As I mentioned in The Tale of My (Almost) Vintage Louis Vuitton Bag: Part 1, I was determined to give my newly-acquired, 19-year-old bag the TLC it needed to serve me today and for years to come. So I started Googling, and of course, the Purse Forum held the solutions to my problems. Here’s what I did to restore and preserve my Louis Vuitton Speedy…
1. Remove THAT SMELL!
First, I had to eliminate the old basement smell. I tried dryer sheets in the bag to no avail.
Other LV owners on Purse Forum who dealt with the same issue recommended placing an odor-absorbing block and/or an open box of baking soda in the bag, zipping it up, and placing it in a plastic garbage bag. I left my Speedy cocooned in the bag overnight, but that didn’t work either. Although the interior smell was more faint, the outside still reeked of dankness and mold. I sensed the plastic bag was actually trapping the smell (duh), rather than releasing it. Back to the drawing board.
Another approach I gathered from Purse Forum was to let the bag “air out” outside to remove the smell. Over the course of a bitterly cold, dry winter day, I let the bag air out, outside on my covered patio, but out of direct sunlight. I got lucky in the first few days of having my new-to-me Speedy that it was perfect winter weather, with no dampness or humidity. I left the odor-absorbers in the bag and initially left the bag zipped. After a few sniffs later in the day, I unzipped it and left it out some more. My nose told me I was making progress!
I’m beyond elated to report that after many hours in bone-chilling cold over several days, THAT SMELL has been reduced by at least 90%. It is no longer detectable from the outside of the bag; I can only smell it when I literally stick my nose in the opening. I’m pretty sure as time passes, the rest of it will dissipate. It’s becoming more faint as my bag adjusts to her new, more pleasant-smelling surroundings. Uh, yay!
2. Polish the tarnished brass.
When I first saw the blackened lock and keys that came with my bag, my heart sank a little. They looked terrible, and they made my Speedy look like a cheap fake! I’m one of those women who likes to rock the lock on a bag, or a tassel, or even a charm—so leaving it off was not an option.
At first I tried cleaning the lock with jewelry cleaner, because it was all I had on hand. No dice. I picked up proper brass cleaner (I also had a couple rings that needed a shine) and got to work. A little brass polish on a paper towel, and in five minutes they looked brand new. Gold and gleaming and gorgeous!
After polishing the lock, I moved on to the rivets. With a Q-tip, I very carefully cleaned each one, making sure not to get any brass cleaner on the vachetta. It’s a small detail, but it really helped make my bag look younger than 19.
3. Condition the vachetta leather.
Oh the vachetta. I told you about the drama that untreated leather causes thousands of LV-lovers worldwide in my previous post. Luckily for me, the vachetta on my Speedy 35 was in pretty good shape. Well, I mean, the bag is nearly vintage, so there is some wear. But mostly, the leather bits were just dried out and needed conditioning. It has a nice light honey patina, no grime on the handles. They definitely have some years left in them, but should they begin to blacken (I draw the line there), I will have them replaced. Replacing the handles is a fraction of the cost of a new Speedy.
After more Purse Forum surfing, I found vachetta conditioner, ordered some, and using a soft towel, applied it to all the leather trim. It helps remove any surface dirt (there really wasn’t any visible) and it soothed minor cracks in the handles, as well as moisturized the leather to prevent future cracking.
4. Stop bag sag!
Some people may think this is overkill, but there is a very good reason to not allow any bag you own to sag at the bottom, aside from the fact that it kills the look of the bag. With some bags, if you don’t find a way to make the bottom sturdier so weight is distributed evenly, it can cause vertical creasing or wrinkling, especially in LV Epi leather bags (er, next on my wish list!).
Unfortunately, when it comes to many LV bags, sagging is just the nature of the beast. While some of the brand’s bags are structured, with a solid base (and even feet), two of the most popular designs—the Speedy and Neverfull—are not. Thankfully the need for base structure and interior organization became apparent to several Etsy sellers, who now offer handmade products cut to fit LV bags that meet each of these needs.
I picked up a clear base shaper for my Speedy 35 from Princess Cut Bags. I love this product! Here’s a video to show you just how effective it is…
Products used to revitalize my Louis Vuitton bag:
- Arm & Hammer Fridge & Freezer Baking Soda
- Citrus Magic Solid Air Freshener, Linen Scent
- Wright’s Brass Polish
- Lovin My Bags Vachetta Conditioner
- Speedy 35 Base Shaper For Louis Vuitton
Have you ever refurbished or cleaned up a pre-loved bag? Any tips you care to share?