We all buy secondhand Louis Vuitton handbags for different reasons. It might be much better quality compared to newer handbags, desire to save on your dream bag or a need to support sustainable fashion.
The evolution of secondhand handbag market leads to one handbag being reused multiple times. It’s only logical that used purses' handles get dark honey patina, thus, vintage Louis Vuitton handbags look very used over time.
Here's a question from LV collectors we get a lot: how can you clean or brighten Louis Vuitton vachetta handles?
Several years ago I owned a handbag spa company, so I know a bit about handbag restoration. Let me share the options you have if a handbag’s handles are too dark, and you want to give them a new look by lightening them up.
This might be interesting for you:
- How to Clean The Inside Lining of Your Louis Vuitton Bag At Home
- [GUIDE] How Do You Safely Clean a Louis Vuitton Bag at Home?
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Why Do Louis Vuitton Handles Change Color?
Handles of popular handbags, such as Speedy or Keepall, are made of vachetta, which is cowhide leather. On new handbags, it might have a very light beige shade, or even pink one. After a while, the leather changes color, becoming darker and gets patina.
This happens as Louis Vuitton uses untreated leather. It doesn't have any coating so the pores stay open and unfortunately susceptible to dirt and grease from our hands. Once the handles get darker, it's not possible to revert to the original shade. However, there are a few things you might try to make your purse look nicer.
Will Louis Vuitton Clean My Bag?
However, let's start from the very reason why do some kind of cleaning at home. Every purse collector has had this popped in their head at least once:
Can I take my Louis Vuitton bag to be cleaned?
A short answer is no. Louis Vuitton doesn't offer any type of handbag cleaning or spa services. It's quite understandable as they're main business is selling designer handbags, not taking responsibility for cleaning them.
Louis Vuitton does provide a few services for their handbags. What they can do for you is to replace different parts of your handbag, which most often is vachetta parts. An average replacement cost would be around 1/2 of a new bag's price so it definitely makes sense to learn how to upgrade your vintage bag with what you have at home!
4 Safe Ways to Make Louis Vuitton Handles Look Better Than Ever
1. Wrap a twilly or a bandeau around the handles
A twilly or bandeau is a 2 layer ribbon (usually a silk ribbon) that you can wrap around the handles. Before you say anything, just look at these beautiful examples:
Personally, I love the way a bandeau looks on the handles. It’s exquisite and feminine. If you purchase a pair, you can then use it on all of your handbags. Yes, you won’t clean the Louis Vuitton handles, but you won’t have to!
You can use the same approach if you have a new Speedy or Keepall handbag to protect beautiful beige handles from build-up of dirt and grease. They will get darker anyway, so why not put a bandeau to keep them clean and nice as long as possible?
The most expensive bandeaus are from Hermes. A pair will cost you about $500-$1000 depending on the collection and color combinations. An LV bandeau is generally about $300 at the store and $150 preloved.
If you're not up to dropping a few hundred on a silk ribbon, you can definitely find cheaper options on Amazon. Generally, a silk ribbon costs from $6 to $20. Here are some interesting ones, hand-picked by our team:
DEOIRC Striped Handbag Handle Wrap
Made of silk, this nice ribbon will match the clorblock of almost any bag. There are many colors available. Check it out on Amazon.
Mengmeng Angel Women's Silk Fashion Letter Printed
Here's a silk ribbon that actually looks like a ribbon from a catwalk! While the font is very similar to Louis Vuitton's font, the design has been inspired by Chanel.
It's less than $10 and we feel you need to check it out on Amazon.
DEOIRC Lovely Girl Printing Bag Handbag Handle Ribbon
Another chic silk ribbon with multiple color options. This version in gray is a good match for colorful or black/white handbags.
Take a look at other color options here.
DEOIRC Fashion Literary Floral Bag Handbag Ribbon
Love floral motifs? This bandeau resembles the Gucci Flora print. It will match any bright color. The only downside this bandeau has is being white. Presumably, you'll have to take good care of it.
Didn't like these suggestions? Click here to see even more options.
2. Replace Louis Vuitton handbag's vachetta
If the canvas looks really nice but you can’t stand dark patina on the Louis Vuitton handles, you can turn a preloved Louis Vuitton handbag into a new one by replacing its vachetta at the store. Here is a bag produced in 2007 with the vachetta replaced.
