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How To Wash A Suitcase


by Eolanda Morey



When it comes to travel essentials and accessories, a suitcase is undoubtedly at the top of the list. It’s the trusty companion that carries all our belongings and keeps them safe during our journeys. However, after prolonged use, suitcases can accumulate dirt, stains, and unpleasant odors. To maintain the longevity and cleanliness of your suitcase, it’s essential to know how to properly wash and care for it.


In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through a step-by-step process on how to effectively wash your suitcase, both inside and out. We’ll provide you with valuable tips and techniques to ensure that your suitcase remains fresh, odor-free, and ready for your next adventure.


Whether you have a hard shell suitcase, a soft fabric one, or even a lightweight carry-on, the cleaning methods in this guide can be applied to all types of suitcases. Remember, a clean and well-maintained suitcase not only looks good but also helps to protect your belongings and prevent any potential hygiene issues.


So, let’s dive into the details and learn how to give your suitcase the TLC it deserves!


Step 1: Emptying the Suitcase

The first step in washing your suitcase is to empty it completely. Remove all items, including clothing, toiletries, and any other belongings. This will allow you to have a clear view of the inside of the suitcase and ensure that you can clean every nook and cranny properly.


Take a moment to sort through the items you have removed from the suitcase. Check for any items that may require special care or separate cleaning. For example, delicate fabrics or leather items may need to be hand-washed or taken to a professional cleaner. Set these items aside for later attention.


Once the suitcase is empty, give it a good shake to remove any loose dirt, crumbs, or debris. You can also use a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently remove any stubborn dirt or lint from the interior.


By emptying the suitcase and cleaning out any loose dirt or debris, you create a clean canvas to work with for the rest of the cleaning process. Now that your suitcase is ready, it’s time to move on to the next step: removing any remaining stains or spots.


Step 2: Removing Loose Dirt and Debris

Before diving into the actual washing process, it’s crucial to remove any loose dirt and debris from both the interior and exterior of the suitcase. This step ensures that the cleaning agents can work effectively and prevents dirt from spreading further during the washing process.


To remove loose dirt and debris from the exterior of the suitcase, start by using a soft brush or a damp cloth. Gently brush or wipe the surface, paying special attention to corners, seams, and any textured areas where dirt may accumulate. This will help dislodge and remove any visible dirt particles.


If the exterior of your suitcase has stubborn stains or sticky residue, you can use a mild dish soap or a gentle all-purpose cleaner. Dilute the soap in water, dampen a cloth or sponge with the solution, and gently scrub the affected areas. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they may damage the material or finish of the suitcase.


Next, turn your attention to the interior of the suitcase. You can use a handheld vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, or a soft-bristled brush, to remove loose dirt and dust. Pay close attention to the seams, pockets, and any other compartments where dirt may accumulate.


If you notice any stains or spills on the interior fabric lining of the suitcase, you can spot clean them using a mild detergent or a fabric cleaner. Dampen a cloth with the cleaning solution and gently blot the stained area. Be sure to test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage.


Once you have removed all the loose dirt and debris from both the exterior and interior of the suitcase, it’s time to move on to spot cleaning any stubborn stains.


Step 3: Spot Cleaning Any Stains

Over time, suitcases can acquire unsightly stains from spills, dirt, or other mishaps. Spot cleaning these stains is an important step to restore the appearance of your suitcase. Here’s how you can effectively tackle stains:


1. Identify the stain: Determine the type of stain you’re dealing with. Common stains on suitcases include food, ink, grease, and dirt. Different stains may require different cleaning methods.


2. Pre-treat the stain: For fabric or soft-shell suitcases, pre-treat the stain by applying a small amount of laundry detergent or stain remover directly to the affected area. Gently rub the detergent or stain remover into the stain using a soft cloth or sponge. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to penetrate the stain.


3. Blot the stain: After pre-treating the stain, blot it with a clean, damp cloth or sponge. Avoid rubbing the stain vigorously, as it may push the stain deeper into the fabric or damage the material.


4. Repeat if necessary: If the stain persists, repeat the pre-treatment and blotting process. Sometimes, stubborn stains may require multiple attempts to fully remove them.


5. For hard-shell suitcases: If your suitcase has a hard-shell exterior, you can use a gentle all-purpose cleaner or a mild soap mixed with water. Apply the cleaner to a cloth or sponge and gently scrub the stained area. Be careful not to apply too much pressure or use abrasive materials that could scratch the surface.


