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How To Dye Leather Handbag


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Kaitlyn Jason



When it comes to leather handbags, sometimes the color might fade or become outdated, but that doesn’t mean you have to toss them aside. Dyeing a leather handbag is a fantastic way to give it new life and make it look brand new again. By changing the color of your handbag, you can match it with different outfits or simply update its appearance.


Dyeing a leather handbag may sound intimidating, but with the right knowledge and tools, it can be a fun and rewarding project. In this article, we will guide you through the process of dyeing your leather handbag step by step, ensuring a successful and professional-looking result.


Before we dive into the process, it’s essential to note that dyeing leather is irreversible. Once you dye your handbag, you won’t be able to go back to its original color. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose a dye color that you’ll be happy with for the long term.


Are you ready to learn how to transform your leather handbag into a fashion statement? Let’s get started with the first step: preparing the leather handbag.


Step 1: Preparing the Leather Handbag

Before you begin the dyeing process, it’s crucial to adequately prepare your leather handbag. Proper preparation ensures that the dye adheres to the leather surface evenly and creates a long-lasting color. Follow these steps to prepare your leather handbag:

  1. Clean the handbag: Start by wiping down the handbag with a damp cloth to remove any surface dirt or dust. Pay extra attention to the corners, seams, and edges. For stubborn stains, use a leather cleaner or mild soap diluted in water. Gently scrub the stained areas with a soft bristle brush and rinse with clean water. Allow the handbag to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
  2. Remove existing finish: If your handbag has a glossy or shiny finish, it’s essential to remove it before dyeing. Use a leather deglazer or acetone on a cotton ball or cloth to remove the existing finish. Apply the deglazer or acetone in small circular motions, working in sections. This step ensures that the dye penetrates the leather effectively and prevents any uneven color absorption.
  3. Test the dye: Before applying the dye to the entire handbag, it’s crucial to test it on a small, inconspicuous area. This test will help you assess the color and determine if any additional preparation is needed. Apply a small amount of dye to a hidden area and let it dry. Check the color and consider whether you need to adjust the dye concentration or apply a second coat for a more intense color.
  4. Protect hardware and accents: If your handbag has metal hardware, zippers, or decorative accents, you’ll want to protect them from the dye. Cover these areas with painter’s tape or apply a barrier cream to prevent the dye from staining the metal or damaging any delicate materials. Take care to tape or cover only the exposed metal parts without covering the leather surface.

By properly preparing your leather handbag, you ensure that the dye will be applied smoothly and have the best chance of achieving the desired color. Once you have completed the preparation steps, you’re ready to move on to the next stage: cleaning the leather handbag.


Step 2: Cleaning the Leather Handbag

Before you begin the dyeing process, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean your leather handbag. Cleaning the handbag ensures that the dye will adhere properly to the leather surface and create an even and long-lasting color. Follow these steps to clean your leather handbag:

  1. Remove any dirt or debris: Start by using a soft brush or cloth to gently brush away any loose dirt or debris from the surface of the handbag. Pay special attention to seams, corners, and pockets where dirt tends to accumulate.
  2. Choose the right cleaning solution: Depending on the type of leather and the extent of cleaning needed, you can use either a commercial leather cleaner or a homemade solution. If using a commercial cleaner, follow the instructions on the product label. If you prefer a DIY solution, you can create a gentle cleaning mixture by mixing equal parts water and mild soap, such as liquid castile soap.
  3. Test the cleaning solution: Before applying the cleaning solution to the entire handbag, it’s essential to test it on a small, inconspicuous area. Apply a small amount of the solution to a hidden area and gently rub it in using a soft cloth or sponge. Check if the color is unaffected and if the leather does not become overly damp. If there are no adverse effects, you can proceed to clean the entire handbag using the same method.
  4. Clean the handbag: Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the cleaning solution and gently scrub the leather surface in circular motions. Be careful not to use excessive force, as this can damage the leather. Pay attention to any stains or spots and continue to gently clean until they are lifted. For difficult stains, you may need to repeat the process or use a specialized leather stain remover.
  5. Rinse and dry: After cleaning the handbag, dampen a clean cloth with water and use it to remove any soap residue from the leather. Make sure to rinse thoroughly, as leftover soap can cause the leather to become sticky or dull. Once rinsed, use a dry cloth to gently pat dry the handbag. Avoid using a hairdryer or placing the handbag in direct sunlight to dry, as this can cause the leather to crack or fade. Allow the handbag to air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area.

