Chrystal asked: I was given a few pieces of hard luggage from the 60s from my Grandma. They’re so old and gross. I don’t how to restore them to even half their former glory! Because they’re vintage, I’d like a cleaning process that won’t damage them. They smell very musky and “dank” and have a few stains on the fabric inside. Any help would be extremely appreciated.
Because luggage can vary so much piece by piece, it’s best to use these instructions as a general guideline. Some steps may not be appropriate to your specific luggage, so proceed with caution and always use common sense.
You Will Need:
- Vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachment
- White vinegar
- Paper towels
- Clean spray bottle
- Damp sponge
- Stain remover towelettes
- Fabric refresher (optional)
Steps to Remove the Stain:
- Use a vacuum with an upholstery or brush attachment (or a handheld vacuum) to remove any loose dust or debris from the luggage.
- Wipe hard surfaces down with a paper towel that is damp with white vinegar. Repeat this until the surface is clean, but be careful. If the hard exterior flakes, crumbles, or loses color, you may have to have it refinished instead.
- To clean a fabric lined interior, fill a clean spray bottle with a 50-50 mixture of cool water and white vinegar.
- Open the luggage and spray, but do not soak, the interior. Wait 5-10 minutes before continuing.
- Next, use a damp sponge to wipe away any mold, mildew or dirt. You may need to repeat steps 3-5 several times to clean the piece completely. Rinse the sponge frequently to avoid spreading the dirt.
- Allow the luggage to dry in the open position a sunny location.
- Next, tackle any remaining stains with an instant stain-removing towelette. Check the labels and be sure to choose one safe for colors. Rub them gently over the surfaces.
- Allow the piece to dry completely.
- An optional step is to complete the cleaning with a fabric refresher. This will help eliminate any remaining odors that may be present from storing.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Bleach (color safe if fabric is not white) can be used to clean interior lining, but you should do so only with extreme caution as bleach can weaken fabrics and damage stitching, especially those of the vintage variety already showing their age. Use a weak solution of one part bleach with 10-15 parts water.
- Avoid adding too much moisture to the luggage during any part of the cleaning process. It can be difficult to dry and may cause damage and/or exacerbate your problem.
- White vinegar is an excellent cleaner and deodorizer and can be used full strength, but should be diluted for fragile, weak or damaged fabrics.
- The vinegar smell will dissipate as the luggage dries. Do not close the luggage until it’s completely dry to avoid trapping the scent. Any moisture left in the piece will lead to future mold and mildew growth.
- To maintain a fresh scent, store with a fabric softener dryer sheet inside the closed suitcase. This will keep it smelling fresh.