6. Rinse and dry: After spot cleaning the stains, rinse the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue. Ensure that you thoroughly dry the cleaned area before moving on to the next step. This will help prevent any water stains or mold growth.


By spot cleaning the stains, you not only improve the appearance of your suitcase but also eliminate any odors or dirt that may have been trapped in the affected area. With the stains taken care of, it’s time to move on to cleaning the exterior of the suitcase.


Step 4: Washing the Exterior

Now that you have spot cleaned any stains on your suitcase, it’s time to give the exterior a thorough wash. This step will help remove any remaining dirt, grime, or residue, leaving your suitcase looking fresh and clean. Here’s how to wash the exterior:


1. Prepare a cleaning solution: Fill a basin or sink with warm water and add a mild detergent or a gentle all-purpose cleaner. Mix it well to create a soapy solution. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can damage the material of the suitcase.


2. Dip a sponge or cloth in the soapy solution: Immerse a soft sponge or cloth into the cleaning solution, ensuring it is thoroughly saturated.


3. Gently scrub the surface: Starting from the top, gently scrub the exterior of the suitcase using the soapy sponge or cloth. Pay close attention to any areas that may have accumulated dirt or grime, such as corners, handles, or zippers. Use circular motions or back-and-forth strokes to loosen and remove the dirt.


4. Rinse with clean water: Once you have cleaned the entire exterior, rinse off the soapy residue by wiping the suitcase with a clean, damp cloth. Make sure to remove all traces of the cleaning solution.


5. Dry the exterior: Use a clean, dry cloth or towel to dry the exterior of the suitcase thoroughly. This will help prevent any water spots or streaks from forming.


If your suitcase has a hard-shell exterior, it is important to note that excessive moisture or prolonged submersion in water can damage the integrity of the shell. Instead of soaking the entire suitcase, focus on spot cleaning and wiping the surface with a damp cloth to avoid any water penetration.


By washing the exterior of your suitcase, you eliminate any dirt or grime that might accumulate during your travels. It also gives your suitcase a refreshed look and ensures a clean and hygienic surface for your belongings. With the exterior clean, it’s time to turn your attention to the interior of the suitcase.


Step 5: Cleaning the Interior

After giving the exterior of your suitcase a thorough cleaning, it’s time to focus on cleaning the interior. This step is essential to remove any lingering odors, dirt, or stains that may have accumulated over time. Follow these steps to effectively clean the interior of your suitcase:


1. Check the manufacturer’s instructions: Before proceeding with any cleaning method, refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or care instructions specific to your suitcase. This will ensure that you choose the appropriate cleaning products and methods without risking damage to the interior lining.


2. Vacuum the interior: Use a handheld vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to vacuum the interior of the suitcase. Pay close attention to corners, pockets, and other hard-to-reach areas where dirt, dust, or debris may have accumulated. This will help remove loose particles and prepare the surface for a deeper clean.


3. Use a mild cleaning solution: Depending on the material of the interior lining, you can create a gentle cleaning solution by mixing warm water with a small amount of mild detergent. Alternatively, you can use a fabric cleaner specifically designed for the type of material used in your suitcase.


4. Spot clean any stains: If you notice any stains or spills on the interior fabric lining, use a soft cloth or sponge dampened with the cleaning solution to spot clean the affected areas. Gently blot the stains, working from the outside towards the center, to prevent them from spreading. Repeat this process as necessary until the stains are removed or significantly reduced.


5. Deodorize the interior: To eliminate any unpleasant odors, you can sprinkle baking soda or place odor absorbers, such as charcoal or silica gel packets, inside the suitcase. Leave them inside for a few hours or overnight to absorb any odors. Afterwards, vacuum or remove the deodorizing agents and wipe down the interior with a clean cloth.


6. Allow proper drying time: After cleaning the interior, ensure that it is fully dry before storing or using the suitcase again. Leave it in a well-ventilated area or use a fan to aid in the drying process. This will help prevent musty odors or mold growth.


Cleaning the interior of your suitcase not only improves its overall cleanliness but also ensures that your belongings remain fresh during your travels. By following these steps, you can maintain a hygienic and pleasant environment inside your suitcase.


Step 6: Drying the Suitcase

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the interior and exterior of your suitcase, it’s important to ensure that it is properly dried before storing or using it again. Proper drying helps prevent mold, mildew, and musty odors. Follow these steps to effectively dry your suitcase:


1. Wipe down the surfaces: Use a clean, dry cloth or towel to wipe down the interior and exterior surfaces of the suitcase. This will help absorb any remaining moisture that may be present. Pay special attention to crevices, seams, and pockets, as these areas tend to retain moisture.


