The Consummate Traveler: The Quest for Scuff-Free Hard Shell Luggage

By Michele Goncalves
Michele Goncalves
Michele Goncalves
August 22, 2013 Updated: August 22, 2013

Have you ever stood by the carousel in the airport waiting for your luggage to arrive, only to find that your bag is filthy and scratched? It kind of hurts, doesn”t it? This happened on my last trip to a lovely shiny bright blue hard shell computer case I have had for a short while. I was traveling on a small aircraft, which forced me to check in this bag, and the consequences were scuffmarks and scratches all over.

Since this has happened, I have been on a quest to figure out how to remove these unsightly marks from my pricy and pretty luggage. Through my research on the Internet, I came across a few different methods that promised results. These included using an old- fashioned eraser and toothpaste to buff it out, just using a Magic Eraser, and another option involving a wax and silicon based furniture polish. I have decided to try these out and report back to you on my degrees of success.

Attempt 1:

My first try was using the old-fashioned pencil eraser and toothpaste technique. I was intrigued with these odd ingredients and wanted to see if this cheap approach could work. The recommendation was to first clean the entire area with a damp cloth. Next, rub a pencil eraser over the scratches and scuffs. Then take toothpaste, rub it over the scratches, and let it dry. To finish the process you have to take a clean cloth and buff off the paste.

So, what was my final conclusion? It didn”t work to my satisfaction. Although some very surface level scuffs came off, the more invasive (but not TOO deep) scratches were still there.

Attempt 2:

Next, I tried a two-step process with a wax based furniture polish and silicon based furniture polish. It took me some time to track down these furniture polish materials, but after buying the silicone polish from an online office supply store and locating the wax paste furniture polish from a home goods store, I went home to try my luck.

I first wiped the small suitcase clean with a dry cloth to remove any dust. Next, I put some of the wax paste into a few of the larger areas with scratches to test it out. I waited for a few minutes as it dried, and then I buffed it clean with a dry cloth. There were no changes to the appearance, except that my suitcase was now a bit more shinny than it was before.

Discouraged with my results, I took out the silicone spray polish and I tested a small spot. It didn”t work well at all. I really thought that the wax paste would have filled in the scratches a bit more successfully and that it would have minimized their appearance. Needless to say, I don”t think that there is any way to easily remove or buff out scratches from a polycarbonate suitcase with a high gloss finish.

The Bottom Line:

My advice to those of you who are looking to purchase a hard-shell suitcase is that you should look for cases with a texture on it rather than a smooth shiny one-color surface (the brand Rimowa sells cases with their trademark thick grooves on them). This way, scratches are not as noticeable to the eye.

Another option is to get a case with a design on it to disguise imperfections you may acquire with use (the brand Heys sells very colorful patterned hard-shell cases).

While I am sorry that my home experiments to solve my scratches did not work out successfully, I think I have learned my lesson.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels!

Michele Goncalves
Michele Goncalves