Monday, October 3, 2016

Restoring Vintage Canvas Designer Handbags

Recently, a vintage, Gucci cross-body handbag came into the store on consignment. I was so excited to have it in the store as I am a big fan of the vintage designer bags. They are made so well and the craftsmanship rivals the designer handbags that are made today.

There is nothing better than a perfectly restored designer, vintage bag. However,  this bag and many of the canvas bags often come with stains or discoloration that comes with use and age. The great news about this is that most bags like this can be easily restored to their natural glamour and inexpensively.

With this handbag I used an old toothbrush, a few soft fabric rags and Oxy
Clean Laundry Stain Remover Spray. You can buy cleaner this online or any large retailer like Target or Walmart. Before starting, I would suggest finding a small area to test, to make sure that it works well with the canvas before applying it to the bag. Especially if the bag has something sticky to it. Take a lightly wet rag, then spray the Oxy Cleaner on to a concentrated area. Slightly rub the test area in a circular motion to see if the spray reacts well to the canvas.

If the test is successful, amply spray the Oxy Clean to the rag and slowly, in a circular motion start working on the stain. Do not rub too hard, as you are restoring the bag and don't want to wear off the design on the canvas. Also, be careful to keep the Oxy Clean away from any leather trim on the bag. 

The vintage Gucci Cross-body handbag that came in with discoloration from aging.
Once the Oxy Clean is on the area, let it sit for a few minutes. Take a wet toothbrush and again in a circular motion brush the canvas. A used toothbrush or soft bristle toothbrush would work best. At this point the stains or discoloration should be lifting from the canvas.  You may need to repeat these steps if the stain is really set in.

Immediately after this step take another rag, wet it with slightly warm water and wipe off the Oxy Clean. Make sure it is fully cleaned off, thoroughly hand dry it and you will see the results. It should look like new again.

This hack does not work with all stains or discoloration, but in my experience of restoring and cleaning bags, it has worked with most.

Although not perfect, you can see a dramatic improvement of the canvas after cleaning.

Although, I have use this method yet, I have heard baby wipes work well for this type of project as well. I will post another blog after I have tried baby wipes and if it is effective.

This Gucci 1970's cross-body is now available for sale at

I hope that this information helps with restoring your designer canvas bag. Email me at if you have questions about your handbag. I love to talk shop with our customers and clients!

Ciao for now,
Christine Sanderson

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