Can Suitcases Be Dry Cleaned?

People love traveling and going to different places, which also means hauling their suitcases everywhere. You'll want to clean your suitcase at some point, but you might wonder if you can have it dry cleaned rather than doing it yourself. Don't worry; we researched it for you so you won't have to.

Yes, you can have your suitcase dry cleaned. However, it would be best to check with your dry cleaning if they provide that service and how much it would cost, if ever. On average, you might be spending between $30-$70.

Of course, the cost might vary, so it depends on whether you want to spend money on dry cleaning your luggage or not. To help you in your decision, read further to learn more about dry cleaning your luggage and more.

A two stylish suitcases standing in empty airport hall, Can Suitcases Be Dry Cleaned?

Cleaning The Interior Portion Of Your Suitcase

Now you know that you can have your suitcase dry cleaned, but you'll also need to be mindful of how much you'll be spending on dry cleaning, which doesn't come cheap. If you can afford it and you don't have much time to spare for cleaning your luggage, by all means, do take advantage of the dry-cleaning service if you want to. Otherwise, you might want clean your luggage yourself.

The first thing to do is to clean the interior of your luggage. Since your clothes and other items will be placed here, keeping the interior as clean as possible is important. This is also the initial step you'll need to do before cleaning the outer surface of your luggage.

Different suitcases may need special treatment to avoid them getting damaged during cleaning. Here are the general steps for cleaning the interior of a suitcase:

  1. Remove everything inside your luggage that can be taken out. Unzip all the zippers and remove all the debris. You can do this by shaking your luggage to let the dirt fall off or vacuuming it.
  2. Have clean water and wet a clean cloth with it. Wring out the excess water before wiping the interior of your luggage. For stubborn stains, have a mixture of one part laundry detergent and five parts water to clean it off. Use an old toothbrush to apply the mixture onto the dirty areas and brush it until the stain is removed or diminishes.
  3. After brushing out the dirt with the detergent mixture, you'll need to wipe it off using warm water and a soft cloth. Don't forget to wring out the excess moisture off the cloth before wiping luggage with it.

Cleaning The Exterior Portion Of Your Suitcase

Cleaning travel suitcase luggage with sanitizer spray

Traveling around means your suitcase will be lugged around in different conditions. It can carry dirt or have sustained stains from your travels that need to be cleaned before your next excursion.

As mentioned, you can have your luggage dry cleaned by professionals. Soft-shelled luggage would benefit most from this as these types would need more than a simple wipe down of its surface, unlike hard-shelled ones.

Depending on what type of material your luggage has, here are the steps for cleaning the external portion of your luggage after emptying the contents.

Hard-shelled Luggage

Woman preparing the hard-shell suitcase for a trip

Cleaning a hard-sided suitcase should be fairly easy as its exterior can be made with materials like polycarbonate, aluminum, ABS, and polypropylene. That means it's more durable in keeping your items inside the luggage dry at all times and is sturdier.

  1. Start by grabbing a clean cloth and dipping it in dish soap mixed with water to clean your luggage. You can try it on a small area of your luggage to test it out. If it cleans the area nicely, you can wipe down the rest of the luggage with the cloth and formula.
  2. Once you're done, you can clean the soapy formula off your luggage with a separate cloth dipped in clean water.
  3. If you found some scratches on your luggage, you may want to use a mild abrasive such as toothpaste mixed with baking soda. Apply the mixture and rub the scratched area gently.
    You can also apply a nail polish remover to the surface. Whichever way you do it, try it out on a small surface of your luggage first to see if it doesn't damage the area before applying it to all scratched areas.
  4. Once you're done wiping your luggage and fixing the scratches, dry it off completely while keeping the zippers open.

Soft-shelled Luggage

Woman walking into a hotel entrance pulling a suitcase

Soft-shelled luggage can be made with different types of materials. Nylon and canvas are just some materials used to make soft-sided luggage. That means you can't just soak your luggage in water as it can destroy the material altogether.

  1. Have a foam upholstery cleaner and spray the entirety of the surface of your luggage. Rub the foamy product on the surface with a brush, especially on dirty areas, and leave it in for 5-10 minutes.
  2. After the allotted time frame, use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to vacuum the remaining foam off the luggage's surface. You may redo the previous step if patches are more stubborn than others.
  3. For the rubber parts of the luggage, simply have a water and dish soap formula, dip a clean washcloth into it, and wipe the cloth on the rubber parts.
  4. Finally, place your luggage under the sun in an open area with its zippers opened so it can dry off.

Leather Luggage

Leather luggage

Leather is a durable type of soft-shelled luggage that can last longer if maintained properly. That being said, it is also vulnerable to stains and damage from liquids which is why it has a different treatment from luggage made with other soft-shelled materials.

  1. Use a dry cloth to wipe the exterior of your leather luggage. This should help in taking out the dirt that has accumulated.
  2. Grab a leather cleaner, apply it to a soft cloth, and rub the cloth on the areas that have marks or visible stains. You can also use a leather sofa cleaner for this. For portions with scratches, get a special leather marker the same color as your leather luggage and apply it to the problematic area.
  3. Put in leather conditioner to finish off. This should also help remove marks and retain the original color of your leather luggage.

Hard-shelled or Soft-shelled Suitcase - Which One Is Better?

Choosing the right type of luggage for you depends on what kind of traveler you are. This can include how frequent you travel or how much you usually pack in a suitcase. Depending on those things, this can make your travel a lot easier or harder for you.

Hard-shelled Suitcase

The hard-sided type might be a better option for those who need a suitcase that can carry fragile objects. Since the hard shell offers a hollow space for your things, you can place your fragile objects in, secure them with bubble wrap, and not worry about them getting crushed under the weight of another suitcase. It also offers better security as it can't be simply slashed open, unlike a soft-shelled suitcase.

However, the downside of a hard-shelled suitcase is that it cannot expand. Expandable options exist, but a hard-sided suitcase isn't as flexible as soft-shelled luggage when adding items.

Soft-shelled Suitcase

If you're the type who wants to pack in a lot of items, even at the last minute, you'll want to go with a soft-shelled suitcase. Normally, this type of luggage is not only light but is also expandable. It also has pockets available if you need to include one more thing into your luggage but don't want to open it up again.

While it is usually lightweight, making it great for traveling, a soft-shell suitcase is also susceptible to being slashed open if it's not made of good quality. It's also not advised to use this type of luggage when bringing a fragile item as it might break during the transfer to the cargo area or even during transit.

Final Thoughts

You can have your suitcase dry cleaned, but give the professionals a call and check if they offer that service. Since dry cleaning can include restoring some parts of the luggage, removing scratches, and the like, expect to pay up to $70 for it.

Before you go, here are some articles that might help you:

How Many Suitcases For A Family Of 4?

What Is The Weight Limit For A Carry On Bag For United Airlines?