Be aware that, generally, replacing all the vachetta parts on a handbag will cost you about 50% of a new handbag’s price. For instance, you need to replace Speedy vachetta. If a new handbag retails for about $1,000, replacing all the vachetta parts will be a bit below $500. So it’s not cheap. Basically, if you find a vintage Speedy for $500 with inside lining and canvas in great condition, you’ll have a vintage Louis Vuitton bag with replaced vachetta for more or less the price of a new one.
However, in some cases it does make sense. Collectors say vintage canvas quality is much better. The canvas keeps its shape and isn’t prone to cracks. So I’d say it’s worth the hassle. Here is another picture of before and after.
This is the only way to make your bag look like new. No other restoration method will give you the same result.
3. Recolor the handles / color restoration
Look at a Louis Vuitton Multicolor Speedy we had in stock some time ago. The vachetta is nice and even. Doesn't it look good?
You can ask the handbag spa to recolor the handles and make them lighter.
Before you recolor the handles, be aware that if you intend to sell the handbag at some point, you’ll probably have to sell it cheaper. A lot of resellers and handbag collectors avoid items that have passed any kind of restoration, especially recoloring. Why? Because sometimes the new layer of color starts to chip and crack.
However, it's important to keep in mind that each handbag restoration company uses its own methods and chemicals so you can't predict the result. Look what happened to this Keepall Graffiti.
At the handbag spa, they dyed the vachetta with the yellow stitching, making it look dirty.
If you intend to recolor the handles, ask the leather surgeon if they can leave out the stitching (with our Speedy Multicolor they tried, but anyway there’s color on the original stitching). This is the golden LV restoration standard.
Another thing you need to take into the account is that the handles won’t feel the same anymore. The original Speedy handles are smooth as silk. They’re just nice to touch. Whenever you put a new layer of color on the handles, the leather won’t feel smooth anymore, it’ll feel dry and scored.
Wait, but the article is called '4 Ways to Clean / Lighten Louis Vuitton Handles With What You Have At Home'!
4. Clean the handles / Have them cleaned
This is by far the most unpredictable way of cleaning you Louis Vuitton handbag handles. If you love your purse, make sure to first try each chemical on an area that is not visible.
You can clean the handles using the following products:
1) Saddle soap
Saddle soap will remove dirt and grease from the handles. The dark parts (middle of the handle) will become a bit lighter, the rest will mostly stay as is or will even acquire a different shade. Note that the leather will get dry after you remove the grease so be prepared to use a good leather conditioner.
Apply a bit of this lotion (that’s important!) to a cotton pad and clean the handles without leaving watermarks on the handles. The idea is to apply the lotion to the superficial dirt and remove it. Never apply the lotion to the handles directly, you’ll create watermarks that won’t go away.
This way of cleaning Louis Vuitton handles won’t help you to magically turn them into new handles, however, the leather will look cleaner and more even.
3) A smooth leather balm/lotion
Again, the result will be pretty much as with the bamboo lotion. It’s mostly about sanitizing your handbag and removing bacteria and dirt, not making your handbag look new.
Here’s what you need to know: whatever you use on the handles, you’ll remove this nice surface smoothness. As the leather will be unprotected, you’ll need to moisturize the leather after the cleaning. One of the products you can use for that is Mink Oil. You can choose a product on Amazon.
Now you know a few tricks to clean / lighten Louis Vuitton vachetta handles (or at least make them look nicer). Hopefully this article was useful. Which other ways to clean or lighten Louis Vuitton handles can you recommend?
Are You Purchasing a Vintage Louis Vuitton Handbag?
There is also one thing you need to keep in mind when buying a pre-loved bag. Always make sure it is authentic, and we, at Bagaholic, can help you with that for only $10!
If you need to authenticate a Louis Vuitton/Dior/Gucci item, please order one of the three types of authentication:
- good when you need a certificate for any reason,
Certificate of Authenticity $25
- good when you need a certificate for any reason, either to sell the bag with the peace of mind or to return a fake bag to the seller if you purchased a fake
- includes a permanent certificate on lvbagaholic.com
Certificate of Authenticity with a thorough explanation $50
- good when you need a certificate and you need to know why the bag is authentic/not authentic for any reason, either to sell the bag with the peace of mind or return a fake bag to the seller if you purchased a fake.
- includes a permanent certificate on lvbagaholic.com
- includes an explanation of why the item is fake (detailed pictures and comparisons with an authentic bag, more than 10 pics included)
PLEASE CHOOSE ONE OF THE OPTIONS BELOW