How To Care For A Vintage Suitcase

A vintage suitcase is a good choice for the cost conscious consumer and can function just as well as a new one if you know how to care for a vintage suitcase properly. They not only cost much less than modern luggage, they are also sturdier. A suitcase that's been around for fifty years is most likely going to be around for fifty more. Don't overlook pieces at the resale shop just because it's a little beaten up. Here's how to learn how to care for a vintage suitcase.

To care for a vintage suitcase, you will need a few supplies at hand:

  • Leather conditioner and cleaner
  • Needle and thread
  • Iron on patches in a similar or matching color
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Febreze or any fabric odor elimination product.
  • Shoe polish or leather dye
  1. Consider the material that the vintage suitcase is made from. Usually it's a stiff core that has been covered in leather. Refurbishing is possible as long as the leather is not dried out and cracked. Cleaning and restoration products for leather can be found in auto supply stores. Another source is a tack shop. It's usually the case that a tack shop will carry a larger variety of leather care products.
  2. Re-dye or polish any faded spots in the leather. This is achieved by using shoe polish that can be purchased in shoe stores or anywhere shoe care supplies are sold. In the case of brighter colors, leather dyes are available. Leather supply places sell them to the general public and are available in non-toxic formulations.
  3. Clean the interior. A vintage suitcase has probably been stored in a dark and musty place. Think attics, basements or garages. It's hard to miss mildew, but odor is invisible. Start with a hand held vacuum cleaner to pull out any dust. If it's a sunny day, consider putting the suitcase out into the light to kill bacteria. Febreze will work, but it requires testing in a discreet corner to ensure it won't discolour the fabric.  
  4. When cleaning the interior, do a thorough inspection of the lining. If it's a bagged lining (one that's loose from the body) check for any holes, rips or tears. If the lining is a complete loss, and you want to replace it, contact furniture reupholsters. They have the knowledge and expertise to pull out the lining and replace it with a brand new one. In the case of a small tear, an iron patch or someone handy with needle and thread can repair it quickly.   

Carrying  a vintage luggage suitcase shows a flair for style that's been long lost. Many suitcases were used, before the advent of casual dress, in one trip. A suitcase for shoes, another for dress shirts and suits, and one for flat folds. This results in a large selection that's out there on the market. While it's not necessary in this day and age to carry so many pieces, it will most certainly show a unique touch. That alone makes learning how to care for a vintage suitcase well worth while.

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