How-to-clean-and-take-care-of-your-Rimowa
How-to-clean-and-take-care-of-your-Rimowa

Your Rimowa luggage will get dirty eventually. No way around it. Depending on the material, aluminum or polycarbonate, a different treatment is required. Aluminum and polycarbonate are robust and durable materials but they are still vulnerable to scratches, dents and dullness. Cleaning and treating them with the wrong detergents can permanently damage your Rimowa.

Polycarbonate

Not as receptive to scratches, dullness and dents as aluminum but it still can get dirty. On the exterior the wheels and bottom will get dirty from carrying it out on the pavement. The dirt on the bottom can be easily wiped of off with a wet cloth. The wheels may require some more effort to clean. All type of dirt can be entangled in the wheels. On many occasions the wheels on my Rimowa were jamming because straints of hair were entangled in the wheels. These can be taken out with a sharp pointy object.

The polycarbonate shell will eventually be decorated with some, not so beautiful, stickers from the airliner. You have two options. Embrace it or try to remove it. When you try to remove it you will notice that the sticker will leave some debris behind which is even harder to remove. This type of debris is fairly easy to remove with non aggressive sticker removal. It’s not recommended to use acetone or nail polish removal since these liquids are relatively aggressive and can permanently damage the surface.

Typical example of sticker you unwillingly receive when travelling

Aluminum

Rimowa luggage is known for its aluminum luggage. Currently the Classic and the Original are made of aluminum. Previous series made from aluminum are the Pilot, Attaché, Topas and Classic Flight. Although aluminum looks great, way better than polycarbonate, it has some properties which should be taken into account.

Dents

Unlike polycarbonate, once it gets dented it can’t be popped back in its original shape. As with stickers, you can either embrace the dents or try to protect the suitcase. There are many protective covers for Rimowa luggage.

Anodized Aluminum

All aluminum cases from Rimowa, also the Titanium and Stealth, are anodized. This simply means that they have a protective layer which slows down the corroding process. The layer is obtained through an electrical process. The colors titanium and black are also obtained through the same electrical process.

The extra coating protects the suitcase but over time, anodized aluminum will begin to naturally scratch and fade, just like any metal. If you don’t clean it regularly it will fade quicker. Also exposing it to the elements will make the scratch and fade quicker. By cleaning it regularly and keeping it in a dry place will prolong the anodized protection. Cleaning however should be done with a gentle cleaning solution but with a good rub. A detergent which is suitable for anodized surfaces is Anodicare. A bottle including microfiber costs around $29 usd.

Using any aggressive detergents can de-anodize the aluminum and makes it vulnerable to corrosion.

Corrosion

Aluminum will eventually corrode but it won’t rust. Corrosion isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it makes the aluminum dull. This calcium like layer can’t be washed off. In order to remove the corrosion layer it needs special treatment. The corrosion process won’t happen in the first few weeks or even month, but will eventually happen. The corrosion process is triggered by environmental factors like humidity and moisture. Keeping your luggage in a climate controlled environment will prevent it from corroding. But since luggage is often taken outside and is stored in humid attics, basements and garages it’s hard to prevent is from eventually corroding.

Example of an aluminum Rimowa with corrosion. Rimowa of several years old which has been stored in a humid garage. The yellowish stains are corrosion and can only be removed with special detergent

Interior

The interior of the new Rimowa models are made from polyjaquard. This is a synthetic material which allows for complex patterns. Since it is made of a synthetic material it can be easily wiped down. The interior doesn’t need any special treatment. A trip back home with a suitcase full of worn clothes can leave a unpleasant odor behind. An odor eliminator can do the trick.

How to remove stickers

Stickers can be hard to remove. However with the right tools they can be removed very quickly. You should always avoid aggressive detergents which can permanently damage your suitcase. Many people use nail polish remover or some other detergent but these can damage the surface of the suitcase. I would advise to use some non aggressive sticker removal and a clean micro cloth.

Some stickers have a plastified toplayer. First try to peel off as much as possible from the toplayer. The sticker removal won’t be absorbed by the toplayer. When only the debris remains soak it with the sticker removal. After a few moments you can easily rubb it off with a cloth. If the debris of the sticker is really hard to remove with a cloth then you can try a plastic card. For example a credit card or something similar.

How to remove corrosion

Corrosion is harder to remove as it requires some special treatment. I would advise the Belgom Alu Polish in order to get rid of corrosion or to protect against it. Please remember to only use aluminum polish when the anodized protective layer is far gone and corrosion has set in. Best is off course to prevent your suitcase from corroding by taking care of it and storing it in a dry place. With the example below I want to show that corrosion can set in on Rimowa and other aluminum cases when not treating correctly and that there is also a way to get rid of the corrosion.

The yellowish stains are corrosion. This is an extreme example of a Rimowa which has been laying in a humid garage for years. In lesser extreme examples the surface will become dull.
Put the detergent on a clean cloth and give the surface which has corrosion a good rub. The white detergent will become black. Now you remove the black detergent by rubbing it with another clean cloth. I put a piece of tape on the surface to show the difference once the corrosion has been rubbed off.
The original color of the aluminum is visible again. The detergent not only removed the corrosion but also protects the surface.

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