How To Properly Clean And Store Luggage

By Randy Yagi

Whether you’re a frequent traveler or a casual vacationer, chances are your luggage has picked up some dirt and grime and handled by everyone from airport employees to Uber drivers. Along the way, your luggage may have also picked up plenty of unwanted guests, e.g. viruses and bacteria. While your reliable luggage can be professionally cleaned, the cost of that service can oftentimes be quite expensive. Instead, with a few household products, you can save time and money by cleaning it on your own in a matter of minutes. Here are a few tried and true methods to help keep your luggage looking clean, fresh and looking great for your next trip.

Step 1: Vacuum

This first step may be not be necessary for hard sided luggage, but on many occasions a suitcase may need to be vacuumed both inside and out before it can be cleaned. Because soft sided luggage tends to have many compartments, each should be inspected for loose items like jewelry and keys before vacuuming up dust and loose debris.

Related: How To Guide For Traveling Alone

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Step 2: Cleaning Solution

Just a few household products are needed to make a simple cleaning solution for soft sided luggage materials, such as ballistic nylon or polyester. This includes warm (but not hot) water and dishwashing liquid, laundry soap or a gentle hand soap. Baking soda may also be added to the mixture, especially the luggage has stubborn stains that require extra work. This mixture works just as well for hard sided luggage made of materials like aluminum or poly-carbonate. Baking soda and a mixture of water and vinegar are also effective in removing odors from either type of luggage and its interior fabrics.

Step 3: Cleaning

Once the solution has been prepared, it’s likely not necessary to test it on a small portion of the luggage with a sponge or damp to ensure it won’t damage the material. Otherwise, the luggage should be cleaned inside and out. At the same time, the handles should also be cleaned with the cleaning solution or disinfectant wipes, as well as the wheels and the bottom-side. It’s also a good time to visually inspect how it rolls and ensure the luggage trolley can still retract easily. Alternatively, if the luggage requires a deep cleaning, it can be cleaned in a sink or bathtub with the cleaning solution. For stubborn stains, a dish brush can be used but only gently to ensure it doesn’t leave a faded area. Even harder stains may require a toothbrush. This is particularly helpful for hard sided luggage.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Step 4: Drying

After cleaning, the luggage should aired out but not under direct sunlight, which may damage and fade the material. If an odor continues to be noticeable, baking soda can be sprinkled on the interior then left overnight. If that doesn’t work, a solution of half a cup of water and half a cup of lemon juice may be sprayed onto the material. Another option is used to an odor eliminating product such as those made by Febreze, Mrs. Meyers or Arm & Hammer.

Step 5: Storing

After luggage has been cleaned and is smelling fresh, it should then be stored in a cool, dry spot in the home. A garage may also be suitable but can be exposed to additional dust and debris. On the other hand, luggage should not be stored in a potentially humid, dark or damp spots like an attic or basement that can attract mold or mildew. When it’s ready for the next trip, luggage can be wiped down to remove dust and/or spot cleaned to ensure it looks nearly as good as new.

Related: Saving Space: How To Pack Your Bulky Winter Clothing

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