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How To Clean Luggage Bags – Tricks To Make It Sparkle

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If you’ve ever returned from a trip and looked at your luggage with a sigh, wondering, “How to clean luggage bags?” then you’re in the right place. Traveling can be tough on your luggage. From the dirt of the airport floor to the grime of the overhead bin, your luggage can pick up all sorts of unwanted souvenirs.

As a seasoned traveler and a bit of a clean freak, I’ve spent countless hours researching and testing various cleaning techniques. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a vacation warrior and struggle with dirty, grimy luggage, this guide is for you. Together we’ll get rolling on how to clean luggage bags.

How To Clean Luggage Bags?

Luggage can be very dirty and contain bacteria from your previous travels, dirt from the ground on the suitcase, and even sand or salt from the beach. Anything your suitcases come in contact with can make your bags unsanitary. However, the good news is that you can follow any of these easy steps on how to clean luggage bags and keep your bags fresh.

Cleaning Solutions Broken Down For How To Clean Luggage Bags

  • 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 it with cold water. 
How To Clean Luggage Bags sanitize


  • 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 and good for sanitizing the entire interior.
  • Bleach – Bleach is a powerful disinfectant that kills bacteria. However, bleach is toxic, so use it sparingly, wear gloves, and proceed with caution. How to clean luggage bags with bleach; mix one part of bleach with five parts of water. 
    Only use bleach on an area that will not fade, which are very few places!
  • 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 Bags After Travel?

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

Soft Side

Granted, a soft-side fabric suitcase is often easier to clean than hard-side suitcases; with this in mind, here’s how to clean luggage bags that are soft-side:

  • 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 hardside

Hard Side

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

Note: How to get scuff marks off a hard suitcase? A magic eraser will remove unwanted scuff marks, and it is nonabrasive.

  • 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 Inside Of Luggage?

The inside of your luggage is as important as the outside. 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. 

How To Clean Inside Of Luggage

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; make sure to get between the layers and folds. 
  • Rinse well with fresh water and air dry thoroughly. 
how to clean luggage backpacks


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 when it comes to how to clean luggage bags. 

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 your backpack’s interior, removing 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. 

Leather Travel Bags

Leather travel bags and leather suitcases are durable, beautiful, and practical. But how to clean luggage bags in a leather travel bag can be tough.

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 Bags Of Germs With Disinfectant?

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 several 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 of 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. 

How To Keep Luggage Clean?

Short of putting your luggage in a bubble, the best way is to clean it frequently. Every time you come home from a trip, make it a point to clean your luggage.

If you are a person who has issues with germs, you can wrap your bags in plastic. Some airports off this service once just before you check in. I still recommend cleaning your bags after each use.

FAQs About How To Clean Luggage Bags

Here are some commonly asked questions about how to clean luggage bags.

What is the best way to clean the outside of a suitcase?

The best way and safest is to use plain ol’ dish soap and water with a gentle rag. Then rinse thoroughly with a soft cloth.

How do you clean luggage bags after a flight?

The inside starts with a good vacuum, clean it with a damp rag or soap and water and let it air dry, preferably in the sun. Wipe the outside with the same solution and allow it to air dry.

Does Magic Eraser work on luggage?

Magic erasers work very well to remove all types of marks from the outside of a hardshell suitcase. And they are safe!

Quick Overview On How To Clean Luggage Bags

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

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs, and troubleshooting on luggage travel tips, here are some additional posts about luggage travel tips:

How To Clean Luggage Bags – Conclusion

As mentioned above, there are different solutions used to clean your luggage bags. 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 honey 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. 

Make a clean piece of luggage sparkle with a fresh start, and sanitized your luggage for a safe bet. 

Happy travels, my friends. 

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Laura Fuller

Hello, I am a luggage and travel fanatic. With a vast knowledge of TSA regulations, I am here to assist you on your journey. Please join me, and together, we will navigate the world of travel. From TSA and air to cruising the high seas, we will explore the best accessories and tips for smooth travel.

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