There is a ton of information about how to pack for a trip, but very little about unpacking for a trip. Yes, it’s easier, but there are steps you’re probably missing that will protect your clothes for the next trip and prolong the life of your luggage.
Whether you’re Road Tripping or Flying, your luggage goes through a lot. It’s not a bad thing- it’s a mark of truly living. Like you, luggage needs a little TLC when it gets home. We’ve got some practical tips for keeping your luggage in tip top condition, which will make packing for the next trip so much easier and nicer.
Don't Wait to Unpack
Before we even get started, possibly our most important tip is to unpack as soon as you can. I get it- if you’ve just come off a redeye or an all day flight then you’ve earned a nap, or at very least a shower before you unpack. But the last thing you need is to have your bag sitting in your room for a week, giving you the guilts. I leave my luggage in the entry when I get home, because I don’t like the idea of wheeling that mobile GermMobile through my house. If you share your home with others, it will also encourage you to get to it as soon as possible. And please- don’t be one of those people that unpacks on your bed. You’re better than that - keep your luggage AWAY from the fresh linens until it is pristine, and even then I always use a throw when I put any kind of suitcase or bag to pack on my bed.
PRO TIP: I use lightweight canvas or string bags to pack into categories (socks, underwear, pajamas, etc). On the way home, I use them to keep the clean stuff from mixing with my dirty clothes.
Fabric Duffle Bags
Duffles come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the material of your bag, you may want to lean towards laundering them in the machine or spot-cleaning, depending on what it’s made of. BTW: I bought my boys inexpensive army duffles and had a local shop screen print them with their initials for college. They love them and they don’t get mixed up with other people’s luggage!. These can be washed, but so far, I’ve only spot cleaned them with Garment Groom and they still look pretty good. If they are very dirty (or have something smelly inside) they have to go into the washing machine. Use an extra large net washing bag, a mild laundry soap in cooler temperature. Don’t tumble dry! If they still smell suspicious, put them in the dryer on the lowest heat setting and add a few fragranced dryer balls. That usually does the trick.
Leather Duffle Bags
If you’re brave enough (and have the budget) to rock the full leather duffle, then don’t waste time and reach for the leather cleaner first thing. I recently treated myself to a leather tote and matching weekender, and before I used it, I treated it with Leather Cleaner to protect it from scratches and water damage. I’ll never put it through the abuse of checked luggage, but I love it for a road trip or a carry-on situation!
Hard Side Luggage
Many pieces of hard luggage incorporate lighter weight plastic. I have my eye on a very chic set made from recycled plastic. This is where we break out the all-purpose cleaner. It’s good to use both outside and inside (don’t forget the wheels)! Work from the inside and wipe down any marks or grime that came home.
PRO TIP: If you have one of those annoying luggage tags that leave a sticky residue behind, spray it with Leather Cleaner and let it sit for a while. The natural oils will slowly dissolve the adhesive.
Once our bags have been emptied and cleaned out, I always give the interiors a final spritz of linen water before storing it. It infuses the whole bag with fresh scent, discourages moths, and keeps my clothes smelling great on my next adventure.