Clean and Germ-Free: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Every Part of Your Luggage Sanitized

Traveling is one of life's greatest pleasures, whether it's exploring new cultures or relaxing on a sunny beach. But while we all love the excitement of a new adventure, the aftermath of a trip can be a real challenge. From unpacking to doing laundry, there are plenty of post-travel tasks to tackle. However, there's one essential item that often gets overlooked - your luggage.

After a long journey, your luggage can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, which can pose a risk to your health and wellbeing. But have you ever thought about the last time you cleaned your luggage? Most people remember to disinfect their homes and personal items, but often forget about their trusty travel companions. In fact, according to a recent study, only 20% of travellers clean their luggage after a trip.

Cleaning your luggage may not be the most exciting task, but it's an essential part of travel hygiene. Not only will it help protect you from harmful germs and bacteria, but it will also help prolong the lifespan of your luggage. In this article, we'll provide you with tips on how to clean your luggage after a trip, so you can stay healthy, safe, and stylish on your next adventure.

The Crucial Benefits of Cleaning Your Luggage

Enhanced Hygiene

Regularly cleaning your luggage after each trip helps uphold high hygiene standards by eliminating dirt, germs, and bacteria. This practice safeguards your health and ensures that your belongings remain free from potential contaminants.

Freshness and Odor Control

Cleaning your luggage prevents unpleasant odors from lingering and spreading. By removing any residual smells from spills, food, or damp conditions, you can maintain a fresh and pleasant scent within your luggage.

Increased Longevity

Consistent cleaning and maintenance contribute to the longevity of your luggage. By promptly addressing stains, dirt, and debris, you prevent them from causing permanent damage or wear, preserving the quality and lifespan of your travel companion.

Pest Avoidance

Cleaning your luggage thoroughly helps deter unwanted pests like bed bugs or insects that might have hitchhiked during your travels. By eliminating any potential hiding spots, you minimise the risk of infestations and keep your luggage pest-free.

Streamlined Organization

Cleaning your luggage after every trip presents an opportunity for efficient organisation. By decluttering, arranging items neatly, and discarding unnecessary items, you can optimise the packing and unpacking process, making future trips more streamlined.

Peace of Mind

The assurance of a clean and well-maintained luggage brings peace of mind. Knowing that your belongings are stored in a sanitary environment, free from potential hazards or cross-contamination, allows you to embark on your journeys with confidence and tranquility.

By recognising and embracing these benefits, you can prioritise the regular cleaning of your luggage, ensuring a healthier, more enjoyable, and worry-free travel experience.

Cleaning your luggage


The handles are the most used part of your luggage, and they are also the most exposed. To clean the handle of your luggage, start by extending it fully and wiping it down with gentle soap and water. Use a soft cloth or sponge to remove dirt and grime. After cleaning, it's important to disinfect the handle using a disinfectant spray or wipes. Look for products that contain at least 70% alcohol or other active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide or quaternary ammonium. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label for proper use and to let the disinfectant sit on the surface for the recommended time.

If you have leather handles, use a leather cleaner and conditioner to prevent cracking.


While the bottom of your luggage may seem like the dirtiest part due to its close contact with the floor, experts suggest that it's not a touch point and thus less likely to harbour germs and bacteria. According to experts the risk from wheels is lower than from handles, so there's no need to worry too much about the microbial load. We recommend cleaning the wheels only when they're visibly dirty or when you know they've rolled through something of high risk.

In most cases, using a soapy rag should suffice in cleaning the bottom of your luggage. Cleaning expert and author, Carolyn Forte, recommends using a liquid hand soap such as Palmolive Antibacterial Liquid Hand Wash Soap or Ecolab Advanced Antibacterial Foam Hand Soap. These provide easy application onto a rag and are effective at removing dirt and grime. Alternatively, dishwashing liquids can also do the trick. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow it to air dry before packing it for your next trip.


Zippers can trap dirt and bacteria, and they can also become stiff and difficult to operate. To clean the zippers, use a toothbrush to remove dirt and debris, then use a lubricant such as WD-40 or candle wax to keep them working smoothly.


Cleaning the interior of your suitcase is essential, yet it's also the most challenging part to keep germ-free since it's a porous surface. The first step is to use a vacuum cleaner to remove any crumbs and physical dust, especially in the corners and tight areas.

For purely cosmetic stains, spot cleaning with soap and water can do the trick. For deeper stains, try using a stain remover such as Vanish Oxi Action Fabric Stain Remover Spray or White King Fabric Stain Lift. Apply the stain remover to the entire area and rub it in. Allow it to sit for up to five minutes, then use warm water to clean out. To tackle unpleasant odours, consider using activated charcoal like Armor All Odour Absorbing Charcoal Bag inside your suitcase for a few days to absorb any lingering smells.

Disinfecting wipes can also help sanitize the interior of your suitcase. 

Packing cubes, shoe bags, and other organisers not only help keep your luggage organised but can also be a good way to reduce the need for cleaning the interior of your suitcase. By packing your belongings in these designated compartments, you can minimise contact with the porous surface of your suitcase and reduce the chances of germs and bacteria accumulating inside.

Using packing cubes and other organizers can also make it easier to clean your luggage after a trip. By removing the contents of each compartment and washing them separately, you can avoid having to clean the entire interior of your suitcase. This can save time and effort while also ensuring that your belongings are kept clean and germ-free.



Cleaning the exterior of your luggage is just as important as cleaning the interior, as it's the first line of defence against dirt, germs, and other contaminants. The cleaning process for hard-shell and soft-shell suitcases differs, and it's important to use the right cleaning products and techniques for each type.

For hard-shell suitcases, non-porous luggage can be washed like a pet. We recommend using regular soap and giving the suitcase a good spray with a hose or in the tub. For plastic and synthetic materials such as nylon or vinyl, Mary Gagliardi, also known as Dr. Laundry, suggests using a wipe or a bleach-and-water solution. To make the solution, combine half a cup of bleach (like Clorox regular bleach) for every 3.5 litres of water. Use a sponge or spray to apply the solution to the surface, ensuring it stays wet for five minutes. If it dries, keep reapplying, then rinse the surface with clean water. For scuffs or marks, try using a Magic Eraser with some elbow grease.

For soft-shell suitcases with fabric exteriors, you can use a fabric cleaner to remove stains and dirt. You should also check the manufacturer's instructions for specific cleaning recommendations.

After your bags are completely dry, they should be stored in a clean, dry place. To save space, store smaller bags inside 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. 

Lastly, don't forget to clean your hands after cleaning your luggage. By following these tips, you can keep your luggage clean and germ-free for your next trip.

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Image Credit : @keithmpitts

Updated 17th May, 2023

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