How To Care for Your Clear Bag

In this post, I'm referring mainly to bags made with PVC, either clear or tinted. However, many faux-leather purses and shoes are often made of the same stuff and can benefit from similar care. The heavy, flexible plastic used in handbags and clear accessories is usually PVC, while those rigid, structured, often box-shaped plastic purses are made from a kind of shatter-proof acrylic glass, commonly referred to by their trademarked names, Lucite or Plexiglass. Vintage and thrift store fans might recognize this material on the handles of bags from past decades.

clear bags how to care tips marc jacobs valentino roxy pvc clear plastic


From top left: 3.1 Phillip Lim handbag / Valentino studded handbag / Marc by Marc Jacobs clearly top-handle / kids' clear backpack / Sperry Top-Sider tote / Roxy beach handbag / BCBG clear pink clutch

How do you choose?

Warning: gals who tend to "throw" their purses around might want to be wary of investing in a mainly PVC purse, because you must be pretty careful with them! Consider how and where the purse will rub against you when you wear it: will your studded belt and dark wash jeans become a sudden danger? Does your favorite jacket have toggles or clasps that will brush constantly against your bag? A big drawback of PVC as a handbag material is that there's not much you can actually do to buff out scratches or pen marks once they are there.

   If you are contemplating a see-through tote or expect to be carrying some weight in your clear purse, make sure to steer clear of any thin, flimsy options and closely examine the straps. The material at the seams of plastic purses is somewhat compromised by the actual stitching itself, as it has created tiny holes in the PVC. Thin, cheap plastic could rip right out at the seams like a sheet of binder paper.

How do you clean it?

Use soapy water and a clean sponge to wash away dust and debris. Make sure to change the cloth often, to keep from dragging debris over new areas and making new scratches. You can also use a clean t-shirt to wash and dry; jersey makes a great soft, lint-free cleaning cloth. Keep water/soap away from any genuine leather or other permeable parts of your bag. Never use nail-polish remover, paint remover, bleach or any other solvent on a plastic purse. Harsh chemicals like these could eat into the plastic or make it appear cloudy.


More tips & tricks

No more loose items! This purse organization rule is one I adopted when I got my first clear bag. I am a messy person who tends to have a lipstick/candy/perfume/cookie spill in every bag I own. But contemplating a giant melted blob of lip gloss inside my pricey precious made me realize, okay, it's time to bust out all those zippered pouches I've acquired over the years. And using them really does help keep any bag clean and tidy.

While researching this article, I read a few forum suggestions that involved using petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on PVC, as a sort of polish or treatment. Rub onto clean PVC, wipe off, buff with a fresh cloth. Hard water spots marring your life? Try rubbing them with half a fresh lemon!

Check out this thoughtful post about clear purses (actually, that Valentino Rockstud above!!) on Wendy's Lookbook. I love her descriptions of what it means to her.


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