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Cleaning and restoring handbags: Removing exterior ink stains

By: Stu Bloom

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RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale, Arizona cleans and restores handbags and other accessories stained with ink

An ink stain on the exterior of a leather handbag is amongst the most difficult of all stains to remove

The most frequent stains found on handbags, purses, wallets and backpacks is general soiling, liquid spills, oil stains and dye transfer from jeans.

As a general rule, these types of soil and stains can be removed or remediated.

One of the most difficult stains to remove from the exterior of an accessory is ink.

The problem is particularly acute if the ink stain is on leather. 

The reason why ink is so problematic is because of the number of variables involved and the thousands of combinations of those variables:

  • type of ink (water-based, oil-based, oil- and water-based combinations, permanent, etc.)
  • type of pen (ballpoint, gelled, rollerball, highlighter, magic marker, check safe, etc.)
  • type of skin or material (suede, leather, patent leather, canvas, nylon, cotton, etc.)
  • quality of skin or material
  • color of skin or material
  • type of finish on skin or material. 

Most of the handbags we see arrive with a similar story: I was digging through my handbag with one hand while holding a pen in the other hand and…

Your first stop on the way to recovery might be the internet. Just google “ink on leather” and you’ll find a host of suggested miracle cures — all guaranteed to remove the ink from the exterior of a handbag or other accessory.

These suggested miracle cures will range from from rubbing alcohol, hairspray, perfume and nail polish remover to dish washing liquid, mayonnaise, baby wipes, white erasers and sandpaper.

Almost every one of these suggestions comes from someone who has either used one of these products themselves or knows of someone who has. And their stated results vary from “I was completely successful” to “I ruined by handbag”. The fascinating part is that every recommendation seems to come with a warning: The suggestion may or may not work.

In other words, go play Russian Roulette with your high-end handbag or other accessory. If it works great; if not, tough luck. Just don’t blame me.

The problem with these DIY miracle cures is that the suggested miracle cure rarely produces a satisfactory result.

The problem for handbag specialists is more challenging: not only do we have to remove the the ink stains, but we also have to deal with all the additional stains and skin and/or material damage caused by the products that have been used in the unsuccessful attempt to remove the ink.

Bottom line

 

The restoration of a handbag with exterior ink stains involves science, art, skill and experience. Not a suggestion from some Helpful Heloise who wouldn’t dare apply that very same suggestion to their own high-end handbag, purse, wallet or backpack. 

Transformations

 

Example: Fendi leather handbag with ink stains

This handbag belongs to a client of Fendi located inside Saks Fifth Avenue (Biltmore Fashion Park). After their own technicians declined to clean the handbag, Fendi sent it to us.

The results of the transformation can be seen in the following BEFORE and AFTER photographs:

RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale, Arizona cleans and restores handbags and other accessories with ink stains

For even more BEFORE and AFTER photographs on the transformation of this handbag, please view our slide show below:

To view this slide show on a full screen, hit the X button with the arrow tips.

Example: Valentino leather handbag with ink stains

This Valentino leather handbag belongs to a client who stained her handbag with blue magic marker. She then attempted to “clean” the handbag using various cleaning products she found at home. 

The results of the transformation can be seen in the following BEFORE and AFTER photographs:

RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale, Arizona cleans and restores handbags and other accessories with ink stains

For even more BEFORE and AFTER photographs on the transformation of this handbag, please view our slide show below:

 

 

To view this slide show on a full screen, hit the X button with the arrow tips.

Example: Bottega Veneta vintage leather handbag with ink stains

This 30 year old intrecciato weave purse (circa 1980) belongs to a client who received it from her mother. On receipt it was light-faded, scuffed and ink stained.

The results of the transformation can be seen in the following BEFORE and AFTER photographs:

RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale, Arizona cleans and restores handbags and other accessories with ink stains

For even more BEFORE and AFTER photographs on the transformation of this handbag, please view our slide show below:

To view this slide show on a full screen, hit the X button with the arrow tips.

The takeaway

 

The takeaway from this post is simple: 

Ink stained handbags, purses, wallets and backpacks can be cleaned and restored but only if cleaned by hand. And then only by a cleaner who

  • specializes in cleaning and restoring handbags, purses, wallets and backpacks,
  • employs full time handbag cleaning specialists and
  • completes all work on premises (does not ship the work to an unknown, undisclosed, out of state subcontractor).

In Arizona, there is only one cleaner who meets these 3 criteria: RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale.

By the way, if you don’t live in the metro Phoenix area, all is not lost. We ship throughout the USA and Canada.

Send us your photos for a free, no-obligation evaluation and price guesstimate.

 

What’s been your experience cleaning and/or restoring handbags, purses, wallets and/or backpacks with exterior ink stains?

 

Photo credit: stocksnap.io/Aaron Burden

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Filed Under:

Handbags, Purses, Wallets & Handbags

Author

Stu Bloom

Stu Bloom is Founder and President of RAVE FabriCARE. RAVE FabriCARE, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, cares for fine garments, household textiles and accessories and serves clients throughout the USA and Canada. Stu is the author of various ebooks on these subjects, all of which are available from www.ravefabricare.com/freestuff. He is an evangelist for true quality cleaning and is a contributor to and editor of True Quality Cleaning, RAVE FabriCARE’s blog. You can find Stu on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Additional Resources:

http://ravefabricare.com/services/handbags-purses-wallets-backpacks/

http://ravefabricare.com/do-it-yourself-handbag-cleaning-exercise-caution-with-cleaning-products/

http://ravefabricare.com/cleaning-restoring-handbags-perfection-versus-best-achievable-results/

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