By Gale from CA
I wore a new pair of jeans and the denim dye transferred to my metallic leather coach handbag. How can I clean it?
Jeannie from Cincinnati
I just wanted to know how can I clean my Coach bag, that's made from fabric? I wear dark jeans and the the lint from the jeans stained the lower part of my bag by rubbing against it, I guess. I just wanted to know how I get the stain off of my bag?
By Natasha from Bronx, NY
I have a B Makowski beige purse. Blue dye from my jeans rubbed off onto it. How do I get it off? The leather is very soft and the bottom of the purse is metallic leather. Please help.
By Jill from Pittsburg, PA
The dye from my jeans has rubbed off onto my new white leather bag. What can I use to get this out?
By Tracy from Staten Island, NY
First off, I'm not claiming to be an expert at cleaning leather purses. I just know what has worked for me and feel that some of you may benefit from my success. Whether you need to clean one of your existing handbags or considering purchasing a used bag from eBay, these tips should come in handy. I've recently had a lot of success buying used designer handbags on eBay for 70% - 90% below the original retail price. Several of these purses had known blemishes, but I felt pretty confident knowing that I could fix most of the defects with a little TLC. In this article I will list the methods I use to bring leather purses back to life, leaving them looking brand new in no time.
1) Treating scuffs, scratches, minor stains, and cracked or dull looking leather.
My favorite product for treating these types of defects is Leather CPR. Leather CPR is great for restoring, conditioning, polishing, and cleaning leather. It will remove most dirt, grime, smudges, and minor stains. It's most valuable attribute is its ability to transform cracked worn-looking leather purses back to their original new condition. It accomplishes this through conditioning and polishing the leather which reduces the appearance of scuffs, scratches, and cracks.
Here's my personal testimonial of how this product worked for me the first time I used it on a pre-owned handbag I purchased on eBay:
After I originally looked at all the pictures the seller provided I was a little concerned about the condition of the bag. It appeared to have several scratches, scuff marks, and a couple small stains. It was a B. Makowsky that I had been looking for a long time so I decided to take a chance and bid on it. I was lucky enough to win it at a ridiculously low price. I figured what the heck, if I wasn't successful at cleaning and restoring it at least I didn't pay much for it. Plus, it wasn't in horrible condition; I could still wear it out. Anyways, after receiving the bag a friend of mine suggested a product called "Leather CPR" so I decided to give it a shot. I squirted some on an artist sponge that I bought at my local craft store. Then I worked it into the leather, spending more time on the problem areas. I kept repeating the process until I did the whole bag. I have to tell you to my surprise it actually looked worse at first. I started freaking out! I let it dry and came back to it about an hour later. I couldn't believe it, the bag looked so much better. All the scuffs, scratches, and stains came out. Also, the bag was a lot softer to the touch. There was no greasy feeling or anything. There was one stain that I had to reapply the product to 5x before it came out. Just be careful that you don't apply too much pressure or you could remove some of the paint on the leather. Believe me, I've made that mistake. I have to be honest; there are limitations to this product. For example, it will not remove ink, fix very deep scratches, or remove all stains.
2) Treating ink stains:
Ink stains seem to be one of the most common types of stains to deal with when trying to clean up your purse. I am always amazed with how they can appear out of no where. Until recently I didn't know how to deal with ink. I was surprised when I heard that just your standard isopropyl alcohol could get rid of these stains. Before you apply the alcohol or any other type of cleaner make sure you get into the habit of spot testing to make sure you do not discolor or damage the material. Just apply a little alcohol to an area of the bag that no one would see and let it dry for 15 minutes. If everything checks out OK, which it should, then go ahead and treat the problem area.
Just put a little bit of alcohol on a cotton ball or Q-tip and rub the stain in a circular motion. You'll notice that it should come off quite easily. Once it air dries go ahead and apply some leather conditioner (like Leather CPR) to moisturize and shine that area.
3) Treating discoloration or stubborn stains:
If you've already tried all the above suggestions, but still haven't been able to remove a stubborn stain then you may want to consider leather spray paint. This also may be your only option when dealing with leather discoloration. I only suggest this as a last resort when attempting to clean or restore a purse. A few months ago I found a Marc Jacobs handbag that was worth around $500. I noticed it had markings on the leather so I e-mailed the seller to ask what the markings were and if she could send me another picture that was a close up of the marking. The seller said that the marks were from blue jeans. I decided to visit my local shoe and handbag repair shop to ask if they had anything that could remove blue jean markings from a cream colored leather purse. They told me there was nothing that could remove the stain, but they did suggest covering it up with leather spray paint. I took my chances and bought a can of cream colored spray paint; went home and eventually won the purse for only $77. Upon receiving the bag I applied two coats of spray paint. After letting it dry, to my amazement it looked brand new! To be honest with you, I was tempted to turn around and sell the bag for 2 to 3x as much as I paid for it.
Here are a couple tips on how to apply the paint. When applying make sure you are holding the can of paint at least a foot and a half away from the purse. If you try applying too close the color could come out darker than what it should. Also, before you start applying the paint make sure you test the color on something other than the purse to make sure the paint matches your bag exactly. As another precautionary step, it's a good idea to spot test on the bag to confirm that the color fully matches. For instance, spray a little on the bottom of the bag just to be sure it's a 100% match before you start applying to the front of the purse. If any of the paint gets onto the metal hardware it can easily be polished off with a clean rag. I'm sure there are several quality brands of leather spray paint available; I personally have only used Meltonian.
4) Professional handbag restoration services:
If you don't want to clean your handbag yourself you might want to consider a professional purse cleaning service. These can be costly, but if you paid over $500 for your high end designer bag and you don't want to risk damaging it then this may be a good alternative for you. I believe these types of places charge anywhere from $50 - $200. You can find some of these services online or in your local community. Margarets.com and Lovinmybags.com are just a couple sites that offer these types of services. I personally have used neither.
I hope you can use some of these tips the next time you need to clean or restore one of your handbags. Now you don't need to discard that purse you've grown attached to just because of a few blemishes. Or maybe you are ready to test your luck with buying a used purse on eBay. Online auctions can be a wonderful thing when it comes to saving money on used designer bags, especially if you know a few tricks of the trade in regards to cleaning and restoring them. Good luck! (05/05/2010)
Add your voice to the conversation. Click here to answer this question.