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How To Clean Luggage, Disinfect And Sanitize Inside And Out

How To Clean Luggage, Disinfect And Sanitize Inside And Out

Home » Travel Safety » How To Clean Luggage, Disinfect And Sanitize Inside And Out

With every trip comes a new adventure, so why not have your luggage look clean and sparkling. Not to mention, sanitizing your suitcases will decrease germs and promote healthy travels. Let’s look at how to clean luggage for your next fun trip. 

How To Clean Luggage?

Luggage can be very dirty and contain bacteria from previous travelers, dirt from the ground on the suitcase, and even sand or salt from the beach. With this in mind, all of these things can make your bags unsanitary and unhygienic. However, the good news is that you can follow many easy steps to clean your bags. 

What Should I Use to Clean My Luggage?

There are several cleaning products available to help you clean your luggage. My first suggestion is to always check the luggage manufacturers’ recommendations and then proceed with these suggestions.

Some cleaning solutions are: 


  • Dish Soap – A mild dishwashing detergent is an option for cleaning your luggage because it dissolves grease and grime. Just add dish soap to your washing machine and run through a cycle. Rinse and dry. 
  • Vinegar – Vinegar is another excellent option for cleaning your luggage. Mix an equal part of Vinegar and water and apply it with a spray bottle. First, spray the surface and wipe it off with a damp cloth. This method should work for most surfaces.


  • Baking Soda – Baking soda is an inexpensive product that works well to remove odors and get rid of stains. To use baking soda, put 1/2 cup in your wash, then clean and rinse with warm water and dry it thoroughly. Although baking soda is good for cleaning, you can also apply a paste made of baking soda and water to tougher stains, then rinse it with warm water and allow it to dry. You may use a soft brush on non-scratch surfaces to work the paste in if needed. 
  • Honey – Honey is a natural antibacterial agent that is safe for all ages. Combine honey with hot water and soak a towel in this mixture. Place the towel over the stain and leave overnight. In the morning, rinse with warm water and air dry. 
  • Sodium Hydroxide (lye) – Sodium hydroxide is a chemical compound commonly known as lye which you can use to dissolve fats, oils, and grease stains. It is a safe mixture to use around children and pets. Mix equal parts lye and water and apply to stains. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing with cold water. 


  • Wet Wipes – Wet wipes are perfect for removing sweat, oil, makeup, and other stains. Simply rub it onto the area until it comes out clean. Then throw it away. These are convenient and cost-effective. At the same time, wet wipes are also good for sanitizing the entire interior.
  • Bleach – Bleach is a powerful disinfectant that kills bacteria. However, bleach is toxic, so use it with caution and wear gloves. If you use bleach, mix one part of bleach with five parts of water. 
    Only use bleach on an area that will not fade!
  • 70% Alcohol – Rubbing alcohol is a great way to sanitize and disinfect the interior of your luggage. With this in mind, the easiest way to apply Alcohol is with alcohol handy wipes, although you can use an alcohol and water mixture. Wipe down the interior and allow it to air dry.

How To Clean Luggage Of Every Type

Although you want your luggage to look its best, it may take a few tips and tricks to keep your luggage clean.

How to Clean Luggage – Soft Side?

Granted, a soft-side fabric suitcase is often easier to clean than hard-side suitcases; with this in mind, here’s what you need to know to clean soft-side luggage:

  • Use a sponge or rag soaked in warm soapy water. 
  • Rub gently and scrub lightly. Be careful not to scratch the case. 
  • Rinse with fresh, clean water and dry thoroughly. 
  • If needed, you may repeat.

How to Clean Luggage – Hard Side?

Hard-sided luggage can be tricky to clean; for this reason, here’s how to clean hard-sided luggage:

Note: You can use an eraser cleaning pad to remove scuff marks.

  • Use warm water and mild liquid detergent or gentle dish soap. 
  • Gently wipe the outside with a damp soft cloth.
  • Rinse thoroughly with fresh water on a soft dry cloth and let it air dry completely. 

How to Clean Luggage Inside?

The inside of your luggage is as important as the outside with this in mind there are two types of areas you’ll need to clean:

1. The pockets and compartments of the suitcase itself.

2. And the lining inside your suitcase.

Here’s how to clean each area:

Pockets and Compartments

  • Using a damp cloth, wipe down the inside of the pocket and compartment. Use a little bit of soap if necessary.
  • Wipe down any residue left behind with warm water. 

The interior lining of the Suitcase

Note: If your lining has zippers be sure to unzip and clean under the lining also. 

  • Wipe down the suitcase’s interior using a damp rag or cloth at the same time, make sure to get between the layers and folds. 
  • Rinse well with fresh water and air dry thoroughly. 

How to Clean Backpacks?

how to clean luggage pin2

Backpacks are great for storing everything from clothes to toiletries, not to mention they also provide easy access to your belongings as a carry-on. However, backpacks are notoriously tricky to clean. 

In that case, here’s how to clean a backpack:

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior of the pack. 
  • Dampen a second cloth and wipe down the interior of your backpack, which will remove any dirt and grime stuck in the folds.
  • In addition, wipe down the zipper area. 
  • Rinse thoroughly with a damp freshwater cloth and allow to dry completely. 

How To Clean Leather Travel Bags?

Leather travel bags and leather suitcases are durable, beautiful, and practical. But they can be tough to clean.

Here’s a quick guide to cleaning a leather bag:

  • Some suggest using a wet, damp cloth or a soft dry cloth. I prefer to use a leather conditioner in the form of wipes available for cleaning and restoring. 
  • Use the cleaning wipes first and move on to the restoring wipes. You can find these in most automotive departments at Walmart. 
  • Allow the bag to dry, and you will have a beautiful leather travel bag again. 

How to Clean Luggage Of Germs And Disinfect?

Travelers should always disinfect their luggage before packing it. It’s important to keep germs away from your valuables, with this in mind, there are a couple of different ways to disinfect your luggage.

Here is the best way to do this:

  • Sanitize the inside of your suitcase with a solution containing 1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water. Wear gloves when using bleach. Do not use bleach if the interior of your case is a color that will bleach out; instead, use 70% alcohol disinfecting wipes to clean the inside. 
  • Wipe the interior and let it air dry. 

Read Next: What Is The Best Luggage For International Travel?

Quick Overview On How To Clean Your Suitcase

Here is a fast-paced video on how to clean your luggage.

How To Clean Luggage – Summary

As mentioned above, there are different solutions used to clean your luggage. A mild soap and water solution are the best for most types of luggage; however, to disinfect, it requires 70% Alcohol or bleach. 

Leather cleans best with leather wipes, and stains come out best with the honey mixture or baking soda paste. 

I did not mention Vinegar and water much throughout this article, but it is a solution that is an excellent replacement for your basic soap and water. 

The bottom line is a clean piece of luggage is a fresh start, and sanitized luggage is a safe bet. 

Happy travels, my friends. 

Photo of author

Laura Fuller

My name is Laura Fuller, I am a fanatic about luggage and all types of travel. I will be your luggage pilot to help you make the right choice for your travel needs.

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