How To Clean A Suitcase

How To Clean A Suitcase

Michael Keogh

Suitcase cleaning is one of those bothersome tasks we all tend to avoid for far too long. But if you travel regularly, it's likely your luggage will become dirty sooner or later. From muddy floors to spilt makeup, some messes are simply unavoidable. No matter how hard you try and keep your travel accessories in good condition, knowing how to clean a suitcase is sure to come in handy.

If your favourite suitcase is starting to look a little grubby, here are some expert tips on how to clean luggage.


Cleaning Inside Your Suitcase

Cleaning Inside Your Suitcase

Keeping the inside of your suitcase clean is no walk in the park. Dirty shoes, wet laundry and used towels can lead to a build-up of mould and moisture damage, but there are steps you can take to minimise unsightly stains on your suitcase's interior.

Prevention is always better than treatment, so try and avoid making a mess inside your suitcase with these tips:

  • Wrap up wet clothes and shoes inside plastic bags to prevent moisture from being absorbed into your suitcase's interior.
  • Use watertight containers for your toiletries to keep liquids from seeping throughout your luggage.
  • Use zip lock plastic bags to seal off items that might be at risk of spilling.

If the inside of your suitcase is already stained, you may need to rely on tough cleaning agents to get it looking clean again.

To create your own cleaning solution, combine some denatured alcohol (also known as industrial alcohol) with water and complete the following:

  1. Dip a cloth into the mixture, wring it out, and use it to wipe down your suitcase's lining.
  2. Avoid soaking your suitcase, as this might cause even more moisture damage.
  3. Leave your suitcase open to ensure it dries properly.

You may need to repeat this process multiple times to shift stubborn stains. If you spill something on the inside of your suitcase while you're travelling, use baby wipes or disinfectant wipes to clean up the worst of the mess. You can always clean your bag more thoroughly once you're back home.


How to Clean Luggage with an Upholstery Cleaner

Stain-resistant and hardwearing, synthetic fabrics like nylon are widely used in luggage manufacturing. From suitcases to backpacks, using an upholstery cleaner is a great way to get stains out of synthetic materials. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to freshen up synthetic luggage with an upholstery cleaner:

  1. Remove large dust particles and dirt with a clothes brush or vacuum cleaner.
  2. Find a suitable detergent to use with your upholstery cleaner. Any fabric or textile cleaning solution that foams up when applied should do the trick.
  3. Apply the foaming solution to your luggage, paying extra attention to stained areas.
  4. Wait around 10 minutes, then suction off all the foam using your upholstery cleaner.

Repeat this process if some stains still show up.


Can You Dry Clean a Suitcase?

Choosing to dry clean luggage is a great idea if you're not sure how to improve your suitcase's appearance by yourself. Some materials can be compromised by the cleaning process, so it's best to call in a professional if you're worried about damaging your suitcase or bag beyond repair.

For instance, trying to clean a leather bag with water and detergent can ruin its texture and make stains even worse. Opting to use a dry cleaning service may come at a cost, but it's better than accidently ruining a pricey piece of luggage.

To avoid expensive drycleaner bills, there are ways to prevent your luggage from staining in the first place. Coat the outside of your bag with a protective spray like Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector to repel water damage and stains (don't go overboard with Scotchgard, as it can darken coloured fabrics when applied too heavily).


How to Clean a Suitcase from Bed Bugs

How to Clean a Suitcase from Bed Bugs

Not to cause alarm, but bed bugs have been known to latch onto suitcases. Catching bed bugs is always a risk when travelling, especially if you tend to stay in cheap hostels (although high-end hotels aren't immune to these parasitic critters either). If you're worried your luggage may have caught bed bugs, there's no need to panic. Bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a serious pest.

Rather than setting fire to your suitcase, simply mist it with a generous amount of bug spray. It's also advisable to wash any items that were stored inside your luggage just in case they've been contaminated. If you really want to make sure your suitcase is free of bed bugs, wash your suitcase in hot soapy water.

Not sure how to prevent bed bugs from getting into your suitcase? Checking the sheets in your hotel room is a good place to start. If you see anything that looks like a bed bug, you might want to consider changing accommodation.


How to Clean Spills

Ever had a bottle of shampoo or body wash explode inside your suitcase? It might look like a disaster, but this kind of mess is actually quite easy to clean up. Empty out your suitcase to keep the spill from spreading, and wipe up the worst of the mess using a cloth or paper towel. Be sure to check inside all your suitcase's little compartments, otherwise pockets of liquid could get left behind.

If the substance that spilled inside your suitcase was particularly sticky, you may need to hose the whole thing out. Cleaning your suitcase sooner rather than later will make the job easier, as stains tend to get more stubborn over time.  


These suitcase cleaning tips can make tough stains disappear in an instant. For more advice on everything luggage related, check out more helpful articles on the Bags To Go blog.