Cleaning and patching vinyl and leather; fixing straps and clasps. Remove spots from vinyl or patent leather with baking soda on a damp cloth. Then apply petroleum jelly thinly to the entire bag, and buff thoroughly.
Clean heavy leather with saddle soap. For fine leather, use a commercial leather cleaner-conditioner from a shoe or hardware store. Clean dark marks from light leather with a clean pencil eraser. Use an artist’s gum eraser to clean spots from suede; renew the nap with fine sandpaper.
If a leather bag is scratched or worn in spots, touch up the damaged areas only with soft, cream-type shoe polish, and buff thoroughly. But never use shoe polish for general cleaning of a bag, or the polish may rub off onto your skin or clothing. Dealing with tears and holes To repair tears in a vinyl bag, use a vinyl repair kit from a crafts shop or a piece of matching vinyl and plastic cement. Be sure that the patch and bag are free of grease before applying glue.
If a leather bag is torn, patch it with leather from a crafts store or with pieces cut from an old glove. Turn the patch to the rough side and scrape its edges thin with a single-edge razor blade to keep them from forming a ridge. Then spread contact cement on the wrong side of the patch and over the damaged area of the bag. When the cement has dried slightly, apply the patch and rub it with a soft cloth.
Apply a suede patch from the wrong side, being careful to make the torn edges meet exactly. Then brush up the suede to hide the tear.
Since no patch will be completely invisible, consider using banding or a monogram to hide holes. Or shape the patches to look like decorations. You can also add a pocket of matching material to the outside of a bag to mask a hole or tear. Straps and clasps To fix a broken leather strap, trim and overlap the ends and sew them. Or replace the old strap with a new one from a crafts store or with a costume chain.
If a clasp on a handbag does not close, check the alignment of the bag’s frame and bend it slightly, if necessary. If the bag has a twistedprong clasp that won’t hold and the frame of the bag is all right, protect the prongs with tape and bend them toward each other with pliers.