How to Clean Your Luggage

How to Clean Your Luggage

Our luggage bags get put through a lot! If they’ve been used at an airport, they’ve passed through countless conveyor belts, many hands, and rested against other bags and surfaces. On road trips they inevitably rest on the floor outside, the car boot, and get stuffed with dirty shoes and clothes by the end of a trip. It’s only right that we take the time to deep-clean our luggage to keep it ship-shape and ready for when we can travel again. Here’s how to clean it.


When you clean your luggage bags, always start with the interior. This is to prevent the need to re-clean any sections of the exterior that might get dirty while you clean inside.


Start by opening all the pockets up and removing everything. This includes all the small, removable pockets and attachments. These can be washed separately in a washing machine or hand-washed in a tub.

Ensure that all zippers and pockets are open and shake the bag out. Then, use the small attachment on your vacuum cleaner to get into all the nooks and crannies. If you don’t have a small enough attachment, use the brush of a dustpan to clear out corners and stitching, then wipe of shake the bag out.


Then wipe with a cleaning cloth using a very diluted laundry solution. If there are any tough stains, use a spot stain cleaner to lift them out. Then, leave the bag open to dry completely.


You may need to prop open tight pockets to allow them to air dry, otherwise, you can use a hairdryer to speed up the process. Make sure the interior is completely dry, otherwise you may encourage the growth of mould and get a musty smell if you close it up while it’s damp. It’s also a nice touch to leave a small piece of card or fabric with a few drops of essential oil or a spray of perfume to give the interior a pleasant smell.

Wheels and Base

The wheels and base can be some of the grimiest parts of your luggage bag. Just think of all the footpaths and streets they’ve been on! To clean, use a brush to dust off any large particles. Then follow with a good wipe using a cleaning solution, paying special attention to any tough stains. If there are wheels, check that nothing is caught in them. If there is dirt or lint built up, use a toothpick to pry it out, then using a cloth wipe the wheel while you spin it to ensure that the entire wheel has been cleaned.


Handles are high-touch points on your bags, so you’ll want to give them a thorough wipe. For extendable handles, particularly telescoping trolley handles, make sure they are pulled all the way out for cleaning. Wipe with a cleaning solution to remove grime, then follow with a disinfecting solution to make sure that it is free from germs and bacteria. Make sure any luggage tags are removed and do the same for smaller handles on the tops and sides of the bags too.

Cleaning soft-textured exteriors (Canvas, Nylon or Polyester)

  1. Use a dry brush to dust off any large particles. Pay special attention to tight sections near zippers and ribbing where dirt can build up.
  2. For soft, textured fabrics, a foaming soap solution works well to get into the weave of the fabric without soaking it.
  3. Working one side at a time, cover the exterior with the solution and use a cleaning brush to scrub the surface lightly. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, use it to remove the solution. Otherwise, wipe the soap off with clean microfiber cloths.
  4. Repeat the process for dirty patches. Leaving the solution to sit for a few minutes can help lift the dirt and grime before scrubbing.
  5. Leave your bag somewhere open and airy to dry. Somewhere with direct sunlight will help it dry faster – just be sure not to leave it out any longer than it needs to avoid discolouration.

Cleaning hard-shell luggage (Polycarbonate, Aluminium or Polypropylene)

  1. Use a dry brush to dust off large particles.
  2. Prepare your cleaning product. A mild dishsoap can work well – just be sure to test it.
  3. Apply the solution using a soft microfiber cloth or sponge and avoid using anything abrasive that can scratch the surface.
  4. Use clean, dry microfiber cloths to wipe off the solution.
  5. Repeat for any trouble areas.

Cleaning leather or suede luggage

  1. Shake or wipe any large particles off the bag. Avoid using a stiff brush on leather exterior as this can leave scratch marks. Instead, use a soft brush (like a suede brush or an old toothbrush) to clear out tight spaces near zippers or ribbing.
  2. It’s best to use special cleaning solutions for leather as too much water or the wrong substances can tarnish the bags. Follow the directions on the cleaner – usually, a leather cleaner will be applied with a soft cloth and a suede cleaner will be applied with a soft brush.
  3. It’s also a good idea to apply a leather conditioner afterwards to restore the leather to its original colour and remove scuff marks and scratches.

Storing luggage

After your bags are completely dry, they should be stored in a clean, dry place. To save space, store smaller bags in larger ones and keep all your travel accessories (luggage tags, packing cubes, travel wallets etc) inside the bags so that all your necessities are in one place. It’s also a good idea to store your bags inside large garbage bags that will keep them clean and dust-free.

Bonus Tips:

  • Put a towel down under the luggage bag if you are cleaning it on your bed, benchtop or table


  • Packing cubes are a great way to add a layer of distance between the interior of your suitcase and your dirty shoes and clothes

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