How to Clean Your Luggage Inside & Out 

Follow this clear step-by-step guide to get your luggage looking as good as new.

Published January 6, 2023
Man With Bag And Suitcase Walking In Airport

Welcome home, travelers! After a long week of traveling, you don't want to deal with your dirty clothes, let alone your luggage. But there it sits in the corner of your room in all its grubby glory. Not to worry - cleaning it won't take long. Grab a few essential cleaners and learn how to clean your luggage inside and out.

Removing Stains From Luggage

Have you ever seen what airlines do to luggage? It's not pretty. Your bags might see a lot of action, or you might just pull it out once a year to head off to the Dominican Republic. No matter what kind of traveler you are, you don't want stains on your luggage. Use these quick tips to remove stains on the plastic and fabric areas of your hard shell and soft-sided luggage.

Stain/Issue Cleaner Method
Hard shell/plastic: Scuff marks/scratches Olive oil & Magic Eraser Use eraser to remove mark, rub area with olive oil
Soft side: Grease/oil Baking soda & Dawn dish soap

Cover area with baking soda for at least an hour, vacuum

Scrub with toothbrush using dish soap & water, rinse

Interior: Shampoo/lotion Dish soap Scrub with dish soap on a cloth, rinse
Soft side: Food stains Baking soda Clean with soap and water, scrub with toothbrush using baking soda, rinse
Soft side/interior: Ink on fabric Rubbing alcohol Dip cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, blot stain

Clean Any Luggage Exterior

From being loaded into your car to traveling through the airport, your suitcase can be downright nasty by the time you make it home. And while you want to bring home beautiful memories from your vacay, unsightly smudges and stains on your luggage probably aren't the types of memories you'd like to keep.

Simple Tricks to Clean Fabric Luggage

If you use a backpack as luggage, you can easily toss it in the washer. Sadly, you can't do the same thing for your suitcases, so you need to use some elbow grease to clean your soft-sided bags. Suitcases come in different fabrics, but most can be treated the same way.


  • Microfiber cloth
  • Scrub brush
  • Dish soap
  • Upholstery foam


  1. Wet down a microfiber cloth and wipe down the entire suitcase.
  2. Treat stains.
  3. Fill a bucket with warm water.
  4. Add a bit of dish soap to create a cleaner. (You can also clean with upholstery foam.)
  5. Dip your brush in the cleaner and scrub. (Don't saturate the fabric.)
  6. Wipe with a damp cloth to remove soap.
  7. Allow to air dry.

How to Clean Hard Shell Luggage

Hard shell luggage makes cleanup a breeze, making these suitcases ideal for the rough-and-tumble world of air travel. Manufacturers typically make the bags from polycarbonate, polypropylene, or aluminum. Because they have a hard shell, they're super easy to wipe down.



  1. Mix soap and water to create a cleaner.
  2. Wipe down the entire suitcase.
  3. Remove any scuff marks with a Magic Eraser.
  4. Add baking soda to a wet toothbrush and scrub for stubborn stains or hard to reach areas.
  5. Rinse with a damp cloth.
  6. Dry with a microfiber towel

Tips for Cleaning Leather Luggage

Leather carry-on baggage can get surprisingly dirty when you travel, even if you never let it out of your sight. But you don't want to douse your leather in water, so you'll need to take a gentler approach.



  1. Wipe a microfiber cloth over your leather bag.
  2. Lather up a dove bar to create suds.
  3. Dampen a cloth and use the suds to wipe down your bag.
  4. Wipe down with a slightly damp cloth to remove suds.
  5. Mix equal parts olive oil with white vinegar in a spray bottle.
  6. Mist the bag and work in with a cloth.
  7. Dry with a clean cloth.

Sanitize Your Suitcase With Rubbing Alcohol

At the airport, you never know who will handle your bag or exactly what they'll do with it. That's why sanitizing your luggage is so important. Rubbing alcohol makes sanitizing a breeze. Mix ¾ cups of rubbing alcohol and ¼ cup of water in a spray bottle. Now just mist it. You can also wipe down the handles with straight rubbing alcohol or a sanitizing wipe.

How to Clean the Interior of a Suitcase

If you've ever opened your suitcase to find the interior coated in mouthwash or conditioner, then you know that cleaning the inside of your suitcase is equally important.


  • Vacuum
  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Toothbrush
  • Bucket
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hair dryer


  1. Remove everything from your luggage.
  2. Vacuum it out.
  3. Spot treat stains.
  4. Mix water and dish soap to create a cleaner.
  5. Dip cloth and wring it out well.
  6. Wipe down every area, including pockets and buckles.
  7. Use baking soda on a wet toothbrush to get those hard-to-reach areas.
  8. Wipe everything down with a damp cloth.
  9. Spritz with straight rubbing alcohol to kill germs.
  10. Dry with a hair dryer to avoid moisture.

How to Clean Luggage Wheels

Your suitcase goes everywhere you go (hello, airport bathroom), and the wheels of your luggage roll through it ALL. To quickly clean them, just wipe down your luggage wheels and handles with a bit of rubbing alcohol to remove dirt, grime, and bacteria. If the wheels are sticky, they might need a deep cleaning.

Cleaning the rubber wheels of a travel suitcase with a yellow rag


  • Screwdriver (flathead or Phillips)
  • Bearing lubricant
  • Paper towel
  • Dish soap
  • Toothbrush


  1. Locate and unscrew the wheels.
  2. Pop out the bearings. (They come out really easy.)
  3. Wipe down the bearings with a dry paper towel. (No water near bearings.)
  4. Add bearing lubricant.
  5. Wash the actual plastic wheels with soap and water.
  6. Use a toothbrush to attack built-up grime.
  7. Dry completely.
  8. Pop the bearing back in and screw wheels back on.

Should You Dry Clean Suitcases?

Do you have a Louis Vuitton suitcase? High-end luggage might be something you don't want to handle at home. In that case, take it to a dry cleaner. You can also take any luggage you aren't sure how to clean to a professional.

How to Clean Your Suitcase at Home

You know it's important to wash your clothes immediately when coming home from a trip, but did you realize it's just as important to wash your luggage? From bed bugs to viruses, there's a lot of stuff creeping around out in the world that you just don't want to deal with. Cleaning and sanitizing your luggage after every trip keep all that stuff at bay. And, your bags will smell fresh for your next trip.

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How to Clean Your Luggage Inside & Out