Cleaning and restoring handbags and accessories of sentimental value

Every now and again, we'll receive a handbag for cleaning and/or restoration that is of great sentimental value to the owner.

Every one of these handbags has a unique story that relates to the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the handbag. Typically, the handbag was received as a gift from a family member or friend or the handbag once belonged to a family member or friend.

In every case, these handbags and accessories must be handled with the utmost care -- irrespective of the original cost, age or condition of the handbag or accessory.

Sentimental handbags require extreme TLC

We recently received a brown leather handbag with water and oil stains from a client in Denver, Colorado. She told us that the handbag belonged to her daughter who had passed away and that she had received it as a remembrance from her son-in-law. Clearly, this was a bag that had great sentimental to our client -- one that required extreme TLC.

After evaluating the handbag, we discussed the different processes that were available and results that could be achieved with each process. More specifically, we suggested 2 options:

  • Clean the exterior and interior of the handbag and condition the leather.
  • Clean the exterior and interior of the handbag, condition the leather and refinish (read "re-dye" or "repaint") the exterior to a color that closely matched the original color.

As our client expressed a desire to maintain the original "look" of the handbag, we agreed that the best approach would be a deep cleaning  -- inside and out -- followed by  a conditioning of the leather.

The second option -- not selected as it would have slightly changed the "look" of the handbag -- would have been to clean and recondition the leather and then refinish the leather (read "re-dye" or "repaint") to a color that closely matched the original color.

The downside of the second option is that the color on the contrasting stitching would disappear. In other words, when the handbag is refinished, the stitching would also be refinished to the same color as the handbag.

What we did

During the course of the cleaning process, we:

  • Hand cleaned the exterior brown leather, removing the water stain, the oil stains (to the extent possible), and the soiling that had accumulated over the years.
  • Reconditioned the exterior leather.
  • Hand cleaned the interior lining, removing the soiling that had accumulated over the years.
  • Re-cleaned the interior lining with a virucide, killing 99.9% of all bacteria and germs.
  • Cleaning and restoring handbags that are of sentimental value require an understanding of the circumstances and extreme TLC @ravefabricare

The transformation

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

RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale, Arizona cleans and restores gandbags and other accessories of sentimental value

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:

Handbags, purses, wallets and backpacks that are of great sentimental value 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, Canada and other selected countries.

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