Here’s a super quick and easy how-to for my fellow vintage luggage lovers out there. I hope you enjoy it! (This tutorial covers how to spruce up plastic-exterior luggage. Leather luggage is another beast, to be tackled at another time.)
Step 1: Find a piece of vintage luggage you love. It’s hard to pass through any thrift store’s luggage section without peeping a piece or two that’s worthy of some tender love and care.
I found this 1970s-era Samsonite train case at the bottom of a box of $1 luggage at Burnsville’s Salvation Army, with the original tray and everything. Don’t you love the milky white color?
Step 2: Step outside, open your suitcase and shake that sucker out. If it’s really dusty or dirty inside, break out your vacuum and suck the gunk out with the hose attachment.
Step 3: Assemble your cleaning supplies: Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, window cleaner (J.R. Watkins’ Window Cleaner smells so good), paper towels or rags.
Step 4: Wet your magical eraser and give it a good squeeze. Get to work on scrubbing away the scuffs, stains and other blemishes that old luggage is bound to be blessed with. Once you’ve given your piece a good working over, dry it off with a clean rag.
If you’re sprucing up a train case, clean the interior mirror with glass cleaner. I’m partial to J.R. Watkin’s Window Cleaner—it smells divine. Window cleaner also works well on shining up the hardware.
Step 5: Wipe down interior with clean, damp rag or paper towel. Dry!
Step 6: Give the inside a little sniff test. Smells okay? Skip to step 8. Smells like grandma’s attic? Go to step 7.
Step 7: Freshening up the scent of the interior is easy. Get together baking soda, some lavender essential oil and a small dish.
Mix a couple tablespoons of baking soda with a few drops of lavender essential oil in the dish. Place the mixture in your cleaned out luggage and close it in there.
Leave it shut for a day or two, and the grandma’s attic odor should have disappeared. I’ve also read you can use a car air-freshener in the same manner, but I usually hate the way those stink smell, so I prefer to go the all-natural route.
Step 8: Enjoy your clean & fresh vintage luggage! What you do with it is up to you.
Or my favorite use: Pack it full & hit the road.