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Bag It! A Guide to Handbag Care

We know how much time, energy and money you invested to acquire that perfect handbag. Margaret’s created the tooling, techniques and procedures needed to maintain and even restore its original appearance.

Download a PDF file of Bag ItThrough our Pulito Purse Service, Margaret’s Cleaners has been cleaning all types of purses and handbags for many years. The extent of our experience with a wide variety of designer bags places us at the top of the list of such specialists in North America. The following are just a few of the designer names we service routinely:

Burberry Hermes Nicole Miller
Chanel Isabella Fiore Prada
Christian Dior Juicy Couture Ralph Lauren
Coach Loro Piana Salvatore Ferragamo
Eric Javits Louis Vuitto Yves Saint Laurent
Gucci Michael Kors Valentino...and more

Bag Styles

A host of different shapes and sizes exist, all with their own name and description. Pulito Purse Service is prepared to take on the cleaning and repair needs for any style of bag. The sketches below show of some of the most common purse shapes.

How About Other Items?

In addition to a large variety of styles and shapes of purses and handbags, there are also a variety of types of personal leather products, which you may have occasion to acquire and care for. These include:

Billfold Calculator Case Business Card Case
Change Purse Cigarette Case Cosmetic Case
Credit Card Case Datebook/Organizer Eyeglass Case
French Purse Jewelry Roll Key Case
Passport Case Travel Kit Wallet

Cautions & Considerations

First I Look at the Purse, Rod Stewart

Consider your use when making a purchase decision. If you plan casual use of a light-colored bag with dark clothing, such as dark denim or dyed leather jackets, you may encounter a problem with dye transferring from the clothes onto the purse. The opposite is also true….a dark purse can transfer its dye onto your lighter-colored clothing. This transfer or rubbing off of color is generally the result of improper dying, poor dye penetration, or incomplete fixation in the manufacturing process. It is called “crocking.” The biggest challenges we face in restoring such damaged items are denim dye transfer onto vinyl and PVC, and staining on patent leather handbags. We have developed a remedy to dramatically reduce the extent of crocking by suede bags. Please contact us should this be a problem you have experienced.

Please read our "In the News" item from InStyle Magazine for more information on Denim Dye Transfer.

Another consideration is that handbag straps, hardware and even just the normal edges of a handbag may actually damage more fragile garments, depending on how you carry your bag. Also, satin and some knits can easily be snagged by a bag.

What Affects Durability?

Ralph Lauren bag before and after cleaningSome designs, styles and materials of handbags lend themselves to being more durable over time. They’re easier to clean and maintain. If you really enjoy your handbags, want to keep them nice, and use them at least through an entire season before purchasing again, consider some of these experiences we have had.

Construction & Cleaning

Many bags and accessories consist of a variety of materials. Some common examples are leather and canvas with a fabric interior, or polished leather edges with suede panels and a shiny satin interior. A mixture of materials can require multiple cleaning and refurbishment techniques, adding to the cost of servicing. In addition, contrasting stitching complicates a refinishing process.

You also have metal hardware to consider. Be careful when polishing metal. Metal polish may cause damage if it spreads into the other materials of the bag.

Prada white bag when leather bled into fabricFor most handbags, no single cleaner or cleaning technique can be used. If the wrong chemical is used, it creates serious problems if it bleeds between the leather and the fabric of the purse.

The clothing industry requires that content and care labels be included in garments. There is no such requirement placed on handbag manufacturers to inform consumers of the materials used in their products or to provide care instructions. Often all we have is an “educated guess” at what materials have been used and how they will respond to cleaning — a skill that comes with extensive experience.

Prada bag after cleaning

What Is It Made Of?

Leathers Sources

Leathers come in a wide variety of types and textures. The most common are noted below.

