Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tips to Help Clean and Restore Your Designer Handbags

We all love our designer or vintage handbags, but over time they start to show signs of aging. Through the years of owning Le Thrift Consignment, I have learned some valuable tips through my consignors and customers to help achieve the best outcome for cleaning and restoring your handbags.

Before trying any of these products or tips, please test them on a small, unnoticeable part of the bag. If the color changes, lightens or lifts, refrain from continuing.

Magic Erasers 
The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser  is a great cleaning product and is perfect for Vachetta (Louis Vuitton) or light colored leather on your designer bag. I would not suggest using it on a darker colored bag, as I have not tried it yet with a darker leather. The Magic Eraser gently lifts any dirts or oils from the leather. I do advise that you are gentle with applying your magic eraser on the bag. Use warm water in a bowl, dip the magic eraser in the water, wring it out so that it is damp. Gently blot the magic eraser on the leather. Do not rub too hard as it will lift the finish on the bag and ruin the texture of the leather. Please note: I have tested this technique with generic brand magic erasers and they fall apart quicker.

Metal Polish
To brighten up metal hardware, use a metal polish cream. I would suggest
Flitz Polish or Blue Magic Polish Cream. Find an old toothbrush and dampen it. Apply a sparing amount of polish to the toothbrush and then in a careful circular motion rub the polish on it. Be careful not to get the polish on the leather. Use a clean, damp rag and gently wipe the polish off. You may need to repeat these steps a few times to get the grime or scratches off the hardware.

Leather Conditioner
Leather conditioner is a great way to keep canvas, leather and even exotic skins supple when restoring a handbag. Make sure you wipe with the grain of leather or skin. Apply the
conditioner lightly, a little goes a long way. Some products that I would recommend are Leather Honey, Cadillac Leather Conditioner or Chamberlain's Leather Milk

Use a clean soft rag when applying the leather conditioner and gently rub in a soft, circular motion. If it is an exotic skin such as snake, rub in the direction of the skin, not against it. Use the conditioner sparingly as if you use too much, it will leave residue that will attract dust over time. Allow time for the leather conditioner to sink into the leather or skin and dry. Do not use any hand lotions after cleaning and carrying the bag. The oils of the lotion will immediately soak into the leather you just cleaned. Leather conditioner can also be used with canvas bags to keep the material moisturized.

If you have used the Magic Eraser beforehand, I would recommend that you use a leather conditioner after cleaning to protect the leather. Be sure that the cleaned leather is completely dry before applying the leather conditioner.

Baby Wipes
What is gentle enough for baby is also good for your handbag. These are
great to wipe or clean fabric, leather or vinyl interiors. Apply the baby wipe to the interior and lightly rub. Repeat a few times to get most of the grime out.

Rubbing Alcohol 
For stubborn stains on interior fabrics, try using rubbing alcohol. Use a damp,
clean sponge and literally apply rubbing alcohol to sponge. Dab alcohol on to lining and repeat steps until the stain starts to lift. Make sure to rinse the sponge with clean, warm water as the stain starts to lift. If you can pull the lining out of the bag, this is better as it prevents the leather or canvas from being touched. For more stubborn stains you can try soaking the affected part in the alcohol. Carefully rinse the cleaned area with water after the stain has been removed.

Stuffing the Bag

Make sure when you are not using your bag to stuff it to keep its shape. This prevents the handbag from getting warped or loose its shape. I usually use old, clean, soft t-shirts that I don't wear anymore. Any acid free, colorless or white tissue paper also works very well. Do not use newspaper as it may transfer the ink to your lining.

Duster Bags
Ladies, the last advice I would like to share with you is to use the dust bags that come with your handbag when storing them. They protect the bag from fading and dust. If you don't have a dust bag you can purchase one second hand on Ebay or buy a new one on Amazon. I prefer the fabric ones over the plastic ones as they allow the materials on the bag to breathe and protects them from UV light. 

I hope that this information on this blog helps you with restoring or maintaining your designer or vintage handbag. If you have any questions feel free to email me at christines@lethrift.com.

Ciao for now!
Christine Sanderson
Owner - Le Thrift Consignment


  1. I think that can work for my bag also. Thanks for this valuable info. https://goo.gl/W2ZMvC