How to Naturally Clean a Suitcase

As many of you know if you follow me on Instagram, I have been on a couple of trips lately. One was for work but I also got to go on a couple of vacations with my husband and a super fun trip to Disneyland with family (including my nieces, who totally lost their minds there. Ha!).

I don’t know about you, but I have a couple of hardshell suitcases that are just small enough to be carry on size that I use on almost every trip I take. They get SUPER dirty when I travel, especially this pink one because I checked it on a recent trip and it got lost for a few days after.

Once the airline was able to find it and return it to me, the suitcase was covered with black scuff marks. Of course, I was just glad to have my luggage back, but I wasn’t thrilled with the look of my bag.

Maybe it would be more practical to only buy black or dark suitcases. But, I just don’t see me doing this. For one, I like to carry a cute suitcase—it’s fun! And cute colors like this soft pink one (from the Design Love Fest collection) are just too fun to pass up.

Plus, it seems like everyone has a black suitcase, so it makes it a little harder to identify when you’re needing to pick it up at the airport.

Here is what my pink suitcase looked like after a few trips this year. Pretty sad, right? But it’s not damaged and I still am totally in love with this piece of luggage, so I knew it was time to give it a little TLC and clean the outside well. I don’t clean my suitcases all the time, but I try to at least once a year or as needed.

I used to use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to for this, but lately I have been working to try and swap out not-so-green products for better, cleaner options. I am not perfect at this, but I try to incorporate better options and habits as it comes up. So I decided to try a few new things to clean my suitcase.

Here you can see a side-by-side of how clean I was able to get my suitcase after less than 10 minutes of cleaning. Wow! What a difference.

Now, you’ll notice that it’s not perfect. There are still a few deep scuffs that I couldn’t get out. So although my suitcase may not look brand new, it sure looks a LOT better than it did before.

The first thing I tried was just a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, but sadly this didn’t seem to be strong enough to make much difference.

What did work really was a mixture of Bon Ami with a drop of dish soap and enough water to make a thin paste. I then used the scrubby side of a dish sponge to gently scrub the surface of the suitcase. It’s a little bit of an arm workout as you will need to scrub if your suitcase is looking as scuffed up as mine did. But it seriously took less than 10 minutes to get the majority of the dirt and grime off. Then I just rubbed a wet cloth over the surface to remove any excess cleaner—and done! Super easy and effective, plus I already use Bon Ami for other things in my home, so I didn’t have to buy any additional special cleaners.

I got my Bon Ami, and the dish sponge I used, in my latest box from Grove Collaborative. You can read more about that and tips on how to swap natural cleaning products from Elsie here.

My suitcase may not look as perfect as the day I bought it, but it looks SO much better than it did. I am looking forward to many more trips over the years with this suitcase and I love that I can quickly and easily clean it anytime I need. I highly recommend this method for any plastic, hardshell suitcase, but I haven’t tested every surface in the world.

So if you’re concerned about how this product could react to yours, it’s always good to try a little spot first before scrubbing down the whole thing. Give your suitcase a little love before summer vacation season starts this year! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with the ACS for Desktop actions.
  • What an amazing and simple tip!
    María Eugenia

  • It’s really good way, Very clean, Before and after pic have huge difference. BTW nice color.

  • I bought a grey suitcase just for the reason! Deal with dirt! Going to clean mine! Thanks for the idea! I was using water and soap.

  • WOW what a difference, you did an incredible job on your suitcase and thank you for sharing with us your tips and tricks!

  • Whoa, I’m impressed! Need to wipe down my suitcase, too, so thank you for this!

  • Needed this, so THANK YOU! The same thing happened to my luggage recently, lost for a mere few hours and when I got it back, my bag looked like it had been to hell and back (what on earth happens in bag purgatory?!). I use Bon Ami to clean our tub, so I even have some on hand!xo

    • Yes, it’s like it got lost in a mud pit along the way or something. ha ha. Oh well, happy I got it back, sounds like you did too.

  • Thank you for the guide – what a big difference a little bit of cleaning does! And I love the colour of your suitcase! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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