also had a spot on the bag where I attempted to remove an ink mark and the color came off. Little bigger than a half dollar spot. Can the bag be repaired and what is an approximate cost for such. Thank you.
    J. Farry

  20. Donette
    Posted July 21, 2014 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    I was carrying my Yellow Ralph Lauren tote yesterday and some how my black shirt rubbed of on it in several places. I reall like the bag. Would it be possible to fix? And how would it run?

  21. Nay
    Posted July 31, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    My black patent leather bag transferred color onto my purple patent leather bag. Can this be fixed? Help!!!!

  22. Doris Swanson
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I have a rare antique white leather purse. No stains or wear. The age of the bag has dimmed the bright white of the leather. It is not due to wear, just age. Is there a solution to this? What would the charge be?

  23. Lisa Clements
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I have a 6 year old LV handbag. The leather piping around the top edge is cracked and there is a small tear in the canvas. What should I do to repair,restore it?

  24. Lisa Clements
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    I have a six year old LV bag with cracks in the leather piping and a small tear in the top layer of the canvas. What should I do to fix it?

  25. candy
    Posted October 22, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I have a Ferragamo large tote and was storing it in the fabric bag that came with the tote. When i went to use it recently i noticed the bag’s soft leather is flaking and some part sticky. What can i do to fix or stop the damage from continuing. Thank you in advance.

  26. ksenia
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    i got a new chanel boy and some perfume spilled from the inside the colour drained out from the bottom any way i can fix this

  27. susan mario
    Posted January 8, 2015 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Hello. I have a Maryann Rosefeld black patent leather clutch. I moved and had it stored for a year in unprinted packing paper wrap. I finally unwrapped it today and discovered the paper was stuck to the patent leather on both the front and back of purse. I used a wet sponge to remove the paper, but stain marks or shadows remain in the patent leather. I tried winded, white vinegar, leather cleaner… Nothing removes the discoloration. This handbag is on excellent condition otherwise, and I love the bag’s design. Is there any hope you can repair the problem? Thank you!

  28. Sarah
    Posted January 25, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    My daughter has a micheal kors hand bag that has become “saggy” as if the leather has broke down….is there a way to fix it?

  29. alia
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I am looking to repair my handle on my hand made original Louis Voitton.If at all possible,i have left my email address.Thank You.

  30. Verka
    Posted November 25, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink


    I just purchased the perfect handbag, but the dye is just one tone too dark. Is there anything I can do to lighten it up?

  31. Nancy pineda
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    Hello I have a chanel patent leather white purse and it’s stained with dark marks inside the patent leather I don’t know how to get rid of it and no one knows how to get rid of it I paid a lot of money for this purse and would love to fix it even if I have to change the color of it! Thank you!

  32. Lyn Reynolds
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Can cracks in the monogram canvas on a Louis Vuitton be repaired?

  33. NeYaz
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I have a vintage Chanel patent leather in cream color, the bag is in pretty good shape with minor stains however I find that the color has turned yellowish due to the exposure of light over time. I was wondering since the leather is patent is it possible to have it repainted? I know that there is an acrylic coat on top of the Leather but aren’t there a way to remove that coat and repaint? I want to stick with the same tone just maybe a light beige, just anything but yellow.

    Thank for letting me know

  34. Lily
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Hello there.. By accident while working spill acetone on my costumer designer bag.. Worst thing is a patent marble design bag.. Acetone has remove part of the marble.. I wonder can it be fix..I have to pay her My intire month pay check if I can get this fix.. Please help

  35. Ana
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I have a light gray coach bag that has
    Turned yellowish or faded. What can I do to restore to original color. What products I can use. If you can do it what is the charge. Has no stains.

  36. Jenny
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 4:21 am | Permalink


    I have water stains on my purple leather bag. Could you advise how I can get rid of it?

  37. Sarah
    Posted January 9, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I have a white Micheal Kors bag that needs restoration. I wanted to know what is the price I’m looking at

  38. qurrat
    Posted January 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    i have a coral leather bag and its colour has faded. I havve tried to clean it as instructed but it seems to have got worse. help please.

  39. Lynnd
    Posted January 26, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t work for this company but I used to work for a leather goods sales/repair shop back in college and as such had to take a lot of questions on what could/could not be repaired. Here are some tips:

    1) Do not attempt to remove pen marks on the exterior of a bag. It almost always ends badly. Consult a professional.

    2) For leather bags with water spots that are otherwise clean, baby wipes can help. Baby wipes are gentle on leather; however, a baby wipe can darken down vachetta leather so you will want to go over the entire area, not just the water spot, if attempting to remove a water mark from very pale, minimally processed/tanned leather. Before going over the surface of a dark-color handbag or shoe using a baby wipe, test an inconspicuous area to ensure that the color does not lift!

    3) If the leather on your item is very distressed, pale, dull or “bare” a leather cleaner or conditioning product may darken the rubbed-out or “naked” areas. Some conditioners/cleaners are better than others in this regard. Those of you with vachetta leather trim — e.g. Louis Vuitton and Dooney & Bourke — should be particularly careful. Cadillac boot & shoe care leather conditioner is one of the few that will not significantly alter the color of pale, minimally finished leathers.

    4) If you have spilled a chemical on the bag or observed transfer of dye from another product, you will want to have it professionally inspected. It may or may not be possible to repair. In a worst-case scenario you may need to re-dye the entire handbag.

    5) If you notice lifting, bubbling or separation on coated canvas, it cannot be restored. In this case, please contact the manufacturer to see if the bag can be repaired or replaced. (Some manufacturers, such as Dooney & Bourke, offer a limited warranty.)

    6) It may require drastic measures to repair a handbag that has faded or discolored due to sun exposure. Depending on the material, you may have to re-dye the entire handbag. This is generally not a DIY job.

    7) If you are concerned about a musty odor to the bag, apply aerosol Febreze to a wad of paper towels, insert them in the bag and close the zippers/snap, allow to sit overnight or no less than one hour and remove. As an alternative, a dryer sheet can help freshen the interior of a bag, too. To prevent leather goods from developing an odor, do not store them in plastic bags or boxes. Instead, keep them covered in cotton pillow cases or dust bags when not in use and leave the zippers/snaps open to allow for air circulation. For those who live in particularly humid areas, it is a good idea to salvage the silica packets that ship with new shoes and handbags to help keep the interior free of moisture while not in use. (Be sure to keep these packets away from pets and children, however, because they are toxic if consumed.)

  40. Laura Letourneau
    Posted January 30, 2016 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Have a black, buttery leather Jimmy Choo handbag with snakeskin handle which can be removed. Only the handbag body needs restoring. It is faded and dull. Still in good shape, otherwise. Have owned it since 2010. What can be done?

  41. schvonda williams
    Posted February 29, 2016 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Can you restore the colors back in a Dooney & Bourke bag

  42. Lyn
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I have a Gucci small blue vintage shoulder bag, which is about twenty years old. It is a favourite of mine and has been well used. The outside seems waterproof and is ok, but the inside is navy blue leather and over the years has cracked and is now flaking off on everything I put in, and they come out covered in little navy flecks and powder. My question is can it be restored?

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