In case you’ve been under a rock the past five years, Vera Bradley is seemingly an essential piece of wardrobe in a lot of women’s closets. Honestly, when I first saw the prints I hated them, but after re-modeling a lot of their patterns and bringing in fresh ones every season, they have me hooked.

Needless to say, I use my ID/Wallet/Phone holder a lot. I used it at school every day, so it got pretty dingy. Not to mention, it’s black & white, so the white on the inside was a stark contrast to the outside.

About two weeks ago, I decided this had infuriated me enough to sit down and try to find some reasonable ways to clean it…without having to buy a specific cleaner. I already have a Coach cleaner, do I really need another?

A lot of sites on the web told me to not put in the wash..or to put it in the wash. Many said the use of a washing machine would bend the cardboard inside to the point where it won’t stay straight anymore. Now, before you all rush off buying the shampoo, you need to know that you don’t need a washing machine to do this. In fact…you just need water, a cloth, and a small amount of detergent.

I decided to use a Woolite travel packet, because I have a small rubbermaid full of them (seriously, I love these things, they work great). You can find them virtually anywhere and are perfect for college students, since it’s a lot less expensive than buying a full container of Woolite. One packet is good for a full load of hand-washed laundry, which is great for sweaters when you live in New England, like me.

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A little sneak preview of what my much-loved Vera Bradley wallet looks like, comparable to what the inside looks like:

Eewwww so dirty!! Image

Honestly? After I took that picture, I immediately started filling up my bathroom sink with warm water & Woolite. I then just proceeded to plunge the wallet into the sink, to hell with cardboard consequences!

So I took a dark colored washcloth (that I use for all my little washing projects that can’t just be tossed in the washer; ie dog toys). Dipping the cloth in the sudsy water, I scrubbed the entire wallet down, dunked it again, then scrubbed a second time.

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(Excuse the nails, work was brutal on them)

After I rinsed out the wallet, I squeezed it a little, taking care to not actually bend the wallet in case the cardboard was at it’s breaking point. I then laid out a dry towel on my armoire and left the wallet open face down to dry overnight.

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At first, I was a little worried because it didn’t look like it had thoroughly cleaned anything on the wallet. But the next afternoon, I was surprised to see how clean it was! I mean, you can clearly see the dirt when you rinse off your wallet after scrubbing it, but look at the difference!!

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I’m thoroughly impressed with how clean it came out. I did use a lot of Woolite, but last night I washed a second wallet, 2 lanyards, and 2 of my mother’s id cases and they came out just as well. I don’t know how well it would work with bargain brand detergent, because I always find Woolite gets things cleaner than normal, but you can always try!!