How to Remove Bad Smells from Suitcase


Are you sick of opening your suitcase and getting hit in the face by bad smells? Or perhaps you just pulled a suitcase from storage and it adopted a musky smell. Either way, you can remove bad smells from a suitcase with a few cleaning solutions and home remedies. No ritual required.

How to Remove Bad Smells From Suitcase

1. Pick an Odor-Absorbing Material

There’s all kinds of different odor-absorbing material that you can pick up, some of which is probably already in your cabinets at home. The options available are fairly close to one another as far as efficiency goes, but there is a clear winner. However, odor-absorbing material is only one piece of the puzzle and it’s going to take a combined effort of odor killing and giving your suitcase a good clean.

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Here are your choices:

  • Baking soda
  • Coffee grounds
  • Active Charcoal

Out of the three, baking soda is arguably the best. Chances are you have some in your refrigerator at this very moment, trapping odors in your fridge and removing any bad smells. As far as odor-absorbing materials go, baking soda is a clear winner. With that said, regardless of the material you use, you’re going to compound the odor killing effect with distilled white vinegar (View on Amazon). Don’t use apple vinegar as it tends to stain material.

2. Clean Your Suitcase

Now it’s time to clean your suitcase. Be very thorough with your cleaning like vacuuming the inside for crumbs, perhaps use a lint roller to pick up any dirt or crumbs that the vacuum couldn’t reach. Every inch of your suitcase should be cleaned.

What kind of lining does your suitcase have? Because the next step is to wipe down the inside if possible. Leather lined suitcases should avoid being touched by alcohol as the alcohol can dry the leather and that leads to cracking. For the safest bet, mixed warm water with a very small drop of dish detergent. Wet a microfiber rag and wringe it out; it shouldn’t be soaking wet. Afterwards, dry it with a towel and let it sit open for a day or two.

3. Removing Bad Smells

Your suitcase is now cleaned, which means it’s ready to smell good again. This is where your choice of odor-absorbing material finally comes into play. You can use all the ones listed, but a single material will do just fine. All you need to do now is fill the suitcase about halfway, close the suitcase tight and leave it in a dry, cool area for a few days.

After a few days you can vacuum out the material, then it’s on to the white vinegar solution.

4. Killing Bad Smell Further

To double down on odor-causing smells, you should use a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water. White vinegar targets acidic odors, traps them, and makes them disappear. It’s why it’s so good at dispelling bad smells, especially from suitcases. Baking soda works in a similar fashion by way of balancing on pH levels.

Mix a solution of white vinegar with water. There should be more water than vinegar. If you have a spray bottle, even better! Regardless of what you use, it should be about two-thirds water and one-third white vinegar. Spray the inside of the suitcase, but don’t soak it, and leave it open until the mixture dries. Alternatively, lemon juice can take the place of white vinegar if you hate the smell of vinegar.

5. Freshening Up Your Suitcase

Now that you’ve largely eliminated the odor, if not removed it entirely, you can work towards improving the overall smell. It might smell like nothing, but you can change that with a few tricks.

The first trick is dryer sheets. These lovely smelling sheets are what gives your clothes a great smell when taken out of the dryer. But the dryer isn’t the only place for them. You can stick a dryer sheet into your briefcase and it will adopt a portion of the smell. However, to prevent the briefcase from adopting a strong fragrance, use dryer sheets that dial back on the strength of smell.

Alternatively, you can give your suitcase a lemon and citrus smell by sitting a bowl of lemon juice and orange peels, closing the suitcase and leaving it overnight.

Bottom Line

As you may have realized, removing bad smells from a suitcase is relatively easy, although it can be tedious considering the process takes a few days. However, it’s all worth it because in the end it goes back to smelling like a regular old suitcase, not a harbinger of the end times.