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Suitcase Care and Cleaning after a Trip

If you travel somewhat regularly, you know how much of a beating your luggage can take. From being handled roughly by airline staff to being crammed into trunks and much more, even the most durable luggage can get damaged after a while.

However, there are a few ways you can care for your luggage, including properly cleaning it, to keep it in good shape and prevent it from getting too worn. Follow our tips below for cleaning a suitcase – both hardshell and softshell – and how to care for your luggage while traveling and at home.

How to Care and Clean a Hardshell Suitcase

Hard-sided suitcases are typically easier to clean than soft-sided ones because they’re generally more durable and don’t stain as easily. But you’ll still want to know how to clean luggage to keep your hard-sided suitcase in the best possible shape.

First, check your suitcase for any removable parts like liners. If there are any, remove them and either wash them in your washing machine on a delicate setting or soak them in a mixture of warm water and gentle dish soap.

Wondering how to clean the inside of your suitcase? Easy peasy! Before putting the removable parts back in, simply vacuum out your suitcase with a handheld vacuum or a standard vacuum with a hose attachment.

Next, wipe down the exterior using the same soap and warm water mixture (or the proper luggage cleaner) on the outside of your hard-sided suitcase as you did on the removable parts. With a non-scratch sponge or a washcloth, give the exterior a thorough scrubbing. Wipe down handles, luggage wheels, and other accessories.

Finally, dry off your suitcase’s exterior with a dry microfiber cloth and admire your clean luggage!

How to Care and Clean a Soft-sided Suitcase

Because their exteriors are made of fabric rather than a solid material, soft-sided suitcases are more prone to staining, making them somewhat more difficult to clean. But once you know how to clean a cloth suitcase, your soft-sided luggage will look like new again!

Similar to how you wash a hard-sided suitcase, you’ll start by removing any liners or other components to soak or clean in your washing machine. Dry them thoroughly and vacuum out of the inside of your suitcase and any compartments before putting them back in.

The exterior of soft-sided luggage tends to accumulate lint, pet hair, dust, and dirt over time. The best way to clean the luggage’s exterior fabric is to thoroughly lint roll the surface.

Although you can’t completely wash a soft-sided suitcase, you can spot-clean it as needed. To do so, use a clean washcloth, a mixture of warm water, and a mild laundry detergent (or the proper luggage cleaner) to scrub stains away.

Luggage Care and Cleaning tips

In addition to following the cleaning tips above, the care and cleaning tips below will help your luggage last longer.

  • Always leave the zipper pulls in the middle (never at the corner) of your suitcase. More blows are absorbed into the corners than any other part of the bag, which can cause the zippers to rupture and open.
  • Avoid dragging luggage up or down stairs. The wheels are designed to be rolled.
  • Never pick up the bag by the adjustable handle. Always use the top carry handle.
  • Invest in a protective plastic cover for your suitcase. This will protect your luggage from scratches, scuffs, and minor damage.
  • If you’re wondering where to store luggage, a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight is best. Sunlight can cause fading, and a damp area can cause luggage to get mold.
  • Don’t stack any items on top of soft-shelled suitcases, and don’t stack heavy items on top of any luggage.
  • When necessary, repair any broken parts. Check out our luggage repair guide and shop for the self-repair kit you need if you’ll be fixing it yourself.

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