  • CALFSKIN is made from the hide of young cattle. It has a beautiful soft, smooth texture and is found in the finest handbags.
  • GOATSKIN and Pigskin are both very soft and supple and quite durable. Pigskin is one of the most popular leathers used for suedes and has a follicle pattern where the hair has been removed. Goatskin is softer than cowhide, tougher than sheepskin and has a distinctive texture in its finish.
  • KIP (steerhide) from a slightly older animal, is not as fragile as calfskin, but also not as fine and supple.
  • COWHIDE is from a full-grown animal and produces a grained leather, quite commonly used in casual handbags.
  • SHEEP AND LAMBSKIN create a lighter, fine-grained leather often used in imported handbags.
  • REPTILE SKINS used in handbags come from various types of snakes, turtles and lizards. They are distinguished from other types of leathers because of the elaborate patterns and textures created by the scales. Reptile skins are a challenge to clean because the pearly or scaled finish is easily damaged in cleaning and requires the skills of an experienced technician.
  • CROCODILE is highly exotic, fashionable and expensive. It’s very strong, supple and durable. Most skins now come from farm-raised crocodiles to prevent them from becoming an endangered species.
  • OSTRICH SKIN is a naturally water-resistant, durable and supple leather known for its distinct quilll follicle patterns.
  • EELSKIN, FISH SKIN, EXOTIC SKINS: If not in bad shape, these types of "skin" purses will hold up well in cleaning. As with reptile skins, extreme care must be taken to prevent damage and maintain the overall color and texture.

Juicy Couture Bag with Mildew stainsLeather Finishes

There are many types of leather finishes and treatments used to create the huge variety of colors and appearances of leather handbags. The kind of finish greatly affects the ease of cleaning and maintenance of a handbag.

Leather goods have an additional variable — the technique used to apply color during the manufacturing process. Those with a harder, stiffer surface are generally “painted” leather. Nicer, richly-colored leather items that are extremely soft and supple are generally an example of “dyed” leather and require more labor intensive maintenance in comparison to painted leather bags.

  • PAINTED LEATHER creates a smooth, polished finish and is the easiest to maintain or refurbish if it becomes necessary. This type of leather is durable, repels stains, and is generally more difficult to get dirty than dyed leather bags. Stains such as oil or ink can still embed themselves into a painted leather handbag, and require professional cleaning or repainting to cover stains that can’t be completely removed. Painted leather can be wiped with a damp cloth if you need to remove surface dirt. But this won’t help oil-based stains.
  • DYED LEATHER absorbs moisture, soil, stains, and spills, which easily change its color. Each time a stain is cleaned, the area may also need to be touched up and redyed to match the rest of the leather. To make it even more difficult, a nice handbag could contain both painted and dyed leathers, in addition to having a contrasting fabric interior.
  • ANTIQUED LEATHER creates a mottled, mellow, smooth finish. Grain is accentuated by deliberate shrinking of the leather during processing. Again, the wrong cleaning process may cause the bag to lose its unique finish.
  • SUEDE is a treatment done to the inside of a skin and has a velvet, napped finish. Suede has no natural protective barrier and is very prone to soiling and staining. An extremely delicate dyed suede is susceptible to scuffing, and being flattened by wear. It is easily ruined if it is rubbed too hard. Although it is often time-consuming to clean, and some loss of its original color may occur in the process, most suede handbags can look excellent after cleaning, providing the nap of the suede is in good condition.
  • NUBUCK is similar in look and feel to suede but is actually a process done to the outside of a skin. Its surface has been dyed, buffed and brushed to create a soft, velvety effect. Because the protective surface has been removed, it is also difficult to maintain and easily damaged.
  • PATENT LEATHER is the extremely high gloss finish you see on handbags. During the final steps of tanning, a varnish, lacquer or vinyl coating is applied to leather to achieve the glossy effect. It’s described as “chic, elegant, classy & sexy” by many, and “touted” for how “easy” it is to keep looking good. In reality, it can be hard to maintain its appearance, and even harder or impossible to recover the finish once it’s dulled, damaged or scuffed. If simple cleaning is needed, wipe it with a soft cloth after every use. Be very careful to not scratch the surface while wiping. To prevent dye transfer, do not store touching other items (more information on storing handbags).

Never use grease or Vaseline. It will shine for a while and then start destroying the finish and collecting dust. Also, once patent leather is scuffed or scratched, almost nothing will completely restore the smooth, glossy finish. The damaged area will still be evident even with the most advanced techniques.

In our experienced opinion, patent leather is really not a good option for handbags (or shoes) that you intend to use routinely. Many other types of leather finishes will provide better durability over time. But patent leather accessories sure do look classy for special events.

  • EMBOSSING is a pressed treatment which uses a die to reproduce the look of grains and other patterns seen on the leather surfaces. A “natural” reptile grain can be embossed on smooth leather to give it the effect of a reptile skin.

suede Prada Handbag before and after cleaningCleaning soiled embossed handbags required special care because the pressure and effort needed to remove stains and discoloration may also reduce the depth of the embossing. In addition, cleaning chemicals and soaps penetrate into the embossed texture differently in different areas of the handbag, depending on how much use or rubbing it’s received. This can actually change the depth of color in different areas of the handbag. The cleaning technician must be very careful with embossed bags.

