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Do-it-yourself handbag cleaning: Exercise caution

By: Stu Bloom

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DIY leather and suede cleaning products are a dime a dozen. In most cases, that's all they're worth.

The miracle cures


The array of leather and suede cleaning products available at brick and mortar stores and on line is extensive.

Apparently, there’s a “specialized cleaning product” for every brand, for every type of leather and suede, for every color of leather and suede, for every type of stain, spill and soil, and for every possible combination thereof.

Don’t believe me? Just google “cleaning a Coach bag”. As of January 2017, you get over 9.5 million results. And that’s only for Coach!

Furthermore, the internet is awash in DIY cleaning suggestions for every handbag, purse, wallet and backpack cleaning question ever asked.

Our suggestion: When it comes to high-end handbags, purses, wallets and backpacks, proceed with caution.

And, yes, we do have a bias.

That’s because we see the results of these DIY “cleaning” projects every week.

Take this Tory Burch leather handbag, for example.

Our client spilled some liquid on the handbag, posted pictures of the handbag on a purse forum and followed the cleaning instructions recommended by the majority of respondents.

The results were, to say the least, disastrous.

So she sent it to RAVE FabriCARE for restoration.

Seeing that the handbag would have to be re-cleaned, conditioned and then completely refinished (think: “re-dyed”, “re-painted”), our client decided that she wanted the handbag refinished to a darker color: medium olive instead of the original medium brown. The rationale for this decision was that a darker color would show less soiling over time.

[ctt template=”3″ link=”eZvVa” via=”no” ]Before you clean that leather or leather-trimmed handbag at home with a miracle “cleaning product”, proceed with caution @ravefabricare[/ctt]

The transformation


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

Tory Burch handbag: Before and After photographs of a failed Do-It-Yourself experimental cleaning


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 DIY attempt at cleaning a handbag 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 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.

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.

By the way, you should never turn over a high-end handbag to a dry cleaner for cleaning (washing, extracting and drying) in a dry cleaning machine. Read this blog post to learn why not.


What’s been your experience cleaning and/or restoring your own handbags, purses, wallets and/or handbags at home using DIY products? Did those products meet your expectations? Please share your comments below.


Photo credit: unsplash.com/Nicolas Cool

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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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