This article will show you how to keep your luxury luggage looking like new, from getting rid of scuffs and marks, to cleaning the fuzzy fabric interior.

Painstakingly designed using superior craftsmanship and pioneering technologies, luxury luggage is engineered to last for as long as possible. But what about their elegant aesthetics? Will silver aluminium shells and vegetable-tanned Tuscan leather accents retain their beauty after travelling to the ends of the earth and back?

We’ve got good news. With a little bit of love and care between your travels, even the most restless wanderers can keep their cherished luggage pieces in mint condition. Read our complete guide on how to clean luggage made from all types of materials.

Row of coloured Rimowa SuitcasesImage credit: Rimowa

Polycarbonate and Aluminium

Do you like your suitcases high-tech and hard-side? Luggage made from materials such as polycarbonate and aluminium are incredibly durable and tough, but they are susceptible to scratches, dullness and cracks. A little tender loving care, however, will keep them looking spick and span for years to come.

Cleaning and Care

Harsh cleaning agents that contain abrasives should be avoided at all cost, so put down that nail polish remover and step away from your suitcase! These nasties fluids may cause damage to that lovely gleaming surface.

So how do you clean luggage made from polycarbonate or aluminium?:

  • Apply a solution of warm water and mild soap to the shell with a soft sponge or soft washcloth
  • Wash the entire shell and not just the dirty areas (otherwise you may get darker patches)
  • Finish off by wiping the surface with a damp sponge to get rid of soap residue, followed by a dry cloth to avoid water stains

Own a Rimowa suitcase? Apparently, a simple dab of the old H2o is all that’s needed to maintain its metallic sheen. For more information on how to care for your Rimowa click here.

Marks and Scuffs

But what if your precious Classic Flight gets knocked about and scuffed? Firstly, embrace the imperfections! A battered, silver aluminium suitcase denotes a well-heeled and well-travelled adventurer. It’s these rustic travel scars that give your luggage character and soul.

Silver Stickered Silver Metal Suitcase
Image credit: Rimowa

However, if you’d rather your hard-side grow old gracefully over a long period of time, you can minimise the chips and scrapes with a little scrub and buff:

  • Take a soft cloth doused in spot remover or light alcohol and gently rub the scuff mark
  • Avoid cleaning agents that include acetone, ammonia, benzene, chloroform, and phenol-based compounds – these will damage the surface and leave a sticky residue
  • Only treat the scuffed area and not the entire shell

Why not check with your luggage brand to see if they offer any specific cleaning or repair kits? The Rimowa Polish & Repair Paste, for example, can be used on all colours and treats fine scratches or dull spots.

Finishing Touches

Grazes and scrapes may add to the charm of your hard-side case, but a lacklustre sheen leaves much to be desired. Polycarbonate pioneers Samsonite use 100% makrolon polycarbonate in many of their designs, including the feather-light Neopulse, so they know a thing or two about looking after this premium material. The brand suggests using any good silicone-base automobile or furniture polish to rejuvenate the polycarbonate, and return it to its former glory.

Briggs Riley Baseline Range ShotImage credit: Briggs & Riley

Ballistic Nylon/Polyester

Want to invest in a luxurious suitcase but worried about the damage it may incur on your globetrotting adventures? Problem solved - simply choose a ballistic nylon or polyester design. These fantastic fabrications are designed to withstand the perils of travel, whilst staying chic, lightweight and oh so easy to clean.

Cleaning and Care

Although this type of luggage is fairly simple to maintain, please don’t whack it in the attic as soon as your travels are over. Soft-side luggage can be a dust magnet, therefore you must cover it up when not in use. High-end luggage designs tend to be accompanied by a soft storage bag - sling this over your coveted case and allow it to safely hibernate between excursions.

Too late for the dust bag? Never mind. Like we said, these cases are a breeze to clean:

  • Take a soft-bristled nylon brush or soft damp nylon cloth dipped in warm water
  • Clean all of your case - not just the dirt marks (to avoid leaving water stains)
  • Allow the bag to completely dry in a shaded area (away from sunlight)

Treating Stains

Ballistic nylon is designed to repel stains and dirt, but if you’re a frequent long-hauler we’re guessing your luggage has picked up a few stubborn stains on the way. Briggs & Riley are experts in smart ballistic nylon luggage, and they suggest using a mild laundry detergent and warm water to spot clean the stain.