There are so many different possibilities, that Margaret’s recommends you let our experienced professionals care for your favorite leather handbags. We don’t recommend any home remedies for designer labels because of the investment you’ve made.

Imitation Leathers

Plastics, vinyl, PVC, and polyurethane are often used to imitate leather, patent leather, suede, and straw textures. Since manufacturers are not required to put content or care labels on their purses, it can be difficult to really know what it’s made of. Man-made materials are often more difficult to clean than real leathers. PVC is especially prone to permanent staining. Depending on the cost of the bag, it may or may not be worth the expense of professional cleaning.

Fabrics & Other Materials

Practically every fabric used to make a garment can also be found in a handbag or its lining. The cleaning techniques used on these materials are much the same as those used on the same materials when they occur in clothing. Other common materials are:

  • STRAW: willow and wicker are real straw; Pontova, synthetic straw; Toyo, crocheted paper straw.
  • BURLAP: the course and bumpy cloth often used in casual bags
  • CANVAS: a durable, good-looking, extremely popular fabric in handbags.
  • DUCK: a heavier type of canvas
  • CORDUROY: a problem when the nap of the corduroy is crushed. Original texture may not be able to be fully restored.
  • LINEN: colors can bleed, the fabric can’t be scrubbed, or fibers may loosen up and become “fuzzy.” Requires delicate hand cleaning.
  • Delicate beaded white handbad before and afterVELVET: available in solids, prints and cut velvets, has a high luster and rich feel ideal for dressy bags. Problems occur when the nap is crushed. Restoring the velvet nap is possible with some bags. In addition, on some velvets, the original color may change when chemicals are applied to clean soiled areas.
  • PEAU DE SOIE: a silk or artificial fabric with a smooth texture and a fine grainy or ribbed surface, often used in evening bags.
  • FAILLE: a slightly ribbed, woven fabric of silk, wool, cotton, or rayon.
  • TAPESTRY & RUG MATERIALS: fairly durable. Make sure it’s colorfast!
  • GROS POINTE OR PETIT POINT: types of needlepoint. Petit point is a fine hand-made cross stitch, almost always imported.
  • SILK BROCADE, CREPE, BENGALINE, MOIRÉ AND SATIN: often used for elegant evening bags. We use extreme care with handbags that use these fabrics. Improper rubbing required to remove stains will remove the sheen of the fabric as well. Because of our experience with wedding gowns, we have developed customized chemical combinations which help maintain the sheen of these materials when they’re used in handbags.
  • needlepoint handbagRAYON AND RAYON BLENDS: generally easy to clean. A good choice.
  • VELOUR: a fabric similar to velvet with a thick soft nap which makes it luxurious to the touch. Usually made from cotton which makes it plush, relatively easy to care for, and less likely than velvet to be damaged by use.
  • METALLIC FABRICS: As with silks above, metallic fabrics are more difficult to clean and still maintain their original sheen. They are also highly subject to shrinking unexpectedly, and tarnish is an additional concern if improperly cared for.
  • FUR: not very durable when used in a handbag.
  • PAPERBOARD: a common inside material of handbags. Don’t get it wet! Warping will be the result.

  • NOVELTY FABRICS: cleanability depends on the item. Colorfast is critical.
  • EELSKIN, FISH SKIN, OTHER EXOTIC SKINS: If not in bad shape, these types of “skin” purses will hold up well in cleaning. As with reptile skins, extreme care must be taken to prevent damage and maintain the overall color and texture.

Juicy Couture Velour handbag before and after cleaning

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I do if I don’t reside near you?

With Margaret’s CleanByMail® service, we can clean your bag no matter where you live! Handbags are one of our most popular CleanByMail items! Download our simple CleanByMail form off the website and mail your handbag to us. For an estimate before you send it, use the Purse Estimate Request form on our website. We’ll call or email you back promptly. Complimentary webcam consultation is also available.

Is there anything I should do to a suede purse before I use it?

The best thing you can do to a new suede handbag is to have a professional application of a stain and water repellant applied to it…the interior lining as well as the exterior.

What are the hardest stains to remove?

