Airlines, taxi cabs, and people themselves will ding up luggage or carry-on cases causing scratches and scuff marks. Then somehow drinks and food manage to get bonded onto our luggage and seem to be held on tight. Next time, let’s buy black luggage!
There are different methods and procedures for cleaning different types of damage for the material your luggage is covered with such as leather suitcases, hard-shell, carry-ons, and fabric covered baggage. All carry-on luggage of various fabrics are cleaned differently and discussed here.
Cleaning the Inside of Luggage
The inside is the best place to start. This might be the only place that has spilled body oils, shampoo, or other debris. If your luggage is metal outside, that’s easy to wipe down and keep clean.
- Take off all removable parts inside such as pockets that might attach and wash separately by hand or in the clothes washer on gentle with cold water and laundry detergent. Read the instructions that came with your travel gear.
- Zippers should all be opened. Vacuum the insides everywhere.
Cleaning Fabric Luggage
Fabric luggage cleaning, whether nylon, synthetics, or other fabrics can be cleaned in the bathtub submerging the whole thing including the wheels if so equipped.
- Fill the bathtub with water and laundry detergent. Use a brush or toothbrush for hard-to-remove spots.
- If your luggage isn’t dirty all over, simply put the detergent and water in a kitchen sink or pail and wash the same way. Rinse and towel dry or use a blow dryer if it’s exceedingly wet.
Dry Fabric Cleaner for Luggage
Rather than having a cupboard full of cleaners, this one will clean fabrics, leather, vinyl, plastic, rubber, and more.
I have found Car Guys Super Cleaner sold on Amazon.com to be effective for luggage as well as car upholstery. And, it’s made in the USA!
- Follow the directions on the bottle simply shaking it before using.
- Vacuum or remove loose debris and/or dirt.
- Spray it onto the surface area and use a brush or cloth to clean then use a different towel to wipe away dirty suds and dry.
If you have greasy spots that didn’t come off, try the method below for that.
Removing Grease and Oils from Luggage
This usually happens with checked in luggage and I don’t understand why!
- Rub with an old toothbrush baking soda and cornstarch onto the spot and let it sit for a half hour. It should soak most of the oil up.
- Or try a half cup of warm water adding a tablespoon of dish washing liquid detergent and a tablespoon of Oxi Clean™ a versatile cleaner to be very effective and color safe with no chlorine. It does remove persistent spots and stains that have set in.
- After rubbing it in, use warm water and blot with a towel to dry.
How to Clean Hard-Shell Luggage
Luggage or carry-on cases made of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene plastic), fiberglass, polycarbonate, or hard shell can be cleaned with dish detergent quite well. The DELSEY Paris Helium Aero Hard Side Luggage with Spinner Wheels is a great example of a hard case made of polycarbonate.
- Test clean a small spot first, such as the bottom.
- Use soapy warm water with dish detergent and a cotton cloth, not paper towels.
- Rinse and towel dry. If that worked, do the entire case.
- If you still have stubborn spots, try using baking soda or acetone (nail polish remover).
- Clean the wheels, zippers, and handles.
- Dry the case with the zippers open.
Leather Luggage Cleaning
Luggage being handled, personal use, and cat scratches are all reasons to clean leather luggage. The outside leather should not be vacuumed to avoid scratching the leather with the vacuum parts. Simply use a damp cloth to remove dust. Olive oil, soap, and a cotton towel are sometimes useful as well.
I recommend Leather Honey™ Leather Conditioner sold on Amazon.com to rejuvenate, soften, and moisturize that is non-toxic, not sticky, and made in the USA
It’s great for removing coffee spills, wine, juice stains, and food stains.
Removing Scratches from Leather
A little soapy water can remove small scratches like those shown in the brown leather photo to the left.
A pencil eraser works magic by rubbing it along the scratch.
Smaller scratches will disappear and larger ones will be less visible.
- Toothpaste can be used for deep scratches using an old toothbrush to have them vanish.
- For hard shells, use car wax to minimize scratches and reduce getting new ones. Do not get the wax on black plastic parts that will turn them white.
How to Clean Your Luggage! Victorinox demo video.