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Cleaning and restoring handbags: Sometimes the only option is to replace the lining

By: Stu Bloom

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RAVE Fabricare cleans and restores handbags: Sometimes the only option is to replace the stained and soiled linings

Replacing stained, soiled and/or torn linings can transform a handbag from unusable to perfectly wearable

Stuff happens.

The lining of your favorite handbag, purse, wallet or handbag gets soiled from general usage and/or stained by a cosmetic, ink, beverage, candy and the like.

In most cases, these stains and soils can be removed by gentle hand cleaning.

On occasion, however, the accumulated soils and/or stains are so extensive and/or so ingrained that no amount of hand cleaning is going to return the lining to “like new” condition.

At this point, it’s appropriate to consider replacing the entire lining.

[ctt template=”3″ link=”eq4U0″ via=”no” ]Handbag cleaning and restoration: Sometimes the only (and best) option is to replace stained, soiled and/or torn linings @ravefabricare[/ctt]

Here’s an example…

A client stopped by to drop off a formal dress for cleaning. After seeing all the handbags waiting to be picked up by other clients, she announced, with some degree of excitement: “I’ve got a project for you. I’ll be back in a hour!”

She returned shortly thereafter with a once-gorgeous white Chanel handbag that exhibited the following issues:

  • The exterior leather was soiled, scuffed and scratched.
  • The exterior leather displayed a relatively consistent film of blackish dirt.
  • The handles were soiled and the leather “paint” was peeling off.
  • The rim of the opening of the handbag was soiled, scuffed and scratched.
  • The 4 corners of the handbag was soiled, scuffed and scratched.
  • The lining of the 2 major interior compartments and the 2 small cosmetic and loose change pouches were heavily soiled and stained.

After examination of the handbag, we informed her that we were confident that we could clean and restore the exterior leather shell.

Replacing the lining


The lining, however, posed a challenge: the likelihood that we could restore those linings to “like new” condition were remote at best.

We suggested that she consider replacing all 4 internal compartments and pouches with a brand new, heavy duty canvas-like fabric. Furthermore, we informed her that she would not lose the Chanel leather logo and the Chanel zippers and zipper pulls as we would clean and replace those logos, zippers and zipper pulls when we constructed the new lining.

For the lining, we offered her a choice of more than 20 colors. She chose white — the color of the original bag and the color that matched the logo and zipper the best. 

The transformation


The transformation of this handbag from disastrous to perfectly wearable can be seen in the following BEFORE and AFTER photographs:

White Chanel handbag: Exterior before and after restoration

White Chanel leather handbag: Interior before and after restoration

For even more BEFORE and AFTER photographs of this handbag, please view the following slide show:

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

The takeaway


The takeaway from this restoration is as follows: 

High-end handbags, purses, wallets and backpacks should always be 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,
  • has the fabric and leather sewing equipment necessary to construct and install the new lining, 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 4 criteria: RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale.

And even 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, restoring and/or replacing dirty linings in handbags, purses and backpacks?Please share your comments below.


Photo credit: pixabay.com/Hans

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Filed Under:

Handbags, Purses, Wallets & Handbags


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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