5 Amazing Hacks to Restore Old Leather Bags

The leather bag is a true classic when it comes to stylish accessories. Not only is it a versatile piece that can complement nearly any outfit, but it’s also incredibly durable and practical. 

Unfortunately, leather handbags can be quite expensive and may lose their color, shine, and shape if not properly cared for. 

We’ve put together a list of simple tricks you can use to restore dingy or vintage leather bags to their original glory. Instead of immediately buying a new bag when the color begins to fade or the stitches start to come apart, why not try repairing your bag at home! 

Here are 5 amazing hacks you can use to restore old leather bags. 

1.   Replacing Torn Stitches 

Torn stitches and undone seams are two of the most common problems you might encounter with aging bags. Because leather is such a rugged and thick material, the thread is far more likely to break or fall apart over time than the actual bag itself. 

Luckily, you can easily replace torn stitches at home using a sewing machine. Although some sewing machines are better for stitching leather than others, all you really need is a standard machine, a Teflon foot, and a heavy-duty leather needle. 

For broken seams, simply turn your bag inside out and stitch along the existing seam as you would with any other sewing project. Examine the other edges in order to determine the proper seam allowance and be sure to select a heavy-duty polyester or nylon thread that matches the original stitching on the bag.  

2.   Eliminate Scratches With Baby Oil 

Like a lot of natural materials, leather is prone to minor scuffs and scratches. While scratch marks are not always noticeable on newer bags, they tend to be a pretty big eye sore on older bags, which can accumulate hundreds of dings and marks over long periods of time. 

One of the easiest hacks for removing scratch marks is to rub them out with baby oil. Oil interacts with and blends into the leather to eliminate the appearance of discoloration. Although any kind of oil works, baby oil is preferable because it is particularly mild oil and does not contain any added chemicals.

Dip a cotton swab or lint-free cloth into the oil and rub it into the area surrounding the scratch mark in a circular motion. Allow the oil to dry into the bag for several hours before wiping it away with a clean cloth. 

3.   Remove Dirt and Stains With Dish Soap 

One of the easiest ways to give your old bag a complete makeover is by simply cleaning it to remove dirt and stains. 

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always need to use a bar of special saddle soap or leather cleaner to clean your leather bag. One of the most effective home remedies is dish soap! 

Using a clean cloth, apply a small amount of dish soap to dirty spots, ink stains, or dull areas and gently rub the soap in a circular motion.

Be careful not to use other household cleaning products like disinfectant wipes, bleach, or antibacterial hand soaps. These products all contain chemicals that can eat away at the leather or cause permanent discoloration. 

4.   Find the Perfect Leather Dye at the Shoe Store 

Handbags experience a lot more general wear and tear than other leather products, especially if they are being used every day. In order to repair worn areas where the leather has become significantly faded, you need to apply a little bit of leather dye. 

Instead of scouring the internet for leather dye to match your bag, simply bring the bag to your local shoe store. Most stores carry shoe polish in a wide range of colors and tints, and sales associates can help color match the perfect shade for your leather bag. 

Just be sure to test the polish on a small, inconspicuous area before you apply it to the rest of the bag. 

5.   Stuff the Bag to Restore Its Shape

Finally, you can restore misshapen or dented handbags to their original shape by stuffing them with crumpled newspaper, linens, or balled-up socks. 

Use a hairdryer or clothing steamer to gently heat the bag in order to loosen up any dents and make the leather more pliable. While the bag is still warm, stuff it as full as you can. Bedsheets and thin linens work best as they have a smooth, even surface that fills the bag equally throughout. 

As the bag cools down, the leather will reset and the bag will take on its original shape. 


Leather bags will last forever, but only if they are properly taken care of. These 5 amazing hacks can completely transform old bags, restoring them to their original condition and breathing new life into forgotten accessories. 

Still, the best way to ensure your handbag lasts is to protect it from damage in the first place. Apply a leather conditioner regularly and store your bags upright to keep them looking good as new. 

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