For most travelers, a suitcase is a big investment. Keep your suitcase working hard for years to come by following these basic tips for proper suitcase storage.
1. Control humidity
One of the fastest ways to destroy an expensive suitcase is by improperly storing it in an area that is exposed to very high humidity. Both fabric-exterior suitcases and the type of luggage that has a plastic shell with fabric zippers can be damaged by mold and mildew if stored in areas with high humidity and a mold-friendly range of temperatures.
Thankfully, humidity is reasonably easy to control. If you have to store your luggage in a higher humidity area like a basement or attic in a humid part of the world, you can store your luggage near a full-size electric dehumidifier or invest in silica desiccant packets, which can be bought in bulk inexpensively. Silica desiccant packets draw ambient moisture out of the air, so when they are placed inside of a suitcase they can help keep humidity under control. One drawback of using silca packets, however, is that silica has a finite capacity to absorb moisture- which may quickly be overwhelmed in very humid luggage storage areas.
Most suitcases come with silica packets when they’re new. Although most shoppers immediately throw these packets away, it’s a good idea to start saving them when you purchase new luggage, jackets, or other fabric goods. Tossing a handful into your suitcase’s pocket or suitcase liner before you put the case in storage can effectively reduce the risk of mold or mildew damage to your suitcase.
2. Don’t smash your luggage in storage
Suitcases are designed to withstand pressure when loaded, but stacking your empty suitcase under heavy items in storage is a quick way to wear out hardware, fabric, zippers, and the internal structure of a suitcase that helps it stay rigid.
3. Clean before storage.
Although most suitcases are designed to hide dirt, luggage gets really dirty through the course of travel. Airport conveyor belts, shuttle cargo bays, and rolling over sidewalks and parking lots tend to build up dirt on the outside of both fabric and hard shell suitcases.
To give your suitcase a little bit of cleaning love before storage so you’ll be ready to pack and go, looking great, when you’re ready for your next trip, spend a little time cleaning your suitcase before putting it in storage. Here’s a quick guide to how to clean suitcases.
4. Store suitcases inside each other.
While this tip is more about space-saving than caring for your luggage for the sake of longevity, consider how you can use the interior of your suitcase productively. For folks who live in tiny homes or ultracompact studio apartments (as many *digital nomads do, in order to reduce residential housing costs while traveling), suitcases can be used as an effective storage compartment.
Whether it’s storing other luggage or handbags inside or specifically travel products, as described below, storing items inside your suitcase can be a smart use of available storage space.
5. Store travel products in your luggage.
When you get home from a tripe, you probably (eventually) unpack and find a home for everything that was inside of your suitcase. Smart travelers use their suitcases to store travel-specific equipment or products both on the road and off the road, in storage.
By storing travel essentials inside your suitcase, next time you pack for a trip you won’t have to chase down all the bits and bobbles that are essential on the road, like travel toothbrushes, toothbrush protectors, international power adapters, portable hotel door alarms, etc.
6. Use an odor neutralizer
Sometimes, even a fresh-smelling suitcase comes out of storage smelling a bit funky. The bacteria living in dirty clothes (which is often temporarily stored in luggage, especially for one bag travelers who may hand wash clothing every few days) may remain in a suitcase long after your trip has ended and you’ve unpacked your luggage. To help prevent your suitcase from marinating in dirty clothes-stink, give your suitcase a little TLC on the odor control front.
One option for controlling odors in luggage is to use a chemical treatment such as Febreeze fabric refresher spray, but I prefer the organic odor neutralizing of activated charcoal. Activated charcoal captures odors from the air and traps it in the “sticky” open pores of charcoal molecules. Activated charcoal comes in many forms, from pills to shoe deodorizing pillows, but my favorite method for putting the odor-neutralizing effects of activated charcoal to work in my suitcase is through inexpensive charcoal-infused litter box filters. Although technically designed for litter box lining, these paper sheets make it easy to tear off as much or as little odor-controlling action as you need.
7. Give the wheels a break
although you may be tempted to toss your suitcase into a storage unit or closet and run, paying a moment’s attention to the position of your suitcase in storage can help prevent unnecessary wear and tear to your suitcase, helping to save money in the long run. If your suitcase or carry-on has roller wheels on the bottom, be sure to tilt your suitcase onto its side before placing it into storage.
Resting the suitcase’s weight – especially if it’s loaded with smaller suitcases or your travel essentials- on its wheels constantly can cause premature wear and tear. Laying the bag on its side – preferably on reinforced bumpers designed to support the weight of the suitcase – is an easy way to care for your suitcase in storage.
Best Places to Store Suitcases:
Best: Closet or under-bed storage
Okay: climate controlled storage unit
Avoid: attics and basements
Some travelers, as an emblem of their aspirations to return to the road, actually store their suitcases in a prominent location like an entryway. The daily reminder that a trip is just one choice away can be inspirational for some.
Artist, digital nomad, and highly sensitive person, Lynli started traveling full time as a digital nomad in 2018. Writer and Illustrator by day, remote-destination explorer by other-days, Lynli is passionate about pushing the boundaries of her own comfort zone, exploring the world as a plus size, one-bag traveler, and journaling it all on WanderBig.com