We’re currently in “disinfect everything” mode, so while you’re stuck at home, why not give your suitcase a wipe-down? Even when travel gets back to normal, it’s important to know how to clean a suitcase—think of all the germs and just regular old dirt and grime you pick up your suitcase as you roll it through the streets and subways, not to mention from the overhead compartments and baggage claim.
So I did what any reasonable person would do. I went on Google and searched for how to clean luggage.
It turns out that it’s not that simple. Fabric, hard shell, and leather suitcases each require a different technique. And then there are additional techniques for cleaning the interior, restoring plastic parts, and cleaning off grease and scuff marks.
I decided that because there’s so much info there, this would make up for a great article. So I researched everything I could, tested it out myself, and wrote the ultimate guide for cleaning luggage. In this post, I’ll share the best techniques for cleaning luggage, and answer all the most commonly asked questions.
How to Clean Your Suitcase Wheels and Handles
The wheels and handles of your suitcase are the most important parts to clean. If you wouldn’t wear your shoes inside your house, why would you roll your suitcase inside without wiping off the wheels? Use a disinfectant wipe or microfiber cleaning cloth plus disinfectant cleaning spray to thoroughly wipe off any dirt from the wheels, making sure you fully rotate each wheel through the cleaning cloth.
Retract the suitcase’s handle and wipe down the handle, buttons, and shaft, leaving it open to dry completely before putting it away for storage.
How to Clean the Outside of Fabric Suitcases
Most soft-sided suitcases can be cleaned using a disinfectant wipe. Always spot test an inconspicuous corner of your luggage before using a new cleaning product to make sure it doesn’t cause damage or discoloration.
Wipe down the entire exterior of the suitcase, spending the most time cleaning the bottom of your suitcase, which is most likely to attract dirt.
How to Clean Hard-Sided Luggage
A disinfectant wipe is the easiest and quickest way to clean a hard-sided suitcase as well. Even with a hard surface, you should do a spot test to make sure it won’t damage the luggage’s coating.
If your hard-sided luggage has gotten some scuffs during transit, try a Magic Eraser to buff them out and make your suitcase look like new again.
How to Clean Inside a Suitcase
Vacuum the inside of the suitcase, paying special attention to the areas around the zippers and inside pockets, where dirt and bugs can hide.
Use a stain pen like Tide to Go to treat any stains inside the luggage. Make sure to let the treated area dry before closing the suitcase for storage—damp areas can cause mold if put away while wet.
How to Treat a Suitcase for Bedbugs
If you believe your suitcase may have picked up bedbugs during your travels, do not bring it inside your house or car. Leave it outside or in a garage, and treat it using a portable heating method that reaches at least 118 degrees. Although adult bedbugs will die after 20 minutes, you’ll need to continue to heat your suitcase for a minimum of 90 minutes to kill the eggs.