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How to Clean Your Suitcase

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We often return with treasures from our travels, but one thing we don’t want to bring home is the number of germs we pick up along the way, especially on our trusty sidekicks – our suitcases.

We wheel our luggage through airports and security scanners and down unclean streets. As COVID-19 keeps us home and curtails travel, it’s the perfect time to give your case a little TLC.

Here you can learn how to clean your suitcase inside and out. Grab your cleaning supplies and let’s get down to business!

Cleaning the Exterior of Your Suitcase

Check the manufacturer’s instructions for all acceptable cleaning and sanitizing products, especially if your suitcase is under warranty. These are usually listed on the brand’s website and will guide you through what cleaning products you can and can’t use on the different materials of your suitcase.

Hard-Shell Exterior

Start with the outside of your luggage. If you have a hard case suitcase, you can use a variety of products to clean and disinfect, from wipes and sprays to a mixture of soap or 70% alcohol and hot water.

First, clean any dirt and build-up on the outside of your suitcase by scrubbing it with the cleaner of your choice. I use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap mixed with water. You can simply mix one-quarter cup of any mild soap with a quart of warm water in a spray bottle and wipe down the hard-sided exterior shell of your suitcase with a soft towel or microfiber cloth. Pay attention to germ hot spots like handles, locks, luggage tags, wheels (swivel them around to get every inch) and the bottom of the suitcase.

After you fully clean the outside of your suitcase with soap and water, take a sanitizer spray and wipe the entire suitcase down with a cloth. Again, focus on areas that encounter the most germs. I make my own spray by mixing two parts of rubbing alcohol to one part of water in a spray bottle. You can also use store bought sanitizing sprays or wipes.

Use gloves or be sure to wash your hands right after you’ve completed this deep cleaning session, as not to spread germs to other services of your home.

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Soft-Shell Exterior

If your suitcase has a soft-shell exterior made of fabric, you can still follow the instructions for the hard-shell exterior but skip the sanitizing step as this can damage or discolor the fabric. If there are stains on the luggage, try using an upholstery shampoo. Companies always recommend testing the product on an inconspicuous area like the bottom to prevent staining. Make sure that you air-dry the bag before storing it, so it doesn’t develop a musty smell.

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Cleaning the Inside of Your Suitcase

The inside of your suitcase is your home away from home on the road and has carried your precious possessions and adored souvenirs all around the world. Show it some love in the form of cleaning.

Detach any liners or laundry bags that can be removed and launder them in warm water. As always, check the manufacturer’s guidance and wash any material in accordance to the instructions.

Vacuum the inside of the suitcase to get rid of any dirt and debris you’ve accumulated along your journey – we’re looking at you, sand! Use your vacuum’s upholstery attachment to get into all of the nooks and crannies, including pockets. Then, wipe the inside of the suitcase with the mild soap and warm water mixture that was used to clean the exterior. If you’ve had a spill inside your suitcase, you can use upholstery shampoo.

More Tips on How to Clean Your Suitcase From AAA Travel

  • Double bag any liquids or gels to prevent spilling or consider switching to bar soaps, shampoos and conditioners when possible.
  • Use packing cubes to keep any germ-ridden items from touching the inside of your case. Hello, dirty shoes!
  • Spray hand sanitizer directly on your suitcase handle after picking it up from the luggage claim or anytime someone else might have handled it to prevent any germy situations.

Storing Your Luggage

A lot of suitcases come with a dust bag for storage; if you don’t have one or want to buy new, they are an inexpensive investment. Make sure that your luggage is completely dry from your deep-cleaning session and simply slip the dust bag over your suitcase before storing.

Now it’s time to start dreaming about your next trip. When it comes time to plan, AAA Travel is here for you.

Do you have any tips on how to sanitize your suitcase? Share them with us in the comments.


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2 Thoughts on “How to Clean Your Suitcase

    1. Hi Sharon! Thank you for the great feedback. Hope you are able to take advantage of AAA travel discounts again soon! -MM

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