How To: Clean an Old Suitcase

My latest suitcase, $7.99 at GoodwillFor me, old suitcases have always had an instant feeling of nostalgia about them. They also have great style – much more style than any suitcase of today. Those suitcases all look the same. Aside from being travel accessories, old suitcases make for great storage of scrapbooking materials, fabric and other items, and when stacked, they create tables (hard, flat – non beveled suitcases are the ones you want). If you’re in the market for an old suitcase, I suggest you start haunting your local thrift stores. They crop up now and again, but sell quickly, so go often! Good size ones range in price from $12.99 to $7.99. Smaller suitcases and train cases usually cost $4.99. I use one of my train cases as a jewelry box and let it sit open on my vanity. If you are going to be using an old suitcase for actual travel (as I do) make sure you look inside. I don’t suggest purchasing one with stains or an extremely bad smell. However, if you merely want to use it to create an end table, condition inside is not of importance.

Tuff Stuff Gets the Job Done

Once you’ve found your suitcase, it is for sure going to be dirty, there’s going to be about 40 plus years of dirt and grime on it! So, how to get rid of that? First of all, buy yourself a can of Tuff Stuff, available at most stores in the automotive aisle, since it’s marketed as a car upholstery cleaner, but works on just about everything and it’s UH-MAZING! It’ll remove deep down dirt, as well as certain scuff marks. Next, get yourself a small scrub brush or toothbrush and a roll of paper towels. Take your suitcase outside (if you live in an apartment and really don’t have an outdoor area that will work for you, you can do it inside, just do it all upon a large towel and with the window open) and spray a section of it with Tuff Stuff (it’ll foam up once on the surface), and then take your scrub brush to it, I find circular motions, followed by up and down motions work best. Once scrubbed, wipe the area with a paper towel, and repeat the process on each side. Don’t mind hardware, Tuff Stuff won’t do anything to it. Once done, take a damp rag to the outside of the suitcase. If you find there is still dirt lifting out, repeat the Tuff Stuff process.

Stylish StorageOnce cleaned on the outside, open your suitcase and gently spray Lysol inside – do not saturate the inside. In most cases Lysol will not leave any stain or mark that it was there, and will lightly clean the inside and let your suitcase air out for awhile outside. I have known people to purchase odor remover products for shoes and used them in order to rid the suitcase of that musty smell.  You can also pour baking soda into a dish or tray and set it inside the suitcase.  The baking soda will act like an odor absorber. Using an old suitcase as your traveling suitcase is really helpful because your suitcase will stand out and be easier to find when you travel. Now you’re set to either travel in style or to have an innovative end table that also stores a lot!

2 thoughts on “How To: Clean an Old Suitcase

  1. I used to live in some crappy track housing (the kind that looks like they just stamped it out of cardbord). The place had no closet space whatsoever so I went to the Salvation Army and bought a couple suitcases and a travel trunk and used them as closets/seating!

  2. My mom came home from a garage sale with this really cool bright yelow old suitcases! unfortunately they had been unused for awhile and were filthy!today i was freaking out because camp is in a week! Thank you so much for this artic;e because now i can go to camp with my unique luggage! 🙂

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