Still won’t budge? Any upholstery or clothes cleaner that’s specifically meant for nylon or polyester fabrics should eradicate the stain when rubbed. If you decide to take this approach, stay well away from any embellishments or hardware, such as metallic zips and leather accents, as the cleaner may tarnish them.

Stay Fuzz Free

Soft-side materials draw lint, hair, fur and all sorts of fluffy materials to them like a moth to a flame. If you’ve been naughty and left your luggage sans dust bag, give it the once over with a lint brush roller or carpet brush to return it to its neat and smooth best.

Man standing beside leather suitcase on wheelsImage Credit: Jekyll & Hide

Leather

What’s more luxurious than exploring the world with a beautifully rustic and authentically crafted leather bag? The most gorgeous type of leather luggage is designed to age exquisitely, with wear and tear only enhancing the charm. Still, there are a few tips you can adhere to if you want to retain the splendour of this natural material.

Cleaning and Care

Well-travelled leather bags may be chic, but there’s no harm in sprucing them up every so often. If you feel like your luggage needs a little TLC, there’s no need to take it to a professional leather cleaner. A non-petroleum based high-quality leather cleaner is the easiest way to clean luggage, just make sure it doesn’t contain bleach. Then:

  • Apply the cleaner to a damp cloth and work a section of the bag at a time
  • Don’t drench the leather with solution or clean the bag all at once
  • After each section, wipe with a dry cloth to remove any residue

Stain Removal

Oops… you got a little too merry drinking the complimentary Dom Perignon in the airline lounge and half of it’s ended up on your full-grain leather carry-on. If you ACT FAST with food and drink stains your bag will be saved. Make a beeline to the nearest restroom, dampen a paper towel and wipe away the offending stain.  

OK, so what happens when you’ve returned home and discovered oil spray marks all over your lovely leather luggage? Maybe you went a bit too trigger happy with that Hawaiian Tropic Dry Oil Spray in the hotel room, or took a tapas trail through Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter before jumping on your return flight. Whatever, it doesn’t matter how the spillages happened, all that matters is removing them, quick. Here’s how to say Adios to that nasty oil stain:

  • Take a dry cloth and remove any residual dirt
  • Grab some corn flour, talcum powder, or any other type of absorbent powder, and apply it to the stain to draw out the oil
  • Leave the powder on overnight, or as long as possible
  • Come morning, brush off the powder gently with an old toothbrush and ta-dah! Your leather should be spotless

Condition

The folks at leather luggage mecca Jekyll & Hide advise conditioning their bags three or four times a year to keep the leather supple and sumptuous. Not only does leather conditioner return your leather to its soft buttery best, but it also helps to clean luggage, protect against potential stains and revive that long-lost lustrous shine. We personally love Leather Honey - Amazon’s best selling leather conditioner, this miracle solution is non-toxic, long-lasting and works on all types of leather, new and old. Perfect for bringing your leather travel gear back to life!

 

Brics Baseline Range
Image credit: Bric’s

Microsuede

We admit it, bags made from the finest suede are divine. Alas, this exquisite material is simply not practical for gallivanting across the globe with. This is where microsuede comes in. Sumptuous, smart and soft to touch, this incredible material enjoys all the fineries of natural suede whilst also being water-resistant, pet-friendly, stain-proof and super easy to clean. Here’s how to look after it.

Care Instructions

Really simple. To keep the material looking plush give it a quick once-over with a lint brush to spruce up the nap and lustre and remove any dust or animal hairs. See? We told you it was ridiculously easy.

Stain Removal   

We looked to Italian luggage brand Bric’s for advice on stain removal. The brand offers a selection of velvety microsuede luggage in its Life collection. Here’s what they said:

  • Simple stains can easily be eradicated by rubbing them with a soft bristled brush
  • Greasy and stubborn stains can be cleaned with a sponge soaked with water and diluted neutral soap
  • If you use water on your stains dab with a dry cloth and leave the case to air

Avoid

  • Hard brushing (soft bristles only)
  • Immersing your luggage in water
  • Dry cleaning
  • Benzene or alcohol-based products

Wow, who knew microsuede could be so effortless to maintain!

 

We hope, that with all this handy cleaning information, you now feel confident about looking after ANY piece of luxury luggage that you may own, whatever the material!
And if you’re looking for a new travel companion, Global Luggage has a spectacular collection of leather, polycarbonate, aluminium, ballistic nylon and microsuede pieces, designed to make your world travels that touch more elegant. Explore our collection
here, and find your next stylish travel partner today.