Ink, oil and make up are some of the worst. Crocking (dye transfer) on leathers is generally very removable...this is not so true for PVC and patent leather handbags.

Can you treat my purse so it won’t get stained again?

Depending on the purse, if a protective finish can be applied, we may be able to make it much easier to clean next time it gets stained. Keep in mind that there are some materials that cannot be treated with a stain protector. e.g.: patent leather, and many of the imitation leathers that are any type of plastic, vinyl or polyurethane. This treatment must be done professionally or the color of the bag may darken.

Do you clean the inside lining or do other repairs?

Yes, cleaning the lining is included in our general cleaning service. Some types of stains (ink is one) may not come out entirely, however most clients are very impressede with how much the lining can be cleaned up. We are also able to repair or replace zippers and other hardware such as worn rivets and metal strips.

Are all purses water resistant?

Water resistance is not naturally built into any purse unless the manufacturer specifically performs the process on their bags. The only way to be sure is to have it done yourself. Many materials are prone to water spots and discoloring if not treated. A good water and stain repellant will help that bag last longer too. Again however, not all types of materials found in handbags can be treated with a water repellant. Also, if not professionally applied, a water repellant may change the color of the bag.

Prada makeover before restoration

Prada Handbag after re-dying and restoration

Can you restore my handbag?

Depending on the materials, age and general condition of a bag, sometimes much can be done to restore a distressed handbag. We’d have to see it to be able to evaluate the possibilities and give you an estimate for restoration. This is a perfect time to take advantage of our complimentary webcam consultation service.

Can you dye my handbag a different color?

Often this can be done, but dying a bag can be problematic. If the thread is a synthetic fiber it may not take dye the same as the bag. Keep in mind that lining cannot be dyed to match. Also, often the texture of the bag will change in the process. When edges become worn, the original color may show through.

What caused my handbag to develop white spots and a musty odor while it was in storage for the Winter?

That sounds like mildew. Mildew is a fungus that loves to grow on leathers and textiles in the moist, warm, dark storage areas. First it grows on the top surface, staining and discoloring it. Eventually it can actually damage the item. Mildew is not easy to completely eliminate, depending on how long it’s been allowed to grow. Often ozone treatment is needed to eliminate the odor. For more information on mold and mildew see our newsletter on the website entitled “A Mold and Mildew Primer.”

How can I clean soil from my new suede handbag?

If the bag has only surface dirt and no grease you may want to try a few things yourself. Always test an inconspicuous area of the bag before working on a visible surface. Try a suede brush. The brushes with both nylon and brass bristles work well. Do not over brush because you can thin the suede. If that doesn’t work try a suede eraser. Again, don’t overdo it. If there is grease associated with the stain, don’t attempt to work on it at all. Your efforts will rub the grease in and make cleaning a more difficult challenge.

Is there anything I can do to remove ink from a suede bag?

Ink on ANY purse is a difficult stain to remove, even for an experienced cleaner. Dyes on suede and leather garments are not as color fast as one would desire. Often it is necessary to remove some dye along with the ink then replace the dye. This is an intensive process depending on the color of the suede. Be sure to ask your leather cleaning service how well they do with ink before entrusting them with the item. Again we recommend allowing Margaret’s to handle it.

Stain Protection, Care, Storage & Cleaning

Stain Protection

The best preventive maintenance you can do when you first purchase your new handbag is to have it professionally “Scotchgarded” inside and out as a water and stain repellant. This will work on many types of handbag materials, with the exception of patent leather and PVC. When accidents occur later in its life, the chances of recovering from them will be greatly enhanced. We recommend that the protection be renewed every time you have your bag professionally cleaned. WARNING! If Scotchgard is improperly applied, it can change the appearance of a bag. Look for a professional to do it for you.

Regular Maintenance

In general, if a stain happens, have your bag cleaned as soon as possible. As with clothing stains, the longer you wait, the harder anything will be to remove. Every material type will have a different response to normal everyday stains. Here are some suggestions for general everyday care of your handbags.

  • SUEDE – We recommend that you use a suede brush several times a season to keep the surface of the suede in good condition.
  • PAINTED (finished) LEATHER – Use a clean, oil-free, dry cloth to spruce up.
  • DYED LEATHER – Use a soft, oil-free polishing cloth to wipe it down.
  • FABRIC PURSES – Use a brush and a damp cloth to remove light soil.