By properly cleaning your leather handbag, you create a clean and receptive surface for the dye. Once you’ve completed the cleaning process, you’re ready to move on to the next step: choosing the dye to transform your handbag’s color.


Step 3: Choosing the Dye

Choosing the right dye is a critical step in the leather handbag dyeing process. The dye you select will determine the final color and look of your handbag. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a dye:

  1. Type of dye: There are two main types of dyes available for dyeing leather handbags: solvent-based dyes and water-based dyes. Solvent-based dyes offer vibrant and long-lasting colors but can be more difficult to work with and may require additional safety precautions, such as proper ventilation. Water-based dyes are generally easier to use and have a more eco-friendly profile but may not provide the same intensity of color as solvent-based dyes.
  2. Color options: Consider the range of colors available with the dye brand you choose. Some brands offer a wide range of colors, allowing you to find the perfect shade to match your preferences. Keep in mind that the original color of your handbag may affect the final result, and certain colors may require multiple coats to achieve the desired hue.
  3. Permanence: Look for dyes that are designed specifically for leather and offer permanent results. These dyes are formulated to penetrate the leather fibers and bond, resulting in a long-lasting color that resists fading or transferring onto clothing. Check the product description to ensure that the dye you choose is permanent and will withstand everyday use.
  4. Compatibility: Ensure that the dye you choose is compatible with the type of leather your handbag is made of. Different leather finishes, such as full-grain, top-grain, or suede, may require specific types of dyes for optimal results. It’s always a good idea to test the dye on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire handbag.
  5. Application method: Consider your preferred application method when choosing a dye. Some dyes come in spray or aerosol form, which can provide a more even and uniform coverage and are suitable for larger areas. Others may come in liquid or paste form, which can be applied with a brush or sponge, allowing for more precise application and detail work.

Take your time to research and compare different dye options. Read product reviews, check customer feedback, and consult leather dyeing experts if needed. Once you’ve selected the right dye for your leather handbag, you’re ready to move on to the exciting step of applying the dye and transforming its color.


Step 4: Applying the Dye

Now that you have chosen the perfect dye for your leather handbag, it’s time to apply the dye and begin the transformation process. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to apply the dye:

  1. Prepare your workspace: Find a well-ventilated area with good lighting to work in. Lay down a plastic sheet or old newspapers to protect your working surface from any spills or drips. It’s also a good idea to wear disposable gloves to protect your hands from staining.
  2. Stir the dye: If you’re using a water-based dye, give it a good stir to ensure that the color pigments are evenly distributed. For solvent-based dyes, shake the bottle well to mix the ingredients thoroughly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific preparation steps.
  3. Apply the first coat of dye: Using a clean brush or sponge, apply the dye to the leather surface in smooth, even strokes. Start from one corner and work your way across the handbag, ensuring complete coverage. Pay extra attention to seams, edges, and any areas that may require more dye. Apply a light, even coat to avoid excessive saturation that can result in uneven color or texture.
  4. Allow the dye to dry: After applying the first coat of dye, allow it to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Drying times may vary depending on the type of dye and the environmental conditions. Avoid touching the dyed surface during this time to prevent smudging or transferring the dye.
  5. Assess the color: Once the first coat is dry, assess the color and decide if you need to apply additional coats. If you’re satisfied with the intensity of the color, you can proceed to the next step. Otherwise, repeat the dyeing process, applying thin and even coats until you achieve the desired color. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next.
  6. Address any imperfections: If you notice any areas with streaks or uneven color, you can lightly sand them with a fine-grit sandpaper or gently buff them with a clean cloth. This will help smooth out the surface and blend the dye for a more consistent appearance. Be cautious not to damage the leather surface while sanding or buffing.
  7. Let the dye cure: After applying the final coat of dye and addressing any imperfections, allow the handbag to cure for at least 24 hours. This will give the dye ample time to fully dry and bond with the leather surface, resulting in a durable and long-lasting color.

