It is everyone's worst nightmare: Here’s how to clean a fabric suitcase without losing your mind.
In our experience, cleaning fabric suitcases is something akin to sending a Navy SEAL unit into foreign territory, especially when it involves copious amounts of gel, liquids and soap residue that have magically decided to host itself all over your belongings.
There’s a reason we love hard-sided luggage — they are remarkably easy to clean and/or disinfect. Besides, there are less nooks for creepy crawlies to hide out in.
Before embarking on one of the most cumbersome experiences of your life (this will eat up at least a few hours), allot at least 48 hours for the suitcase to completely dry.
(This is the worst when it happens mid-trip, and not on the way home, when you actually have time to deal with it.)
Remove everything, wipe down the affected items
This is the most annoying part of the process. Ideally, there's a microfiber cloth on hand to wipe down each item.
If you’re in a hotel room, those extra towels will suddenly become your new best friend. Lay down a dry, flat towel in the bathroom in an area where it is unlikely to get wet. Rinse each item under the sink, and then wipe dry.
Repeat this, for everything, until it is finished.
Clean it in the shower stall
Suitcases are big things. Unless you have the kitchen sink the size of Niagara Falls, the shower is probably the best place for embarking on this task.
Be prepared to get wet.
If you're fans of watching YouTube videos, or watching people successfully scrub a suitcase, this chick has got you.
Use the right kind of cleaning solution
Though you can use a sponge, the best tools are probably a good sponge and a good soap solution, like Dawn or Dr. Bronner's diluted with pure water.
The soapier and sudsier, the better, and don't be afraid to ask the front desk if they have some type of sponge or liquid soap available.
In our opinion, you can't go wrong with basic soap and water: We're fans of Dr. Bronner's over here. Harsh chemicals like alcohol and hydrogen peroxide will likely just discolor the pigmentation on the fabric.
Let the suitcase dry in the shower stall for at least a few hours, like at least six hours, to drain the initial run-off. After that, lay at least two towels where you plan to dry the suitcase—ideally in a more dry environment where there is more open circulation—and let the suitcase dry there.
For instance, if the hotel room has a balcony, this is a great time to take advantage of that and natural sunlight if it's not raining. The bathroom will have a more humid environment, so this is less ideal.