How to clean a suitcase

In many cases all it takes is a little rain and dirt on the streets and your new suitcase gets very dirty. From dirt to scratches on the shell in this article we will discuss different methods of cleaning your suitcase.

Cleaning your hardshell suitcase

Hardshell suitcases are for many travelers the first choice due to their durability. Gladly, when it comes to cleaning your suitcase, hardshell suitcases are also easy to handle.

Removing dirt from your suitcase

To avoid any damage to the shell we recommend first trying to clean the suitcase with water first before trying other cleaning methods.

For removing dirt, the first choice would be to use warm water and a cotton cloth. We recommend not to use microfiber cloths as they pose the risk of leaving very fine scratches on the suitcase shell, especially on such with a shiny finish. Simply wipe off any dirt on the shell and pay attention to also clean the wheels of your suitcase to ensure that no debris got stuck between the wheel and the wheel housing which could lead to the wheel getting damaged. For cleaning the wheels, especially for single wheels, a pipe brush may be useful.

In case the dirt on your suitcase cannot be removed just with warm water you can add a little amount of detergent to the water and try again. For very tough stains on the shell, you may also try removing them with denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or ethyl alcohol. We recommend testing these on an unobtrusive part of the suitcase first.

Removing scratches

While the above-mentioned methods are great to remove any dirt or stains from your suitcase, scratches will likely remain. When it comes to scratches it depends on the finish of your suitcase if you can do anything. For suitcases with a shiny / mirror finish you may be able to polish scratches away unless they are very deep while for suitcases with an embossed, structured, or matte shell it is not possible to treat the scratches.

For suitcases with a shiny / mirror finish you can try using a car polish to remove the stains. As different types of polish have a different abrasiveness you should pay attention to select a polish with a low abrasiveness at first. Important: As a polish will remove the very top layer of the shell you should test the polish on an unobtrusive part of the suitcase first (e.g., at the bottom) as it could also damage the shell.

Cleaning your softshell suitcase

When it comes to cleaning your softshell suitcase, your options are much more limited compared to cleaning a hardshell suitcase. However, in most cases softshell suitcases also show less scratches compared to hardshell suitcases which will save you some work.

Cleaning your softshell suitcase, you should first try cleaning it only with water and using a cotton cloth. You should avoid rubbing the cloth too much on the fabric as it could cause the fabric to pill.

For more tough stains on the suitcase, you may first try simple detergent before trying denatured alcohol. Depending on the quality of the fabric the color may be more or less susceptible to the color being removed by these agents. Hence, we recommend testing the effect of detergent and alcohol an unobtrusive part of the suitcase first (e.g., at the bottom) to avoid any loss of color.


In most cases dirt on the suitcase shell can be removed most easily just with warm water and cotton cloth. For tougher stains you may try using detergent or even denatured alcohol after testing it on an unobtrusive part of the suitcase first. When it comes to removing scratches, you will have to live with the scratches in most cases as polishing these is only possible in very few cases.