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How to clean luggage — and how often to do it

Time to gIve your luggage a little TLC! A cleaning pro tells you how to do it.
How to clean luggage
Your luggage goes through a lot. It deserves a good cleaning.Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

No matter how you get there, traveling gives your luggage a real beating. With just a little bit of TLC after every trip, however, it can feel fresh, clean and ready for next time. Cleaning coach Leslie Reichert shares her top tips with TODAY Home.

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Handles and bottoms

Wipe handles with a damp microfiber cloth, a disinfecting wipe or an all-purpose cleaner. If there are wheels, wipe them off, too. For bags without wheels, take care to wipe the bottom of the bag. It often ends up sitting directly on floors and picking up all sorts of germs. Yuck!

  • AmazonBasics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, $13 (usually $15), Amazon

These microfiber cloths are so versatile and can be used to clean just about anything.

  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, $14, Amazon

Choose between normal Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and the wipes with "microscrubbers" depending on how dirty the surface is.

  • Lysol All Purpose Cleaner, $13, Amazon

Not only does this cleaner work on luggage, it can work all over the house from stove tops to countertops to bathrooms, according to the brand.


Vacuum the luggage's interior using the upholstery attachment. Don't forget to clean the pockets, too. Wipe away minor spots with a damp microfiber cloth. For stubborn stains, try a bit of upholstery shampoo.

  • Bissell Professional Power Shot Oxy Carpet Spot, $7 (usually $10), Amazon

This spot cleaner claims to lift tough stains such as red wine, grape juice and coffee.

If you had a major spill of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, etc., suction it up with a wet/dry vac. You may have to blot the spill with a bit of water to loosen residue as you vacuum. Repeat as needed to remove as much of the spillage as possible.

  • Armor All Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum, $39 (usually $50), Amazon

This wet/dry vacuum boasts nearly 4,000 Amazon reviews and has 4.2 stars.

Proactive tip: Next time, pack all liquids and spray cans/bottles in plastic zip-close bags.

Check out our interactive guide to learn how to clean your home from top to bottom.


For molded plastic, hard-sided or soft vinyl:

Remove spots using a microfiber cloth and mild soap and water or, for stubborn stains, use a solution of all-purpose, non-abrasive cleaner and water that's mixed according to product directions. Rinse and dry. To add a layer of protection, apply a coat of silicone-based auto wax to hard-sided luggage or a coat of Armor All to soft vinyl or molded plastic. As always, check luggage manufacturer’s care guide for specific recommendations.

  • Griot's Garage Best of Show Wax, $17 (usually $19), Amazon

Although initially formulated for use on cars, this wax works just as well on other hard surfaces, such as hard suitcases.

  • Armor All Original Protectant Pump, $8, Amazon

Armor All is said to fight aging, fading and cracking while helping renew and revitalize vinyl, rubber and plastic.

For nylon and other synthetic fabrics:

Wipe exterior with a damp (not soaking wet) microfiber cloth, taking care not to saturate the fabric. To remove stubborn stains, use a laundry pre-treatment and a mild solution of dish detergent and water or sponge the area lightly with upholstery shampoo, working from the middle of the stain to the edges. (Test products on an inconspicuous spot first.) Air dry away from direct sunlight. Grease stains come clean with some K2R or a similar de-greaser. After cleaning the luggage, spray the bag with light, even coats of Scotchgard to add extra protection.

  • American Home K2R Spot Remover, $11, Amazon

This powerful spot remover is quick drying and can be used on almost any fabric including clothing, carpets, upholstery, wallpaper and more.

  • Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector, $10 (usually $15), Amazon

Protect your suitcases from wear and tear with this Scotchgard fabric protector, which preemptively repels liquids and blocks stains.

For cotton canvas:

Cotton canvas is a breeze to clean. Just toss it in the washer with your usual detergent and run the warm/cotton cycle. Tumble dry until it is just damp, then air dry. When the bag is clean and dry, treat it with Scotchgard. (First, protect painted metal parts like zippers and locks by covering with masking tape.) Before storing your canvas luggage, make sure it is completely dry or you'll end up with a bagful of mildew and rust.

For leather:

Wipe spots with a slightly damp cloth. For stubborn stains, use saddle soap as directed. If stains persist, consult a leather cleaning establishment for help.

This saddle wax cleans, softens and preserves smooth leather, according to the brand.

For more cleaning tips, click here to learn about the best mop and the vacuums that HGTV stars swear by.

This article was originally published on Jan. 29, 2018.