Among the multitude of troubles faced by frequent travelers, cleaning and caring for their luggage is a quite common one. Letting your imagination loose will help you understand what your suitcase goes through during those memorable trips. And if you remember any bad experiences, know that your luggage probably went through worse.

Everyone from the airport personnel to the hotel staff to your cabbie can be accused of badly handling your luggage. Not to mention the joyride it sometimes takes on the luggage conveyor belt at the airport. And if you’re also negligent in the care and handling of your suitcase, its condition will only further deteriorate.


Your luggage deserves care and pampering for being your companion through so many journeys. Frequent travelers often develop an attachment to their luggage. The key to prolonging the life of your suitcase is regular upkeep.

Regular cleaning and airing out should keep your suitcase in top condition and free of any funky smells. Also, exercising care in where you store your luggage will help prevent mold and mildew from taking hold.

before after 

Here are the steps to easily clean your suitcase, as well as methods for removing odor from it.


Cleaning a Hard-Shell Suitcase

Things you’ll need:

  • Hard suitcase things needHard-shell suitcase
  • Water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Sponge pad
  • Toothpaste
  • Eraser
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Towel

Step 1. Mix the dishwashing liquid in water

Mix the dishwashing liquid in water

Put ½ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in a bowl of water. Stir well to thoroughly dissolve the dish soap in the water.

Your cleaning solution is ready.

Step 2. Dip a lint-free cloth in the cleaning solution

Dip lint free cloth in cleaning solution

Dip the lint-free cloth into the cleaning solution. Squeeze the excess liquid out.


Step 3. Clean the suitcase with the wet cloth

Clean the suitcase with the wetcloth

Clean suitcase with wetcloth

Wipe the surface of the suitcase clean with the wet cloth. Although most of the surface will come clean this way, the tougher dirt stains will take some elbow grease. Moisten the cloth and work it over the tough stains repeatedly until they come off.

Clean the cloth in the cleaning solution when it gets dirty. A dirty cloth will end up smearing grime across the surface, instead of cleaning it.


Step 4. Remove any sticky marks with an eraser

Most of the dirt stains will come off with the soapy cloth, but there may bea host of sticky spots that refuse to budge.These sticky spots accumulate dirt. Just raid your stationery supplies for an eraser to get rid of such spots.

Remove sticky marks with an eraser

Remove sticky marks with eraser

Rub the eraser over the sticky spots. You’ll notice that along with the eraser dust, the spots come off as well.

Step 5. Treat any scratch marks with toothpaste

Now to deal with all those scuff marks – remember the time when your suitcase slipped down the porch stairs? Yes, it left some scratches behind. You won’t be able to make them go away, but you can diminish their appearance by polishing with toothpaste.

Treat scratch marks with toothpaste


Treat scratch marks

Treat any scratch marks

Treat scratchmarks with toothpaste

Use plain white toothpaste for this purpose. Just squirt some paste on the surface and polish it with a clean end of the lint-free cloth and a sponge pad.

Step 6. Clean the wheels

Clean the wheels

Don’t forget the wheels. The wheels of any piece of luggage suffer the most. Clean off all the visible grit and grime with a sponge soaked in water.

When not maintained properly, the wheels can get damaged even if your suitcase is in good condition. You wouldn’t want the wheels of your suitcase giving up on you in the middle of a journey, would you?

Step 7. Wipe down the suitcase with a towel

Wipe down the suitcase with a towel

Wipe the suitcase with a towel

When you’re done wiping, spot cleaning, buffing and polishing your suitcase, wipe it all over with a clean, dry towel using circular motions.

Step 8. Clean the inside of the suitcase

Clean the inside of suitcase

Clean the suitcase from inside

Clean suitcase from inside


Now that you’ve cleaned the exterior of your suitcase, it’s time to clean the interior. Clean the insides with a lint-free cloth soaked in the cleaning solution. Be sure to squeeze the excess water out of the cloth, as the interior fabric of the suitcase may soak up the moisture.

Step 9. Wipe with a dry towel and let air dry

Wipe with a dry towel

Let air dry

Finish up the cleaning by drying the fabric with a fresh towel. Let the suitcase stay open to air-dry.

Cleaning a Soft-Sided Suitcase

Things you’ll need:

Soft suitcase things need

  • Soft-sided suitcase
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Brush
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Towel

A. Regular Cleaning

A regular cleaning routine should be maintained to keep your suitcase in top condition. Vacuuming and brushing your suitcase before and after every use also helps you avoid bulk cleaning.