2. Air dry in a well-ventilated area: Place your suitcase in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight. Open all compartments, pockets, and zippers to allow air to circulate freely inside the suitcase. This will help speed up the drying process and prevent any moisture from lingering.


3. Use a fan or dehumidifier: If you’re in a humid environment or need to dry your suitcase quickly, consider using a fan or dehumidifier. Position them near the suitcase to create airflow and remove excess moisture from the air. This can help expedite the drying process.


4. Avoid using heat sources: While it may be tempting to use a hairdryer or heater to speed up the drying process, it’s best to avoid direct heat sources. High heat can cause damage to the material or warp the structure of the suitcase. Stick to natural drying methods for best results.


5. Check for any remaining moisture: Before storing your suitcase, ensure that it is completely dry. Press a clean, dry cloth against the interior lining and check for any signs of dampness. If the cloth comes away moist, continue the drying process until no moisture is detected.


By thoroughly drying your suitcase, you minimize the risk of mold growth and musty odors. This step ensures that your suitcase remains clean and in optimal condition for your next travel adventure. With your suitcase now dry, it’s time to focus on maintaining and storing it properly.


Step 7: Maintaining and Storing the Suitcase

Proper maintenance and storage are key to extending the life of your suitcase and ensuring it’s always in top-notch condition for your future travels. Follow these guidelines to maintain and store your suitcase effectively:


1. Inspect and repair: Regularly inspect your suitcase for any signs of wear and tear, such as loose threads, broken zippers, or damaged handles. Address any minor repairs promptly to prevent further damage. For major repairs, consult a professional luggage repair service.


2. Clean after each use: After each trip, take a few minutes to remove any visible dirt or stains from your suitcase. Spot clean as needed and wipe down the exterior and interior surfaces with a damp cloth. This helps prevent dirt from setting in and makes deep cleaning easier in the future.


3. Store in a dry area: Ensure that your suitcase is completely dry before storing it. Choose a cool, dry area for storage, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Avoid storing it in a damp basement or attic, as moisture can lead to mold and mildew.


4. Use a suitcase cover or dust bag: Consider using a suitcase cover or dust bag to protect your suitcase from dust, scratches, and other elements when not in use. This helps maintain its appearance and extends its lifespan. Make sure the cover or bag is clean and dry before placing your suitcase inside.


5. Store with care: When not in use, keep your suitcase in an upright position to maintain its shape. Do not stack heavy items on top of it, as this can cause undue pressure and deform the structure. Fill any empty spaces or compartments with lightweight items, such as clothing or packing cubes, to help the suitcase maintain its shape.


6. Avoid long-term compression: If storing your suitcase for an extended period, avoid compressing it for long periods. This can lead to creases, wrinkles, and permanent damage. Instead, stuff the interior with bubble wrap or tissue paper to help it retain its shape without applying excessive pressure.


7. Follow manufacturer’s instructions: Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific care instructions and recommendations for your suitcase. Different materials and constructions may require different cleaning methods and storage considerations.


By implementing these maintenance and storage practices, you can keep your suitcase in excellent condition and ready for every adventure. Remember, proper care and attention ensure that your travel companion remains reliable and functional for years to come.



Taking the time to properly wash, clean, and maintain your suitcase is essential for its longevity and functionality. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can keep your suitcase looking fresh and clean for every trip. From emptying and spot cleaning to washing the exterior and interior, each step plays a vital role in ensuring that your suitcase remains in optimal condition.


Regular cleaning not only improves the appearance of your suitcase but also prevents dirt, stains, and odors from building up over time. Spot cleaning stains and using mild cleaning solutions help protect the materials of your suitcase, ensuring it stays in great shape for your future adventures.


Remember to thoroughly dry your suitcase before storing it to prevent mold, mildew, and musty odors. Proper storage with the use of covers or dust bags and following the manufacturer’s guidelines for care and maintenance further contribute to the longevity of your suitcase.


A clean and well-maintained suitcase not only enhances your travel experience but also protects your belongings. By investing a little time and effort in properly caring for your suitcase, you can enjoy its reliable performance for many journeys to come.


So, take the knowledge and tips from this guide and give your suitcase the attention it deserves. Your trusty travel companion will thank you, and you’ll always be ready for your next adventure with a clean and fresh suitcase by your side.