How To Clean Louis Vuitton Vachetta Leather

Sometimes marks, stains and spills happen. Most clothes or accessories can be popped in the wash or easily wiped clean — but what happens if rain hits your Louis Vuitton Alma and you’re left with a watermark eyesore? Or somehow the magazine you’re carrying imprints colour onto the handle of your Keepall?

Read on to discover methods and tips on how to clean Louis Vuitton Vachetta Leather. But, before we get cleaning it’s important to understand what makes Vachetta leather unique and why it should be treated with care…

What is Vachetta leather?

Vachetta leather is a luxury material used for the creation of bags, shoes, belts and luggage. It’s untreated leather that is created by colouring cowhide leather with various vegetable tannins from flowers or tree bark. Colours depend on the vegetable tannins used, but they range from warm light beige to red-brown or even black. Find out more information on how Vachetta leather is made from this leather wholesaler based in Italy, where Vachetta leather has a long heritage.

Woman holding the Vachetta leather handles on a Louis Vuitton Keepall | Photo by Blake Bronstad on Wikimedia Commons

The most popular use is within the handbag industry where it can be used to create entire bags or simply used as trims, handles, straps and other attachments. Both Louis Vuitton and Coach use Vachetta leather, with Louis Vuitton favouring a light beige.

Which Louis Vuitton bags use Vachetta leather?

This luxe leather can be found on many popular bags from Louis Vuitton including the Speedy, Neverfull, Keepall and the Alma. It is mainly used on handbag handles, trims and straps.

Remember, a little Patina is normal

Vachetta leather will naturally develop a patina with age. It’s a soft darkening of the leather in areas where it is frequently handled, touched or worn. This unique characteristic will differ from bag to bag. Examining the patina on Vachetta leather is often used in the authentication of Louis Vuitton bags as cheap/plastic leather will not develop this desired effect.

Louis Vuitton Speedy with Vachetta leather that has a deep amber patina

How to clean Louis Vuitton Vachetta leather

If you are cleaning a recently purchased secondhand Louis Vuitton bag with Vachetta leather, make sure it hasn’t been recently cleaned. Vachetta leather needs time to recover after cleaning as it needs to redevelop a smooth, hydrated sheen. Recently cleaned leather may have a matte appearance, and care should be taken before you decide to clean it.

Water splashes

If the bag comes into contact with water, immediately blot the area with a clean, smooth (non-fluffy) cloth. Press firmly for a few seconds to absorb as much water as possible. Remember to allow the bag to dry naturally on its own without hairdryers, sunlight etc. This should stop watermarks from developing.

Light stains: Watermarks, general build up of dirt.

Using an alcohol, oil and fragrance-free baby wipe (or non-abrasive, soft sponge soaked in cool water that has been tightly squeezed) gently wipe every panel, handle or leather piece. Make sure you don’t press too firmly or spend too much time on one area as this can damage the leather. You may need to use several fresh wipes if they get particularly fluffy or dirty, and rinse and squeeze the sponge again in cool water if you’re using this method instead.

The leather will darken slightly as it absorbs the moisture of the wipe or sponge, but as it dries it will lighten. Wipe the bag with a microfibre cloth to remove any excess moisture at the surface. Then leave the bag to dry naturally in a room away from any additional heat source like a radiator, heater, hairdryer or even the sun. Drying the leather too quickly can cause damage.

Extensive stains: Ink marks, food stains, Excessively dark patina on handles etc.

For minor ink stains like newspaper print transfers or pen marks, you may be able to use a Magic Eraser or even a clean, white artists eraser. Before beginning, test a small discreet area on the bottom or inside of the bag for both methods.

Magic Eraser

Wet the eraser and tightly squeeze to remove excess water before gently wiping the entire leather panel where any staining is present. This should be done with extremely light pressure, so as not to damage the Vachetta. Make sure not to heat up the leather by focusing too much attention on one spot as this can cause permanent damage.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Ink/Artist’s Eraser

Gently move the eraser across areas of staining. This method is essentially removing the top layer of leather, so it should be done with great care. Again, make sure the leather doesn’t heat up and do not focus on one area longer than a few seconds.

Any large ink spills or spillages from oil-based food or products should be cleaned professionally as the oil penetrates the leather and becomes very difficult to remove.

If the bag has been frequently handled by hands coated in lotion, the handles may be noticeably darker than the rest of the leather so you may be able to lighten and even out the patina by using these eraser methods. However, it’s important to note this is a much more intensive cleaning method and should be carried out very carefully. If you have any concerns, have the bag cleaned professionally, to avoid any costly mistakes.

Please note…

Please remember, these methods are guidelines only. Before cleaning the bag yourself, you may consider having the bag cleaned professionally. And if you are attempting to lighten the patina, remember that this is a feature frequently sought after on the secondhand market, and is a prominent characteristic of a Louis Vuitton bag.

Patina on a vintage Louis Vuitton Ellipse bag from Timeless Vintage

Daily care: How to protect Vachetta Leather

Accidents happen and sometimes no matter how careful we are spillages and stains occur. The best way to keep your Louis Vuitton bag, and ultimately the Vachetta leather, safe is to follow a few simple steps.

  • Avoid any contact with water including rain, spills, sea spray or placing the bag on a wet surface.
  • You may wish to use a hydrating and protective spray that keeps the Vachetta leather supple and protected from minor marks.
  • Try not to handle the bag after a recent application of hand cream or lotions. These oil based products will seep into the leather and speed up the patina process.

For more information on caring for and storing your bag, find tips in a post that has a complete guide on how to store your designer handbag.

Featured Image by O.Horbacz on Wikimedia Commons


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