Additional Suggestions for Leather & Suede

Regular conditioning of the leather and renewal of its stain and soil protection is a must to keep the skins pliable and supple. Keep in mind that all leathers have irregularities, fillers and glue on them that may break down during cleaning and become more apparent. Because age sets stains, lets oils oxidize, and makes them extremely stubborn to remove, it’s especially important with leather handbags to have them cleaned before they get too soiled. Another feature, which could become apparent after cleaning, would be “mismatched” skins. If the front and back of your purse did not come off the same animal, differences may be more pronounced after cleaning.

Patent Leather

Gently wipe it off often, as mentioned under “patent leather” at the bottom of page 6. Be careful not to scuff or scratch your patent leather items. Handle and wear with care. Damage in the glossy surface often cannot be remedied. Also, do not allow patent leather to come in contact with anything else during storage. Irrepairable dye transfer may result.


Maintenance of fabric handbags is the same as what you would do for clothing of similar materials. The mixtures of materials found in bags...linen exterior, leather trim, brass hardware, silk lining, etc. require a variety of cleaning technologies.

Purse hook from Margaret's keeps a Louis Vuitton bag off the floorHandbag Hygiene

Keep your purse or handbag off the floor everywhere you go. Even sitting next to you on a restaurant seat is not recommended. Children’s shoes could easily have been there a few minutes ago. Also, never put your handbag on a surface such as a kitchen counter where raw meat and eggs are handled, a kitchen table or a desk at work where food is eaten.

An Inexpensive Solution

The purse hook is a small 4” x 1” hook, shorter than a pen. There are a variety of colors and it includes a small velvet carrying case, which fits easily in almost any bag. Use it in restaurants, theaters, at poolside, and in the office. Hangs easily on the edge of a table, desk, kitchen counter, arm of a chair, etc. It will hold as much as 35 pounds. Hang a purse, jacket, scarf, umbrella, or briefcase on it. The top part has a non-skid backing. Keeping your handbag off the floor will go a long way toward keeping it clean.

Have Your Handbags Cleaned More Often

Margaret's purse hookIn 2006, ABC news published an article entitled “Your Purse Could be Making You Sick.” The following is an excerpt from the article concerning bacteria found on purses.

Women rarely go anywhere without a purse, which means that if a woman enters a place full of germs, so does her bag. That could mean she ends up carrying around microbes all day long that could make her sick.

Microbiologist Chuck Gerba researches where organisms that make us sick lurk, and lately he says he has found that germs (including eColi and Hepatitis, fecal bacteria, cold viruses, etc.) gather on the outside of a woman’s purse, especially on the bottom.” (Link to entire ABC News article)

Additional Handling Suggestions

Light colored leather straps on a handbag will darken over time because of the oils in your skin.
Be especially careful
with lotions when carrying such a bag.
  • As mentioned in the InStyle afticle on this website, we have seen a great many problems with dye transferring from clothes to handbags and from handbags to clothing. Fortunately, we have been highly successful in cleaning most of these bags. The most common culprit is denim, where some dye is still in the surface of the fabric. As for handbags, almost any dyed leather can be a culprit. Try to be aware of what you are wearing and how you handle your handbag.
  • Leather and suede easily absorb body oils and stains. Be aware of where your handbag is sitting and what it is exposed to. If kernels of buttered popcorn at a movie theater drop on that suede purse, plan on a professional cleaning job.
  • These handling suggestions also apply to mens’ briefcases, and students’ cloth backpacks, both of which probably sit on dirty floors even more often than handbags. Note: Cloth is more susceptible to bacterial growth than leather.

Coach handbag before and after cleaning

Yves Saint Laurent Mildew on handbag


  • Never store your purses in the bottom of a closet. Leather is hygroscopic and will absorb the excess moisture (especially on slab floors), which causes mold and mildew.
  • Avoid storing purses in plastic bags. Always use breathable fabric duster bags (even clean pillowcases) to protect them from dust and control moisture damage. Consider Margaret’s custom manufactured purse storage bags. Available in 2 sizes, 14”x16” and 18”x20”, and constructed of breathable polypropylene.
  • Don't store your handbag in contact with contact with other items. This is a serious problem with patent leather especially. If dye transfer occurs it often cannot be remedied. (Refer to our "InStyle" article for more information.)
  • Margaret’s purse storage bags protect from both dust and insect damage.
  • Find a dark, dry, cool area with good air circulation for storing your nice handbags. Generally avoid attics and basements.