Remember to read and follow the specific instructions provided by the dye manufacturer, as different dyes may have variations in application techniques and curing times. Once the dye is fully dried and cured, you can move on to the next step: buffing and sealing the dye to enhance its appearance and protect the leather handbag.


Step 5: Buffing and Sealing the Dye

After applying the dye to your leather handbag, it’s time to enhance its appearance and protect the new color by buffing and sealing the dye. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Buff the dyed surface: Take a clean, dry cloth and gently buff the dyed surface in circular motions. Buffing helps to remove any excess dye and evens out the color, giving your handbag a smooth and polished finish. Remember to use a soft cloth to avoid scratching or damaging the leather.
  2. Apply a leather sealer or finisher: To provide added protection and durability to the dyed leather, apply a leather sealer or finisher according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These products create a protective barrier on the surface, preventing color fading, staining, and damage from everyday use. Use a clean brush or sponge to apply the sealer evenly across the handbag. Allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
  3. Buff the sealed surface: Once the sealer or finisher is dry, gently buff the surface again to remove any excess product and enhance the shine. This step helps to create a smooth and polished finish, giving your handbag a professional look.
  4. Inspect the handbag: After buffing and sealing, take a close look at your handbag to ensure that the color is even and the finish is to your liking. If you notice any inconsistencies or areas that need further touch-ups, you can repeat the dyeing process or apply additional coats of dye before proceeding to the next step. Make sure to let the additional dye dry and cure before buffing and sealing again.

By buffing and sealing the dye, you not only enhance the appearance of your leather handbag but also prolong its life by protecting it from daily wear and tear. With the dyeing process complete, it’s time to focus on conditioning the leather to keep it soft, supple, and in excellent condition.


Step 6: Conditioning the Leather Handbag

Once you have completed the dyeing process and sealed the color, it’s essential to condition your leather handbag to keep it moisturized and in optimal condition. Conditioning helps to prevent drying, cracking, and color fading of the leather. Follow these steps to properly condition your leather handbag:

  1. Choose a leather conditioner: Look for a high-quality leather conditioner that is suitable for your specific type of leather. Different conditioners cater to different leather finishes and textures, so select one that matches your handbag. It’s best to use a conditioner made specifically for dyed leather to ensure compatibility with the dye and optimal conditioning results.
  2. Clean the handbag (if necessary): Before conditioning, make sure your handbag is clean and free from any dirt or stains. If needed, gently wipe the surface with a slightly damp cloth to remove any surface buildup. Allow the leather to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
  3. Apply the conditioner: Take a small amount of the leather conditioner onto a soft, clean cloth or sponge. Begin applying the conditioner to the leather surface in circular motions, ensuring complete coverage. Pay extra attention to areas that may be prone to drying, such as handles, corners, and seams.
  4. Gently massage the conditioner: Using gentle pressure, massage the conditioner into the leather, allowing it to penetrate the pores. This helps to nourish the leather and restore its natural oils. Continue massaging until the conditioner is fully absorbed and the leather feels supple and moisturized.
  5. Remove excess conditioner: After conditioning, gently wipe off any excess conditioner with a clean, dry cloth. Make sure to remove any excess product that hasn’t been absorbed by the leather. This step ensures that the handbag doesn’t appear greasy or sticky.
  6. Allow the conditioner to dry: Let the conditioner dry completely before using or storing your leather handbag. The drying time may vary depending on the conditioner and environmental conditions. Avoid exposing the handbag to direct sunlight or high heat, as this can damage the leather.

