Case of the Dusty Suitcases

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Dear Home Ec 101:

I recently purchased some used (softside, Samsonite) luggage, which it like new, but has apparently been stored in a closet.  It is dusty and I’d like to know the best way to clean it.

~ It’s in the Bag

Heather says:

I checked the manufacturer’s website and mild soap and water are recommended for routine cleaning while products such as Spray and Wash may be used for spots and stains.

If the luggage is filthy you may want to try a foam cleaner such as the type used for car upholstery.  You can typically find this in the automotive section.

For odors spray with a weak vinegar solution but be sure to allow the luggage to dry thoroughly, as in several days, before storing.  If you don’t let it dry thoroughly you’ll need to repeat this step and follow the next, as well.  Mildew funk will not endear you to your travelling companions.

Finally, if there is an odor in the suitcase, try using activated charcoal to adsorb the odor.

Good luck and happy trails.

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2 thoughts on “Case of the Dusty Suitcases”

  1. Alright, now that I’m a pseudo-expert on bedbugs, I’d like to mention that our pest guys told us to NEVER pick up used furniture off the street. As we live in NYC this used to be the best way to get free furniture! But now with the rising bedbug epidemic it’s more likely than not that used furniture could be infested.

    One of the other common ways to spread bedbugs is through luggage. That’s why in hotels they have luggage racks- to get your luggage off the floor and hopefully away from the bedbugs.

    Now HOPEFULLY anyone donating used items to thrift stores and such is aware enough to not donate anything that might be infested with bedbugs… but since this is a relatively new problem (new within the past 50 years anyway) a lot of people don’t know what to look for or even if they are infested.

    So I would take in any used furniture and luggage only if they’d be carefully inspected by someone who knows what to look for, and maybe spray them down with some serious pesticides just in case.

    Our pest guys told us bedbug cases are exponentially rising in NYC, and mom who works for an industrial laundry place in Hawaii says they are now having to make new regulations for bedbug infested bedding. So it’s a nation-wide problem on the rise.

    Protect yourself before it happens to you! 😛

  2. I was given a really old suitcase that looks stunning, but that has contained a stamp collection and been stored in a basement for more than 30 years. It smells like mildew a lot! do you think the activated charcoal would remove the odor?

    and how do I clean the interior? I’m not sure I will ever store clothes in it, but maybe papers and memorabilia. Will it be safe for the papers?

    Thank you.


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