Prada bag and Margaret's Purse storage bagsCleaning

It is very important to have your handbag cleaned as soon as possible after it becomes soiled. When it’s just light or moderately soiled the chances of a good result are much better. Our Pulito cleaning procedures for handbags generally include the following steps:

  • Stain removal
  • Hand clean outer surfaces
  • Hand clean the lining
  • Hand clean strap and hardware
  • Dye rejuvenation (if applicable)
  • Steam finishing
  • Stain repellant (if desired)
  • Packaging (breathable purse storage bag included with every order)

References, Glossary & Testimonials


We have links to several interesting sites including several manufacturer’s websites, purse blogs, and general information, at www.margarets.com Purse Services page.

Brief Glossary of Purse Terms (see diagrams above)

Box rigid bag shaped purse, square or rectangle in shape, with a variety of metal, bone, shell or wooden handles.
Bucket roomy bag shaped like a bucket, usually has an open top and shoulder strap.
Canteen Bag a round, stiff bag that resembles a traveler’s water flask. Canteen bags typically have a shoulder strap.
Card Case a hard case typically the perfect size and shape to hold business cards.
Carpet Bag a large satchel-like bag, typically used for carry-on luggage and made out of carpet fabric.
Change Purse a small purse just large enough to hold loose change. May be attached to a handbag; closes with a zipper, clasp or snap.
Clutch a bag with no handles that must be carried clasped in one hand or under the arm.
Convertible Bag a bag with a handle that can be tucked or folded inside, in order to turn it into a clutch.
Drawstring a soft bag with a gathered drawstring closure. The drawstring, once cinched, may form into purse straps or have a separate strap.
Envelope a flat, square or rectangular bag with a triangle-shaped top flap that folds over like an envelope.
Feed Bag a drawstring bag, usually with a shoulder strap, shaped like a horse’s feed bag; also referred to as a bucket bag.
Fishing Creel a woven basket with a flap top and shoulder strap; originally carried by fly fishermen to keep their catch fresh.
Flight Bag used by passengers and crew to carry on belongings aboard a plane, often has a flight insignia and used instead of a tote bag.
Half Moon Bag any bag shaped like a half moon, with or without a handle of various sizes.
Hobo Bag a soft, large bag that has a zip top and shoulder strap. Tends to crunch down when carried or laid down.
Minaudiere a small evening bag embezzled with pieces of metal, semi precious stones or beads and covered with fabric or leather.
Muff a winter bag made of real or faux fur, wool or velvet that has zippered compartments and a slip opening for your hands.
Pouch a gathered or straight bag evening bag.
Quilted Bag is quilted in texture and typically has a chain strap or handle.
Safari a soft leather bag with a curved shape, a top zipper, two top straps or handles, and two outside pockets with flaps and buckle closures.
Satchel a bag with a wide, flat bottom, zippered or clasped top, two handles or straps. The satchel style was inspired by a piece of luggage and can be various sizes such as the doctors bag.
School Bag a roomy bag with a snap, clasp or buckle top flap and one wide shoulder strap; often a thicker variation of the envelope bag.
Swagger a roomy, framed bag with two straps or handles, open outside pockets and a zippered or clasped open top.
Tote a bag inspired by a shopping bag, which is sturdy and rectangular with an open top and two strap handles. The inside may have zip compartments.

How Can We Help You? Some of Our Favorite Testimonials

Allow some of Margaret’s satisfied customers to share their handbag cleaning challenges with you and how we were able to meet and/or exceed their expectations.

I almost donated my purse to charity. As a last resort for help to restore my bag, I went online. An ink stain on a white purse…who would’ve thought it could be saved? Certainly not me! You worked a miracle! My bag looks brand new! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” — Lorre D., Monroe, Washington

No one in Tucson would clean my bag and have confidence in the results. Thank you for the wonderful job you did on my handbag. I am giving your info to my local dry cleaner as they are very interested in being able to refer clients to you with similar problems as mine. — Elizabeth P., Tucson, Arizona

After my mother’s recent death, my sister and I divided up her collection of purses. I found Margaret’s on the internet and took a chance, believing I might be able to carry her bags if they could be restored. The lovely packaging was unexpected. I now know that if someday I decide to restore a friend’s bag as a surprise, that she would feel like she was receiving a new bag when the box arrives…the contents bagged and ribboned. — Nancy B., Lakewood, New York

