by Staff Writer
Travel can be rough on hard luggage, but that doesn't mean you can't keep yours looking new. Maintaining hard luggage is a simple process that will keep your suitcases looking fresh and clean. Here's what you need to know.
Empty the luggage. Take everything out of your suitcases, including anything in pockets and compartments. Leave the luggage open to air out for a few hours. This will help reduce any odors that may have developed.
Clean the inside. Loosen any dust and dirt by using a stiff brush or broom to brush the surfaces of the luggage. Vacuum the inside with the dusting or upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Remember to empty the small pockets and compartments before vacuuming them to avoid sucking up lost earrings or missing cuff links. If your luggage is lined with plastic, wipe it down with a damp cloth before vacuuming. If anything has spilled in your suitcase, wipe it off with a damp rag. Depending on how dirty your suitcase is, this may be all the cleaning you need to do.
Clean removable parts. Not all suitcases have removable pockets or liners. If yours does, remove any loose parts or liners and wash them with mild soap and warm water. Reshape them and allow them to air-dry before returning them to their proper places.
Clean the outside. You can clean the outside of the luggage with mild soap and warm water. Wet a washcloth and test in an inconspicuous spot of the luggage, such as the bottom by the wheels. If the cleaner or soap you chose appears to work, wipe down the entire outside surface and scrub out any spills or sticky spots, changing washcloths as necessary. After wiping down the whole outside with the cleaner, use another moist cloth to remove any soap residue. Another option for cleaning hard-sided luggage is to use a spray cleaner; spray the cleaner on the surface of the luggage, wipe it off with a cloth, and use a moist cloth to remove residue. Always allow your luggage to dry thoroughly.
Remove scuffs and marks. Cleaning erasers, mild abrasives, or even toothpaste can remove scuffs and scratches from hard luggage. Always test a small area first to be sure the cleaner is appropriate for the surface. Wipe the surface with a damp cloth again to remove residue.
Store it properly. A good place to store luggage is in a closet, an attic, or under the bed. Wherever you store it, cover it loosely to keep off dust. Leave a few zippers open to allow it to breathe. To keep your luggage smelling nice for the next time you pull it out, you can put a dryer sheet, a bar of soap, or a bag of cedar chips in it. Cedar's natural fragrance also discourages insects. If you would prefer no scent, use charcoal pouches, newspaper, or clean kitty litter to absorb odors and moisture.