Step 1. Vacuum the suitcase, inside and outside

Vacuum the suitcase

Vacuum inside and outside

Contrary to hard-shell suitcases, the soft-sided ones absorb a lot of loose dust. So, start the cleaning by vacuuming the exterior to remove all the loose dust. You’ll soon notice the difference. Vacuum the interior fabric of the suitcase as well.

Step 2. Brush the wheels

Brush the wheels

Use a brush with fine bristles to clean the wheels. Brush the loose debris off the wheels.

If your suitcase is sufficiently clean, you can stop. But if it needs a more thorough job, move on to the next step.

B. Extensive Cleaning

Step 1. Prepare the cleaning solution

Prepare the cleaning solution

Start by preparing the cleaning solution. Add ¼ teaspoon (about 2 or 3 drops) of dishwashing liquid to a bowl filled with water. Stir to mix the dish soap evenly into the water.

Step 2. Dip a lint-free cloth in the cleaning solution

Dip lint free cloth cleaning solution

Dip an end of a lint-free cloth into the cleaning solution. Squeeze out the excess water. Keep the cleaning end only slightly moist. Remember that we’re going for surface cleaning, rather than soaking.

Step 3. Clean the suitcase, drying simultaneously

Clean the suitcase

Dry with another cloth

Rub clean the suitcase

Clean the exterior with the wet lint-free cloth. Keep drying the area with a dry towel simultaneously. This will prevent the liquid from soaking into the fabric. Clean all the surfaces – front, back and sides as well as top and bottom.

Step 4. Clean the handles, feet and wheels

Clean the handles

Clean the feet

Clean the wheels

When you’re done cleaning the surfaces, get to the parts that generally become a hub for germs. Clean the handles and the wheels of the suitcase. Clean the feet of your suitcase as well. Instead of feet, your suitcase may have base studs like the one in this example.

Step 5. Clean the inside of the bag

Clean the inside of bag

Clean inside of the bag

Give the interior of the bag a wipe-down as well. Use your fingers to get the cloth inside the crevices. Follow each cleaning with a dry towel rub.

Step 6. Let it air dry

Let it air dry

Let air dry

Keep the suitcase open in a well-ventilated space to let the moisture evaporate.

Ways to Remove Odors from a Suitcase

Things you’ll need:

Remove odor things need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Small spray bottle

Method 1: Using Baking Soda

Step 1. Sprinkle baking soda inside the suitcase

Sprinkle baking soda inside

Sprinkle baking soda liberally inside the suitcase.

Step 2. Close the suitcase and leave for 1 to 2 days

Close and leave the suitcase for 1 to 2 days

Close the suitcase and leave the baking soda inside it for 1 to 2 days. Do a sniff check daily to determine if the smells have disappeared.

Step 3. Vacuum the interior

Vacuum the interior

Vacuum interior

Once the smells have dissipated, vacuum the interior of the suitcase to clean up the baking soda.

Method 2: Using White Vinegar

Step 1. Make a white vinegar solution

Make a white vinegar solution

Make a white vinegar solution to treat the odor in your suitcase. Put white vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:3 in a small spray bottle. Shake it to mix the vinegar into the water.

Alternatively, a lemon juice solution also works well.

Step 2. Spray the insides with the solution

Spray the insides with solution

Spray the white vinegar solution all over the interior of the suitcase.

Step 3. Let the suitcase dry

Let the suitcase dry

Let the suitcase dry in a well-ventilated space away from sunlight.

Additional Tips

  • If you are a frequent flyer, develop the habit of travelling light. Travelling with a single suitcase or travel bag, you can easily avoid checking in your luggage. This saves your suitcase from poor handling by the airport personnel.
  • To retain that new look in your luggage; wipe it down regularly with alcohol-free baby wipes. Follow with a soft, dry towel or microfiber cloth.
  • Avoid drying your bag in direct sunlight. It can cause the surface to fade, weaken or damage.
  • If your luggage has picked up bed bugs from your trip abroad, spray your bag with 91percent isopropyl alcohol to kill them on contact. Then, vacuum out the entire bag, including the crevices.
  • When not in use, store your luggage in a dry space, covered loosely with a breathable fabric to prevent mold and mildew. Regular airing of the luggage also prevents mold and mildew.
  • Bags that are made of 100percent cotton without any trim, rigid base or quilting (and many canvas bags) can be machine washed. Check the tag of your bag to see if it’s possible.
  • Keep your makeup and toiletries in individual bags that can contain any spills and save the interior of your suitcase.
  • Keeping some charcoal in your bag for 1 to 2days absorbs the most stubborn of the smells. You can keep your suitcase smelling fresh by putting a dryer sheet or a bar of soap in it when not in use.