I was initially very nervous about sending my $400+ purse to someone/someplace that I didn’t know, but the people I spoke with over the phone were so friendly and very professional—and my purse was back with me before I knew it. Now, I won’t send my purse anywhere else. Thanks for doing such a great job! — Michelle C., Lighthouse, Florida

Blue dye rubbed off on my Prada purse…My expectations were definitely exceeded. I plan to be a return customer and will recommend Margaret’s to anyone. Thank you! My purse looks like new again! — Lisa V., Canton, Michigan

…I’ve been looking everywhere in Hawaii to dry clean my Gucci purse…Excellent service! I’ll definitely refer friends and family. — Ashley M., Kapolei, Hawaii

Happy in Toronto! You really pulled off what I consider to be a miracle. This winter I delivered to you a [formerly] white Prada bag that was basically ruined by another dry cleaners last Fall. Several weeks later you returned to me a perfectly white Prada bag. It’s simply beautiful. Last fall, after the bag was ruined I put it away in my closet, horrified with what the local dry cleaners had done to it. After doing some research on the web I discovered you and thought you were my only hope. You spent a lot of time and effort in restoring this bag and I can’t thank you enough. I will definitely use you again in the future! (See photos of the bag above and the whole story under “Prada Disaster in Toronto” on our purse blog, pursecleaning.blogspot.com)

We Are Your Resource

As a Margaret’s client, you will discover that we will be available to answer your purse cleaning dilemmas and questions via email, by phone, or via our newest service, our webcam consultation.

Went on line — no one in Boston area does this kind of service…Was amazed — like brand new — afraid to use it now because of lime green color & I don’t want to get it soiled again. What would you suggest to keep it soft? — Kathie S., Boston, Massachusetts

(My) daughter is very happy with her purse…From Mr. Horst’s kind response to my daughter’s purse oil stain, to the CleanByMail Staff, everyone was so helpful! — Sandra C., Sarasota, Florida

Designers and Retailers Recommend Us to Their Clients

We currently work closely with designer boutiques and retail stores to assist them in cleaning and restoring handbags in stock and brought in by their customers. They in turn recommend our handbag services to their clients.

While at Neiman Marcus in San Diego, a wonderful sales girl recommended your store. Thank you for your exemplary workmanship. It’s a pleasure for me as a client! — Cindy E., La Jolla, California

Very professional. — Burberry, Fashion Valley, San Diego, California

Kale Palmer HandbagI was so pleased. I took my purse into “Coach” to show them. My favorite sales person, Angela, put your ad on their bulletin board & internet! Thanks. — Carla G. (CleanByMail)

I was referred by Louis Vuitton in Horton Plaza…Great job! I will let others know of your service and will be back. Thank you. — Leslie R., La Jolla, California

I just received my newly cleaned white Palmer back from Margaret’s! OGM! First of all, thank you! Second of all... what a class act! I feel like I just received the best gift in the world. What presentation! Great job finding them!”— forwarded by Melinda at Kale Handbags
(Margaret’s is Kale’s Certified Cleaner)

Margaret's Handbag-Related Specialty Services

CleanbyMail Service Nationwide

True couture-level custom dry cleaning is as close as your front door. Join our family of clients from across the nation who enjoy door-to-door couture cleaning services. At Margaret’s, our fully-equipped shipping department has the materials, resources and skill to ensure that your order arrives looking perfect.

Articles such as designer handbags, couture wedding gowns, St. John knits, silk neckties, scarves, and leather & suede garments, are examples of packages that arrive daily. CleanByMail handles general cleaning, difficult stain removal, knit blocking, reweaving, re-knitting, refinishing, preservation and much more.

How CleanByMail® Works

No prior arrangements are needed to use our CleanByMail service. Simply print out a CleanByMail request form from the CleanByMail page of our website, and include the completed form with your item for processing.

Webcam Consultation Service

Margaret's Chuck Horst during a webcam consultationMargaret’s has launched the nation’s first garment care webcam consultation service. This complimentary service is an addendum to our already popular CleanByMail service. The webcam now makes it possible for you to show an item to a garment consultant, who will assess the problem, discuss a remedy and provide an estimate...all before you ship your item to us for service.

To take advantage of this service, all that is needed is a computer with a webcam. A link from Margaret’s home page initiates the contact with the webcam to begin your complimentary consultation.



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