When traveling, your luggage can come into contact with many different things – airports, baggage holds, overhead bins, luggage carousels, hotels, trunks, etc. While your luggage is there, it may pick up unwanted hitchhikers, such as bacteria or viruses. To keep yourself healthy, you’ll want to clean and disinfect your luggage at least between every trip, and periodically during your trip. With the right tools, this is very easy to do!
The part of the suitcase most likely to have bacteria and viruses that can spread is the part that touches hands – the handles. The easiest way to disinfect these is to wash them thoroughly with soap and water, as soap breaks down the protein bonds on the outside of viruses and bacteria, rendering them inert. If you don’t have access to soap and water, you can also use a disinfectant spray or wipe, such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. You’ll want to extend the main handle, and then wipe the whole thing down, as well as any handles on the other sides of the suitcase. You’ll want to be sure that the surface stays wet for at least 30 seconds, but ideally three minutes, to make sure it’s truly disinfected.
You would think that as the part of the suitcase that it sits on, the bottom would be the dirtiest. While this may be true for actual dirt, the bottom doesn’t get touched as often, and so it’s actually less likely to have a lot of microbes. Your best bet here is to wash the dirt off with soap and water, however, if you are concerned, you can use the same disinfecting wipes to clean off the dirt and wheels that you used for the handles.
This part of the suitcase is the hardest to keep clean and germ-free. For aesthetics, you can vacuum out any crumbs or dust, and then wipe the inside with soap and water to get any marks off. To disinfect, you can spray the inside with a disinfectant spray such as Lysol To Go. Another option to keep the inside of your suitcase cleaner is to use some washable packing cubes, which can help keep your things separate from your suitcase, as well as nice and organized.
The Outside Hard-shell and Soft-shell Suitcases
Hard luggage is easy to clean – you can just wash it down with soap and water like you would a pet. You can also use a bleach solution to thoroughly disinfect it. You’ll want to make a solution of half a cup of regular bleach with a gallon of water, and either spray or sponge the solution onto the suitcase, making sure it stays wet for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, rinse it clean with water.
For soft luggage, you technically can use a similar method, but with less water. You may have better luck with disinfectant wipes, such as the Clorox ones mentioned above. Make sure to get the fabric nice and wet and then letting it dry so that the disinfecting chemicals have time to do their magic.
New friends are a wonderful part of traveling; however, you don’t want the type of friends that come home uninvited by hitching a ride on your luggage. Using these tips to keep your luggage microbe-free will help keep you healthy and happy, full of energy for every adventure that comes your way!