How do you clean the inside of your luggage?

Do frequent travelers need to clean their luggage? If so, how often? Reader C. asks…12-3-14-1

I’ve been traveling regularly for work for over a year now. I’ve noticed some small stains on my suitcase. Do I need to clean it? What’s the best way?

Great question.  I personally try to do a cleaning of my luggage about twice a year.  I have a new bag that I’ll be writing a review on soon, but the luggage that I’ve most recently cleaned was the  Victorinox Luggage Werks Traveler 20 Bag

Why do I clean my luggage?  Well, I guess it’s just something that seems like it would be a good idea to do.  Your luggage gets exposed to a lot of dirt and dust on the road, and to bring that inside my house without ever cleaning it seems, well, dirty.  I should probably clean it more often than twice a year based on how much I travel, but I always find myself remembering that it needs to be cleaned when I’m on the road.  So here are a few ways I keep my soft sided luggage clean.

Spot clean the outside and inside.  The good news is my luggage (which is made of nylon) is black so I typically don’t see dark stains on the outside of my luggage.  If there’s a stain that’s large and noticeable enough on the inside or outside I’ll take a soft cloth, lightly dip in warm water, and then gently dab at the stain until it’s mostly gone.  I don’t mind my luggage showing some miles on the outside, but again if it’s a large enough stain I’ll clean it so my luggage looks professional (since it’s often in the office with me).  Be sure you understand the material you are working with before you start using liquids when cleaning you luggage, even if it’s a light amount of warm water.  With my luggage hand cleaning in this way is ok, but before cleaning your luggage I recommend checking out info online, finding a tag inside your luggage, or contacting the manufacture.  Better safe than sorry!

Vacuum inside and out.  Once I’m done spot cleaning I’ll let those spots dry then vacuum the inside and outside of the luggage thoroughly.  I like to get down in every little crevice I can find because that’s where most of the six months of dust and dirt likes to hide.

Baking Soda sock. If my bag has an odor for whatever reason that won’t go away a sock tied off with a little bit of baking soda usually does the trick to eliminate the odor.  Take a clean sock and scoop about three tablespoons of baking soda into it, tie it off, and leave it in your zipped up luggage for a couple of days (repeat as necessary if odor remains).  Some people use Febreze, but I stay away from sprays when it comes to luggage cleaning.  Plus I just don’t like the smell of Febreze.

Bag for dirty clothes. Dirty clothes seem to be the biggest cause of dirtying up the inside of my luggage.  I used to travel with plastic grocery bags, but I went through them so often I started feeling guilty about the environmental impact.  I tried using a pillowcase but the odor seeped through.  Then I discovered these Eagle Creek Compression Sacs.   Just throw your dirty clothes in a sac, zip it up, and problem solved.

Beyond this I really don’t do anything else.  The outside of soft sided luggage should keep the inside of your bag mostly protected from the grind of travel.  Because of this my bag stays pretty clean on the inside so I don’t need to clean it often.  With that being said the inside needs attention time to time, so with a little maintenance like this you’ll probably have the cleanest luggage on the block!

Readers, do you ever clean your luggage?  If so do you have any tips for how you keep your luggage clean? 


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  1. Not so much for cleaning, but can ‘freshen’ up the interior is a dryer sheet. Most people use them for shoes but they can be nice to throw in the suitcase between trips to ‘air’ it out.

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