February 9, 2022
Louis Vuitton was established in 1854 in Paris and is an iconic high-end luxury fashion house. Whether bags, shoes, watches, jewelry, sunglasses, and books, the company's products all come monogrammed with the LV logo. Committing to buying an authentic Louis Vuitton bag, both expensive and high quality, you are making an investment.
Whether it is the Speedy 25 or the iconic Neverfull or a scarce Takashi Murakami collection, you will want to make repairs and keep them clean in a way that respects the original design and manufacture.
Here we look at the essentials of repair, from a Louis Vuitton zipper replacement to replacing the handles. And we offer a guide to cleaning the untreated and unprotected Vachetta leather.
Pictured from left to right: Louis Vuitton Leather Embossed Monogram Bucket Bag in White, Louis Vuitton Damier Azur Neverfull Bag MM, Louis Vuitton Damier Ebene Neverfull Bag MM.
When to clean Louis Vuitton Vachetta leather
While the monogram and the Damier Azur canvases are a mark of the Louis Vuitton brand, it is complemented by the Vachetta leather handles, straps, trim, bottoms, and detailing.
This cowhide leather, Vachetta, is left in its natural state and its natural beauty. Without the tanning, dyeing or other preservatives that leather is often treated with, Vachetta leather is also left unprotected.
What does this mean for your Louis Vuitton leather? It is susceptible to watermarks and another staining. Your skin oils can transfer into the leather, so holding the handles alone can have some impact. Sunlight, dirt, and water, such as when it rains, can also significantly impact the condition of the leather.
Yet, while staining is not desirable, the bag is designed to age naturally and with this aging comes the patina for which the Louis Vuitton bag is renowned. This patina tells the individual story of a bag and makes it personal to you.
There comes the point when the dirt and water stains are uneven and unattractive. While the Vachetta leather is sensitive to damage, it is possible to clean it.
How to clean Louis Vuitton Vachetta leather
1. Assess the leather carefully
First, decide if the marking on the handle, trim and bottom are part of the history of the bag and are creating the wonderful patina it is designed to produce. It might be that your bag is moulding itself to your life and becoming your bespoke product. Do you really want to wash this away?
Also, assess if the leather on your Louis Vuitton bag is matte, which means the bag has recently been cleaned. If you clear it again, there is a risk of the Vachetta leather drying out and cracking.
Cracked leather would need to be replaced at a specialist leather repair store, which might be covered under your Louis Vuitton warranty but would otherwise be an expensive undertaking. You will likely need to invest in Louis Vuitton replacement handles or other hardware replacements.
If the leather is shiny, it is ready to be cleaned. Worried? Do a small patch test before you clean the bag more thoroughly.
2. Choose your cleaning method
There are two options when cleaning your Louis Vuitton leather. The first option is the baby wipe, and the second is a magic eraser.
Baby wipes are likely to be your standard go-to method. Using a magic eraser is more abrasive on the material and could strip entire layers of the leather away. Therefore, only use this if there is a very dark and uneven patina on the leather.
Even when you are sure this is the most appropriate method, dab at the leather. Do not rub or scrub, as you will take layers away with the dirt.
Do not focus on one area too long, cleaning evenly across the bag. Each time you have done a light dabbing of the leather, wait 15 seconds before starting a new round. If a spot starts to feel warm from your dabbing, stop working on the bag immediately.
If your problem is water marks and dirt stains, baby wipes are by far the best option. Purchase baby wipes that are free of oil, alcohol, and fragrance. When rubbing, apply gentle pressure and move in circular motions.
As with the magic eraser, do not focus on one area too long but give the stained areas more of your attention. You might find that your cleaning has made matters worse at first. Don't worry; set your bag aside to dry in the sun, and the wetness created will dry to leave a lighter and more even patina.
How to clean Louis Vuitton canvas
Whether Damier Azur, Damier Ebene, Damier Graphite, Multicolour or Monogram Eclipse, the main canvas of the Louis Vuitton bag is not leather. Instead, the leather-like appearance of this canvas is a PVC coating. Consequently, it makes no sense to use abrasive chemicals to clean or treat this part of your bag.
Cleaning the canvas can be as simple as using baby wipes or slightly soapy water. Using a toothbrush, work in circular motions over the surface to remove dirt and stains.
To clean inside the bag, use unscented baby wipes. If you have ink stains in your bag, you can erase them on a cotton swab with some hairspray. You can always apply a standard stain remover if this doesn't work.
Louis Vuitton repairs
There are many vintage bags on the market that have seen it through those early days of use and misuse to become highly desirable items. The quality of the manufacturer and the brand's desirability make your bag a potential investment.
If you can repair and protect your bag, you could find that someone would buy it from you for a similar price you paid – or more – if truly vintage.
Therefore, it is a good idea to learn how to repair and refurbish a Louis Vuitton bag. There are two common issues you will need to address beyond removing stains. The first is learning to mend the zipper and the second is removing oxidation from the metal trimmings.
Mending the zipper
Since 1991, Louis Vuitton bags have used the heritage gold brass zipper pull that is monogrammed with the LV logo. If this is lost, you may want to source a new one to keep the value in the bag moving forward.
You might also want to source some of the other Louis Vuitton hardware that was attached to the zipper, as it is these small details that mean the most if you go on to sell it to someone else.
If you are near a specialist outlet that offers repairs, it is usually inexpensive to get the zipper repaired. They will likely make the repair while you wait if you take it in, and it takes about 15 minutes.
However, it is possible to repair the zipper yourself, as there is no lining in the bag. First, remove the broken zipper carefully and fit the new one using some contact cement or super glue. The process is relatively simple to describe but much harder to achieve without care and attention.
It might be a good idea to enlist a pair of helping hands that can hold things in place for you as you glue other sections. Then, you might want to put in some stitches, using a machine, to hold it in place.
Brightening dull brass hardware and removing oxidation
While a lot of focus is placed on the leather and canvas of the Louis Vuitton purse, the brass fixings really make the bag sing. With age, there might be some oxidation around the fittings, and the main brass plate might also become dull.
Start the process of rejuvenating the brass by wiping as much of the oxidation away with a dry paper towel. There is no replacement for hard work here, and persistence will be rewarded.
Then, get some q-tips and, using a small amount of metal polish, rub the brass fittings in circular motions. It is hugely important that you do not get any polish on the canvas or leather. Therefore, using the q-tips helps you be more precise in your application and rubbing.
You will then be rewarded for some hard work. Using that paper towel, buff the metal fixings until the metal shines and no black residue remains. Remember to stay clear of the leather and canvas.
Love and care with Louis Vuitton purse repair
Your Louis Vuitton Speedy or Neverfull is likely your pride and joy, and it can be like carrying confidence on your shoulder when you take it with you. Therefore, taking care of your bag is an act of love.
From lightening your Vachetta leather with some careful dabbing with a baby wipe to some soapy water on the canvas, you can reinvigorate your prized possession.
While age and rarity matter, your Louis Vuitton bag could be worth thousands to the resell market. So, if you can't clean and repair your purse for love, you might want to do it for the cash. When buying into such a renowned brand, you have an opportunity to turn it into an investment.
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