Monday, August 6, 2012

How I Cleaned my Louis Vuitton Speedy

Years ago, I was obsessed with Louis Vuitton.  I stalked eBay sales.  I read posts in the LV community on LiveJournal.  I read blogs, the MyPoupette site, and looked at eLuxury (now defunct) constantly.  I couldn't afford it, but that didn't stop me from salivating over its classic beauty.

So, on a random fall afternoon, when I saw a Speedy 25 from a MyPoupette seller on eBay with a low starting bid, I laughed to myself and placed the minimum bid and said aloud, "Here you go, a Louis Vuitton for $300.  I'm sure to win it."  Then I rolled my eyes and went about my business, sure that someone would snag it out from under me.

And then no one outbid me.

The bag was beautiful... authentic, in relatively good shape, made in France... and filthy.  I knew I was going to have to clean it, but until it arrived, I had no idea how bad the situation was.  The bag came from a smoker, and it wasn't well cared for.  The patina (the natural browning of the leather) was beautiful, but it was covered in black grime, and the bag reeked of smoke.  In order to carry this beautiful bag, I had some cleaning to do!

I read online that you can clean the leather of a Louis Vuitton bag using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Apparently, this works best if you do not wet the sponge, simply use gentle circular motions, but I actually wet mine a little.  It worked well, but the sponge did leave remnants behind on the leather handles.  I just removed these with a soft cloth.

For the smell, I had a slightly bigger challenge.  I used dryer sheets first, putting several inside the bag and then putting the bag into a big plastic bag and tying it up.  This didn't really help a lot, so I went for something for drastic.  I unfolded a napkin and put a handful of coffee beans in the middle.  Then I tied the napkin up, essentially creating a sachet.  (You may recall seeing coffee beans at perfume counters so you can smell and "reset" your nose.)  I put this in the bag and then once again sealed it up in a plastic bag.  I did carry the bag a couple of times, and just placed it back into its bag with the coffee beans when I was done.  After a month of "sleeping" with coffee beans, the musty smoky odor was gone.

I'm not an expert on authenticating bags online, but I do have some advice if you are looking to purchase a used designer bag.  Study the fonts of the designer, and make sure the picture posted in the sale matches.  Look for even stitching.  Make sure the seller is reputable (like MyPoupette sellers).  And remember - if it's too good to be true, it definitely is!