Restoring Vintage Suitcases

I posted earlier in the week about 3 lovely old suitcases I picked up from the junk shop. They are pretty battered and beaten but it just all adds to the character.

I was looking for some old suitcase for a while but searching ebay they always seem so expensive or too far away to collect.

So it was lucky that I found these little beauties! My sister and I decided we would spruce them up. Photos taken by my sister – you can see more of her work here!

I know nothing about restoration so we did a little research before hand online. We came across quite a few posts where people have also tackled the same sort of thing. Ill post the links at the end!

1. We started of by hoovering out all 3 cases. They all had little bits of ripped paper, dust and one even a rusty nail!

2. We filled our sink with warm soapy water and gave each case a wipe over. For the insides, I gave them all a wipe down with a cleaning cloth as they all smelt a little musty. None had any immediate signs of mold but its better to be safe than sorry!

3. To tackle the smell……They all smelt pretty bad, after how many years shut up they had the tell tale musty smell that comes along with anything old! To tackle the smell, I crumped up some old newspapers into the bottom of each case. I filled a small bowl with baking soda and some drops of lavendar oil.

3. After leaving them shut for a couple of days, they smelt alot better! I hoovered them out again afterward to pick up any more dust.

5. I spruced up some of the locks and corners using wire wool and a polisher. It was difficult to get into every nook, so some ended up looking better than others. The green case came up the best as it had the most rust on it

6. After cleaning the rust off, I gave all the locks a wipe down using silver and brass polish, this took off any last bits of dust that were still there.

8. Looking a bit better now!! I didn’t do much to the out side of the cases, I was worried I would damage or discolour the leather so I used some leather shine to help protect them a little more. I did consider using some shoe polish to go over areas where they had been worn but thought the colours might not match.

9. I’ve left the insides in tact for now. In a few weeks I might tackle replacing them but they dont seem to bad!

It doesnt seem as if ive done much to them but they feel and smell alot cleaner than they did before. Heres hoping they last another 30 years!

I cant wait to fill them!

Our Research:

6 thoughts on “Restoring Vintage Suitcases

  1. jane

    Hi Erica enjoyed reading this post – am looking at restoring an old leather suitcase made by David Jones – just wondering what the little tool in pic 6 is – does it remove rust? cheers and thanks, jane

  2. The Collector

    Hy Erica!

    Just wonder if you have any clue how to clean a suitcase made from Vulkanfiber – which is, as far as I research, smt between paper and plastic, smth created earlier in the ’30, in Germany, by Vulkan manufacturer.

    Thanks, and best.

    The C.


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