Care and Maintenance    How To

‘Tis the Season for Velvet Purses, Here’s How to Keep Them Clean

Restore softness and sheen in six easy steps.

The holiday season is officially here, and I know I’m not the only one who couldn’t be more excited to break out their autumn/winter wardrobe. Goodbye linen, hello cozy sweaters, leather jackets, and all the snuggly accessories to match.

We could go classic by adding touches of suede, or maybe it’ll be more fun to go all in on that trendy shearling stuff. Or let’s try them all; there’s no shortage of cold-weather fabrics to experiment with.

On that note, I recently saw some speculation about whether another winter favorite, velvet, had finally gone from being a trend to becoming a staple. I’d say that it has ﹘ but only because velvet has never not been in style.

Velvet’s been used in fashion and upholstery for literal centuries. It’s just at some point, it was no longer reserved for nobility and members of a wealthy merchant class. Sure, it’s technically a man-made fabric, but its distinctly luxurious appearance is one designers of all kinds continue to turn to. Twelve centuries of staying power has got to count for something, right?

Also, brands like Dior seem to think it’s not going anywhere and who are we to argue with those who gave us the velvet Book Tote. I say let’s just roll with it and figure out how to best clean and maintain the fabric, so our favorite purses and accessories always look their best.

Though to do that, there’s something we first must understand:

Velvet vs Velveteen vs Velour

There’s a difference between real velvet (silk/rayon blend,) velveteen (cotton blend,) and velour (polyester blend.)

These all have varying levels of durability, so it’s best to do some research before making a purchase, so you know what you’re getting yourself into regarding fabric maintenance.

Unsurprisingly, many of our favorite velvet designer bags, while lovely, are still mass-produced- meaning they’re likely going to be made of velveteen rather than authentic velvet.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though; Velveteen is easier to clean. Bags made of real velvet are susceptible to moisture damage that can cause the fabric to get all matted and gross, so real velvet should always be dry-cleaned.

Bags made of cotton-based velveteen, however, can be treated at home. That means you’re free to enjoy all the holiday festivities without fear of spilling cranberry chutney on your favorite bag.

Assuming you’ve got a few common household products on hand, cleaning a velveteen bag is actually a breeze.

You’ve Made a Mess! Here’s What to Do…

  • Step 1: If there’s a chunk of something in the spill, gently remove it first. Use a soft cloth or paper towel to soak up the moisture from the affected area. For the love of the fashion gods, please don’t rub the stain in.
  • Step 2: Keep absorbing. Use the clean edge of the cloth (or a new paper towel) until you get as much moisture out of the fabric as possible.
  • Step 3: Put two or three drops of degreasing dish soap in a cup of warm water. Use another clean edge of the cloth to lightly blot the area with the warm soapy mixture. Gently dampen the fabric without oversaturating it.
  • Step 4: Either air dry or use a blow dryer on the lowest setting.
  • Step 5: After it’s 100% dry, use a soft brush (a toothbrush or boar bristle hair brush works great) to gently brush out any “crunchiness.” Make sure to take the time to brush in different directions to avoid creating any obvious patches. If it’s a stubborn stain, repeat steps 3,4 & 5 again.
  • *Step 6: If you’re comfortable doing so, you can finish off by spraying the bag with a layer of a protective velvet-safe fabric coating like Scotchgard. Some people swear by this, while others shy away from doing so; The choice is yours.

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