DIY accessory repairs

Bend your stretched-out plastic sunglasses back into shape.

Story highlights

  • Don't replace your accessories when you can repair them to brand-new status
  • Bring the shine back to dull jewelry with warm water and dish liquid
  • Revive the shape of your old leather bag or crushed hat

How to fix bent-out-of-shape bags, dull jewelry, scratched leather, and more.

Problem: Stretched-Out Plastic Sunglasses

Solution: Skip the emergency trip to the Sunglass Hut: Immerse the sunglasses in hot water, or blast them with a hair dryer until the plastic starts to become flexible, then slowly and gently bend the frame back into shape.

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Problem: Dull Jewelry

Solution: The gentlest way to clean and brighten all kinds of jewelry is to scrub with a soft toothbrush dipped in warm water that's been spiked with a few drops of dishwashing liquid. For plain silver jewelry without gemstones or intricate patterns, a quick-shine strategy is to soak the items in a mixture of ½ cup warm water, three to four drops of dishwashing liquid, and one drop of household ammonia.

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Problem: Scratched Leather Shoes or Bag

Solution: No single method works on all items, so experts say you must first test-treat a hidden spot. Chris Moore, owner of Artbag, a leather-restoring shop in New York City, suggests dabbing the area with a little distilled white vinegar to swell the scratch (think handbag collagen). Let it dry, then buff the item with a colorless shoe polish. Bold souls might venture to carefully fill in a scratch with a felt-tip pen in the same color

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Problem: Bent-out-of-Shape Leather Bag

Solution, unlined bag: Melanie Charlton, founder of Clos-ette, a New York City wardrobe consulting service, recommends wiping down the inside with a solution of five parts distilled white vinegar to one part water; this will make the bag more flexible. Then stuff the interior with tissue paper.

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Solution, lined bag: Let it stand, stuffed with tissue paper, for a few days. Or just carry it: Daily use will often help a bag regain its natural shape.

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Problem: Crushed Hat

Solution: Most crushed hats will be restored after a few days spent gently stuffed with tissue paper. Use gift-wrapping tissue for the hats you wear regularly; for those you're planning to store away, use the acid-free kind. You can also buy plastic hat molds, in styles from fez to fedora, at

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