Regular conditioning is key to maintaining the suppleness and longevity of your leather handbag. It’s recommended to condition your handbag every few months or as needed, depending on its usage and exposure to harsh elements. With the conditioning process complete, your dyed leather handbag will be ready to make a fashionable statement while standing the test of time.


Step 7: Final Touches and Maintenance Tips

Now that you have successfully dyed and conditioned your leather handbag, it’s time to add the final touches and learn how to maintain its newly restored beauty. Follow these final steps and maintenance tips:

  1. Inspect and touch-up: Take a close look at your handbag to ensure that the color is even and any imperfections are addressed. If you notice any areas that require touch-ups, apply additional dye or conditioner as needed. Allow the touch-ups to dry and cure before proceeding.
  2. Protect the leather: To minimize the risk of color transfer or fading, protect your handbag from excessive exposure to sunlight, moisture, and heat. Store it in a cool, dry place when not in use and avoid placing it directly on rough surfaces that may scratch or damage the leather.
  3. Clean gently and regularly: Clean your handbag regularly with a soft, slightly damp cloth to remove any surface dirt or dust. Avoid using harsh chemicals or excessive water, as they can damage the dye or leather. If necessary, a commercial leather cleaner can be used following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Avoid excessive moisture: Leather is susceptible to damage from excessive moisture. Avoid using your handbag in heavy rain or snowfall, and if it does get wet, gently wipe off any moisture with a soft cloth and allow it to air dry naturally. Avoid using heat sources, such as hairdryers, as they can cause the leather to warp or crack.
  5. Rotate its use: To prevent excessive wear and tear on your handbag, consider rotating it with other bags in your collection. This will help distribute the usage and prolong the longevity of each bag while refreshing your overall accessories lineup.
  6. Store with care: When storing your handbag, stuff it with acid-free tissue paper or use a purse organizer to help it maintain its shape. Store it in a dust bag or a breathable fabric pouch to protect it from dust and light. Avoid using plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and cause the leather to deteriorate.
  7. Seek professional help if needed: If you encounter any major damages or issues with your handbag, such as deep stains, scratches, or tears, it’s best to seek professional help from a leather specialist or repair service. They have the expertise to address and resolve complex leather problems.

By following these final touches and maintenance tips, you can ensure that your dyed leather handbag remains in excellent condition and continues to make a stylish statement for years to come. Enjoy the beauty and versatility of your transformed handbag!



Congratulations on successfully dyeing your leather handbag and giving it a fresh new look! By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you have learned how to prepare the handbag, choose the right dye, apply the dye, and seal and protect the color. Additionally, you have gained insight into how to clean and condition your leather handbag to maintain its beauty and longevity.


Dyeing a leather handbag allows you to personalize your fashion accessories, update outdated colors, and breathe new life into beloved pieces. Whether you want to match your handbag to different outfits, stay on-trend with the latest colors, or simply refresh its appearance, the dyeing process offers an affordable and customizable solution.


With proper care and maintenance, your newly dyed handbag will continue to be a stylish and functional accessory. Remember to regularly clean and condition the leather, protect it from excessive moisture and sunlight, and store it properly when not in use. This will help preserve the color vibrancy and keep the leather supple and in great shape for years to come.


Always keep in mind that proper preparation, selecting the right dye, and following the instructions provided by the manufacturer are crucial for achieving the best dyeing results. If you encounter any challenges or have specific concerns about your handbag’s dyeing process, consult with a leather specialist or professional for guidance.


Now, it’s time to showcase your unique sense of style with your freshly dyed leather handbag. Enjoy the compliments and the confidence that comes with carrying a fashion accessory that truly reflects your personality and preferences!