how to restore faded leather bag

Revised 11/9/20

Leather develops a fine character and patina over time, but if it’s been left in the sun or endured uneven wear, you could be seeing some undesirable or uneven fading. Thankfully, you can learn how to restore color to leather, although it will take some diligence on the front end to find a high-quality polish in the right color. Here, we’ve outlined how to restore a faded leather bag in 4 steps. Take your time and do it right.


– Gloves

– Clean, white cotton rags

– Leather cleaner

– Leather conditioner

– High-quality leather polish


Before getting to how to restore color to leather, you have to know how to prep your bag for the polish. Begin by gently cleaning the bag’s entire surface with a quality leather cleaner. Next, move on to your leather conditioner. Massage a small amount of leather conditioner to the bag in an even layer. Buff away any excess. 


Start with high-quality leather polish. Match the polish to the desired color. Some companies offer to color match for you, or you may need to mix different colors to achieve your desired shade. Take the time to get this step right, and always test the polish in an inconspicuous area to preview the result before polishing a larger section.


Apply the polish to the faded leather using a cotton rag. Always wear gloves and use a clean, white cotton cloth when polishing your leather bag. This will be a multiple-step process, so if you do not achieve the desired coverage on the first application, don’t be concerned. One application may be enough, but it could take three or four. Use the same care as you did when applying your leather conditioner. After you touch up the areas of faded leather, allow the polish to soak in for about 20 minutes. 


Use a clean rag to rub off excess polish and buff the leather bag, just as you do after you apply leather conditioner. Be sure to buff the leather with a clean rag after each application to avoid having polish transfer to other surfaces. Evaluate the color, and repeat step 3 if necessary. Moving forward, be sure to apply leather conditioner to your bag at regular intervals (every 2-6 months, depending on how hard a life it leads) to extend its years and keep it looking its best.

It takes time and patience when learninghow to restore a leather bag like a messenger or briefcase. But moving forward, be sure to apply a leather conditioner to your bag at regular intervals depending on how hard a life it leads, and to extend its shelf life. 

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