Removing Odors From a Suitcase

Suitcases spend a lot of time stored away until they are needed for your next trip. Sometimes the storage conditions are perfect for the growth mold, mildew, and bacteria. This is a guide about removing odors from a suitcase.
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July 15, 2009 Flag
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I just got a suitcase from a second hand store and I cannot remove the nasty smell. It smells like old vomit or moldy milk. How can I get rid of the smell?

By booboo kitty from Jacksonville, FL

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July 13, 20080 found this helpful
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Our old house had wood heat, everything always smelled like smoke including our luggage, which then got put in storage when we moved to a smaller house. I just took it out for a vacation, sprayed the inside with a vinegar/water mix and closed them back up for two days. They smelled fine for us to pack for this trip and our clothes were fine on arrival.

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July 31, 20080 found this helpful
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Try Febreze.

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December 2, 20080 found this helpful
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Definitely. I use FRIDGE IT activated carbon odor absorbers in my luggage and storage bins. They are unscented and work great to eliminate odors. I just put one or two in each suitcase to keep "old" smell out. Works like a charm. I get these right on line at www.innofresh.com. Easy to order and they ship really quickly.

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January 9, 20090 found this helpful
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I have been using a product called BioWorld Odor Neutralizer that has worked well for all odors. It is very strong and I haven't found an odor that it hasn't taken care of yet!

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Anonymous Flag
July 18, 20090 found this helpful
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I've heard clay kitty litter absorbs odors really well so it might be worth the try to get a small bag of it, dump the litter in, close it up for a few days and then dump it out. Of course, wipe the inside of the case well to remove the litter dust. If it still needs a bit of freshener, by all means use Febreeze but don't close the lid until the Febreeze has completely dried.

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July 20, 20090 found this helpful
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I would wash this suitcase out first, and then try all the different odor absorbers. It may be that something has been spilled in the inside in the past, and never suitably and thoroughly cleaned. Leaving it in the sun to air out after washing would be good too.

Things don't get a sour milk or vomit smell from being stored in musty garages or basements. Something has been spilled in that suitcase to make that smell.

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July 19, 20090 found this helpful

Charcoal! Buy some charcoal that is used in BBQ's, just put some in the suitcase and close, it will absorb the odor.

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July 19, 20090 found this helpful

I saw this posted for a stinky refrigerator awhile back and feel it should work for your suitcase. Get a bag of plain charcoal (not the self-lighting kind.) Tear open the package and put it in the suitcase. Close the suitcase and let set. I can't recall how long the original poster said it should take, but I think it was 24-48 hours minimum.

Another possibility is baking soda. Don't dump it out into the suitcase, but just open the box (if you buy the kind you usually set in the fridge, they have tabs you can open) and let it set in the suitcase a week or more. I sure hope this helps!

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July 20, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks. I will try both and we will see if that works. I am expected to be in Tampa next week, and I hope I can get the smell out again. Thanks for your support.

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Anonymous Flag
July 20, 20090 found this helpful

Adding a post about a suitcase situation that I had completely forgotten about. A couple decades ago I lent a leather duffle type suitcase to an employee for her and significant others vacation. When it was given back it reeked :-o Turns out that they had a bit too much fun drinking and instead of putting their dirty clothes (with vomit on them) in a plastic bag they just put them loose in my bag :-o I washed the inside as well as could with a rag soaked in vinegar and that made me feel like the germs were at least gone but it still stunk :-( Since it was a soft duffle I turned it inside out, put it in the dryer with a whole box of dryer sheets on low heat for awhile and, blessedly, that did the trick. Needless to say, I never loan out my suitcases anymore ;-)

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Anonymous Flag
January 29, 20160 found this helpful

January 27, 2011 Flag
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How do you get rid of the musty smell in luggage?

By Sondra from FL

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October 5, 20070 found this helpful
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Put a few pieces of chalk or charcoal (not the kind with lighter fluid in it) in the case, close it up for a few days, the odor should be gone after. You can also try a piece of potato or apple. I've never used those but I have heard it works.

Good luck!

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January 29, 20110 found this helpful
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Try putting Fabric Softner sheets in suitcase and closing it up for a few days.

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January 31, 20110 found this helpful
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Try soaking a couple of crumpled up pieces of newspaper in regular vinegar, put them inside and close it up for a few days. It worked for me. Good luck. Regards, lori

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February 1, 20110 found this helpful
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Other things that are good for odors are baking soda and coffee grounds. Set a dish of one or the other, or both inside the suitcase and leave for a few days. You might also try one of those silica gel packs that comes with purchased items to remove moisture.

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June 1, 20110 found this helpful
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I just handled the problem with musical instrument cases, which are specialized luggage. Leave them open and spray daily with a few drops of tree tea oil in warm water. It's taken two weeks or so but the rank mold odor is almost completely gone.

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January 27, 20110 found this helpful

I like Lysol Disinfectant in the brown bottle to help in removing stale odor. Just put in with water and wipe the interior well. Leave open to dry and if the odor is still pungent, then sprinkle some baking soda in it and close it up for a few days. Check it again and if the odor is still prevalent, then seek a professional.

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Anonymous Flag
January 28, 20110 found this helpful

You can line the bottom and sides of the luggage with a large cloth and place charcoal (non-fluid that lights it kind) in it. Close it up and leave it be for a few days and the charcoal will soak up the odor. The best part is that you can still use the charcoal on the barby. ;-)

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January 29, 20110 found this helpful

Open one end of a box of antibacterial soap, like Irish Spring or Dial. Leave the hard soap in the box and put it in the suitcase and close it up for a week or so. This works well. To keep the suitcase smelling fresh, just put the open ended box with the soap in it back in your suitcase after your trip.

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September 13, 20160 found this helpful

FYI...Tried fabric softener sheets for the mold smell in old luggage and it didn't work. I think it will have to be something that pulls the odor out and doesn't just cover it up.

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