How to give a mini spa to patent leather handbags?

How to give a mini spa to patent leather handbags?

Take you to the backend operation to have a glimpse of what happened after we took in consignment items.

May be I shouldn't call it a spa, call it a maintenance instead.

Got a patent leather WOC came in, and immediately noticed a fair amount of dust and dirt, particularly built up around the CC logo. Can't let it pass cuz it will be more striking on photos. Anyway, after a communication with the seller about my plan, with her consent, I proceeded to work on the bag for photo shooting.

I do not claim to be any leather expert here. I am sharing these things because I believe anyone can try it at home and save money.

For an in-depth bag spa or treatment, I recommend consulting with professionals. 



Nothing Fancy. You can get the tools online or from the local hardware stores. They are:

Tools for DIY mini bag spa


  • Vaseline 
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Microfabric Cloth (New)
  • Baby wipe
  • Q tips
  • Toothpick (new or at least not previously used on someone's mouth)
  • Cleaning Slime
  • Air Duster 
  • Plastic tweezers

Other than the air duster, the rest of them cost a few dollars each.


Get rid of the dirt.

Air blows the surface and inside the bag.



I have with me this USB air duster; it is my third and the best. It is powerful and makes life lots easier when working with the lining of the bag. I got it online. Until a better product surfaces, I will stay with this one for the time being.

Then I use cleaning slime to get rid of the tough ones. Dust tends to stick stubbornly on patent leather. Someone suggests leather balm. But I notice dirt along, and between stitches, leather balm seems to glue them more firmly than lifting them away. 

slime dusting

Severe dust problem along stitches is very unusual. That said, I have a short video on it, and I hope to share it soon. 


Okay. A note on cleaning Slime. Time for Chemistry 101, Uh-OH! 


I'm not a chemist either. Please feel free to skip the following two paragraphs; they could be trivial. In short, it is okay to use cleaning slime on patent leather.

Patent Leather goes through a treatment of putting a layer of Polyurethane (PU) lacquer. It can get sticky over time, particularly in a hot and humid environment. Along with sweat, it works to its adversary quickly. 

PU reaction

I won't go further and steer off from the main topic, just one more reminder. Keep acetone and alcohol solvent or substance absolutely away from coming in contact with patent leather. It will dissolve or melt the lacquer. On the other hand, most cleaning slim is borax base (Boric acid, if mixed with water) According to my search, Polyurethane has no chemical action to or excellent resistance property to that. 


Get rid of the stickiness.

One of the traditions I came across suggesting again simply to apply over the area with leather balm (expensive type). I asked around for balm suggestion one time; it turned out some products do not even have a list of ingredients printed on the bottle; I'm not too fond of the ambiguity. Just can't get over myself allowing some unknow substance on a delicate product costs a couple thousand dollars. Besides, I found some balms may not be an effective solution on patent leather; it leaves a layer of dull-looking residue.

Instead, I have adopted a method of Vaseline + Mineral Spirits for a much effective and affordable solution.

Macwilliam K. Appianing, in one of his blogs, details a "Seven Ways to Fix Patent Leather Sticky Problem. You may click here to read it.


vaseline over cloth wip cloth wipe 2


On the photo to the left, I deliberated adding more Vaseline to have a better display effect. In general, an evenly thin layer will do. For this WOC, there is not much of an issue of stickiness. Like in most other cases, periodic touch-up maintenance is sufficient to avoid the problem.

No worry about the applying direction; it does not matter at this stage. Just make sure no spot missed out without Vaseline.

I started with the back first. Just a reminder, if you are not sure, first try it on one or two quits located in the front covered by the flap.

Let it sits for 30 minutes. The duration is not critical; it is just for the ease of job scheduling. One time I forgot about a bag and leaving it overnight covered with Vaseline, didn't notice a difference.

Then, pour mineral spirits onto a cloth to moist and slightly damped, not soaked. Use a new white microfiber cloth, I insist. Use new microfiber cloth on patent leather; the stake is too high for unexpected scratches caused by the used or washed fabric. White colour reveals possible colour transfer and other possible issues. Cut the cloth to size to save money; toss it after each job. I never let it sit overnight to avoid confusion and mess. 

Try on a tiny spot first, say on one of the broken triangle quilts at the bottom (That's why the cloth should not be soaked). Check the fabric and the leather surface for any issues. Otherwise, proceed to the rest of the area.

Gently, wipe in a circular motion. Repeat several times for maximum results. Finally, use another clean, new and dry cloth to wipe the entire area for a final touch.

Repeat the procedure to the other side.

Let it sits upright in a well-air-circulated space for a day.

It should work like magic. It likely takes practice to find out 'how much work' is the correct amount for the job; no big deal. 


Mineral Spirits is not a pleasant-smelling substance. It can be intimidating and a deterrent factor to some. 

One concern is if the odor stays on with the bag. For delicate leather products like Chanel, I never a problem, so far that is. 

That is the reason why I put down in detail the procedure for your reference. Again, the cloth damped but not soaked. Work on one side at a time. Sit the bag upright in an air-circulated space. Rub it with a new and dry cloth. Last but not least, keeping the rest of the surfaces from coming in contact with mineral spirits. On the WOC, Chanel uses patent leather on the front and back; the side is aniline, or semi-aniline leather, very absorbent to liquid filtration. Be careful of that.


Detailing: CC logo

Dirt, grease and dust trapped around the CC logo is a common issue. In our case here it is more severe, suggesting the owner had a habit of holding the bag in her palm.

Tools: Baby Wipes/ Q tips /Toothpick/ Plastic Tweezers

Dip the area directly or using Q tips with perfume-free baby wipes. I used Q Tips to give some really good rubs.

baby wipe Q-tip toothpick 

The metal CC logo is a cap fastened to the socket. Due to the shape design, it is a heaven for building up grease and dirt. I used a plastic toothpick to get to the space right underneath the logo.

Dry and rub it clean with a new cloth.

I used plastic tweezers to pick out trapped fiber strings.



Take a closer look on the before and after photos. I love the improvement. It justified the labor.

Finally, I air dusted the bag for one last time.



In conclusion

For total of about an hour of labor (excluding the time letting the bag standing), I have a clean, beautiful Chanel Wallet on Chain ready for photo shootings.





Try it yourself.




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