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How to Dye a Leather Handbag

Updated February 21, 2017

Most women have a favourite purse and carry it day in and day out. Leather fades with age and use, and before you know it that cherished accessory looks destined for the garbage. However, there's no need to panic and rush out to shop for a new one. Leather handbags can be dyed to bring them back to life, and dyeing your own bag can be done at home with just a few simple items.

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  1. Choose a shade of dye that is similar in colour to your purse. If you don't care for the existing colour, select a different one. A darker shade of dye will work, but trying to lighten a darker purse can ruin the leather.

  2. Slip your gloves on and apply a small amount of alcohol to a rag, rubbing it gently over the exterior of the purse. The alcohol acts to clean the leather, removing dirt and oil left by your hands. If the fabric liner inside the purse is dirty, you can wipe it down as well.

  3. Cover your work surface with a few layers of old newspaper. The newspaper will soak up any dye that drips from the leather and prevent it from staining your work surface.

  4. Pour a small amount of dye on a clean rag and rub it gently into the leather, working in small circles to press the dye into the pores of the leather. Coat the large surfaces of the purse first, then move on to the straps or handles. Set the purse upright and allow it to dry overnight.

  5. Add another coat of dye to the purse, evening out any blotches or streaks left behind by the first coat. If the purse is still not dark enough, you can keep adding layers of dye until the leather reaches your preferred shade.

  6. Tip

    You can use shoe polish if you cannot find regular leather dye. Leather dye can be purchased at larger craft stores. If there are no craft stores in your area, you can purchase shoe dye at most supermarkets and shoe stores. Just make sure you don't use the sponge applicator that came with the polish, as it can leave uneven spots on your purse.


    Never dye your purse without gloves. Leather dye is extremely difficult to remove and can stain your hands if it comes in contact with your skin.

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Things You'll Need

  • Leather dye
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Clean rags
  • Alcohol
  • Newspapers

About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

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