Hi there! Welcome to the Thrifty Chicks monthly blog hop. Today’s challenge is vintage luggage, and I think you’ll enjoy the projects that my fellow “Chicks” have come up with. Look for links to their creative ideas at the end of this post.
I plan to focus not so much on a project, but on how to clean vintage luggage that time has not treated kindly. You may have a piece or two that you want to use in your home decor or as part of a DIY project, but it’s grimey and perhaps a bits smelly.
I’ll pass on a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years that will make you think twice before passing an imperfect suitcase by the next time you see one at a garage sale or thrift store(!).
When I realized that this month’s challenge would focus on luggage, I ventured into my
freezer garage, knowing that I had at least a couple of suitcases out there. I poked around and sure enough, found not two, but rather five. Surely I had plenty to choose from for a project.
None of them was in super condition, which probably explains why I had never bothered to try and sell them at my shop.
They each had their own set of problems. Some dirty, others grimy. One without a handle, another with a faulty latch. At the end of the day, this luggage will never be perfect, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t make some small improvements to their appearance.
For my first step, I wiped each of them down with a damp cloth that I dipped in a bowl of sudsy water.
I used Ajax dish detergent because that’s what I had on hand and because I love the grapefruit scent. [Note: This post contains affiliate links.]
The damp cloth easily removed the light coating of dust that had settled on each piece as it sat out in my garage, but it had no affect whatsoever on scuff marks, like the one you see here on this vinyl suitcase.
However, a gentle rubbing with Bar Keeper’s Friend did the trick in no time at all.
Next I tried the Bar Keeper’s Friend on the surface of the suitcase, but to no avail. I think it the scuff mark on the smooth surface versus the grime on the textured surface that made the difference.
What happened next floored me. I decided to give LA’s Totally Awesome spray a try on the textured surface. Kathy, a sweet reader, had recommended it to me a while back. I simply spritzed it on lightly and wiped it off with my damp cloth, and voila, it looked like brand new, as you can see in this photo.
[Note: I’ve added the product to my Amazon shop, but you can buy it at Dollar Tree for a dollar(!).]
Next, I went to work on this cardboard suitcase with some sort of papery surface. Beyond the dust removal I mentioned above, it did not respond to any sort of cleaning whatsoever.
I was able to remove the adhesive left behind after removing an airline baggage tag that had been wrapped around the handle. Goo Gone, one of my favorite products, easily removed those remains.
The handle cleaned up nicely, but those water stains and grime that you see surrounding it are pretty permanent.
Ditto this second cardboard and paper case with its irreversible water stains and grime. But I’m not too bothered since it only cost me $2.99.
The fifth case, the fabric one at the top of this photo, cleaned up nicely with the damp rag, but there was no hope for the poor, beat-up leather handle.
When I opened it, I found a fabric lining that had a bit of a musty smell, so I turned to my favorite fabric refresher–baking soda.
I sprinkled it all around the interior and left if for a week; then I vacuumed up the soda and found that it had quite beautifully absorbed all the musty odor.
They are not perfect, but they are reasonably clean, for which I am very grateful.
I’m plannng to bring the whole stack up to my booth at the Gristmill Antique Center next week.
Remarkably, the five cases look pretty good together, right?
If they weren’t completely in the way, I might leave them right here in the kitchen, to hint at their stories of travel and overnights with loved ones.
Can you blame me for picking these up (all for under $5.00), even though they are riddled with imperfections? They’ll make an interesting display in my booth, and I feel sure that buyers will come along shortly to adopt them. I just have to be patient and wait a little while.
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Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Thrift Chick posts:
1. Quick & Easy Cosmetic Case Makeover, by Thrifty Rebel Vintage
2. How to Clean & Care for Antiques: Vintage Luggage, by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (me!)
3. Re-Purposing a Vintage Travel Case, by Lora B. Create & Ponder
4. Upcycled Suitcase Tray, by Little Vintage Cottage
Bye for now,
See what I’m selling in my