I have this great piece of luggage that is both a soft-sided suitcase and a backpack. It used to be the right size for carry-on, but as we all know, those dimensions have been steadily shrinking as airlines try to compel us to check our bags and pay their fees.
Back to the luggage... I bought it in the early 90s for a short-term mission trip to Romania. It worked really well- held everything I needed for 3 weeks and could be carried on my back with ease. (I find wheeled luggage to be cantankerous, heavy, and unreliable- I've seen wheels bend, break, and come off of bags that were being wheeled over cobblestone streets, down curbs, and up bus steps. Not really something I want happening on a trip.)
We are going on a train trip this summer across much of the US. I need a perfectly-sized, sturdy bag with good shoulder straps and a padded waistbelt, so I dug into my closet and found ol' reliable. But there was a problem. The insides of the bag were coated with a tacky substance- it was like rubber cement that wouldn't come off. I think the waterproofing had just corroded over the years and broken down into really yucky molecules of ick.
The company that made the bag has a lifetime guarantee- they will repair or replace for free, so I sent it back to them as per their instructions. Nope. After many emails, they finally contacted me and passed the buck. "We had no part in the manufacture of this bag." Then they gave me the name of the manufacturer and told me I should contact them. Grrrr. They acted as if I had read the label on the bag incorrectly. I'm not going to rat out the company, but I'll tell you that it starts with a "J" and ends with an "ansport", and previously had a good reputation in my mind. Why would they put their label on something they wouldn't include in their warranty? And why did they tell me they were sending the bag back but not really even try to send it until a month later after I sent 4 emails asking for tracking info? I won't be buying their products again. Ever.
Time for my own alchemy. I figured since WD40 dissolved the glue left behind when I peeled labels off of jars, it might work to dissolve the tacky whatsits that were seeping out of the cloth of my favorite bag.
*DISCLAIMER- IF YOU DON'T GET THE SAME RESULTS I GOT, IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IF YOUR BAG, BACKPACK, OR TENT FALLS APART, IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IF YOU BREATHE TOO MUCH WD40, IT'S NOT MY FAULT. NOTHING IS MY FAULT*
In a well-ventilated area, I sprayed the tacky sections liberally with WD40, saturating the cloth. I then left it for 24 hours so the WD40 could do the work. Don't do this in the house. Let it sit in the garage or on the covered back porch.
Next step was to take very hot water, borax, Dawn, and a nylon scrubby (like you would use to clean potatoes) and go to town. I sprinkled borax over the damp cloth, took the scrubby with Dawn and hot water and rubbed and scrubbed the heck out of the bag. Then I rinsed it and put it in a front-load washer with Tide and a vinegar rinse. Regular cycle. After that, I put it in the dryer on very low heat and it came out looking great and smelling only faintly of WD40. Best of all, it was not nearly as tacky- only a slight feel to it that I can live with.
I sewed up a seam, put the metal stiffener bars back in their places, zipped it up, and it is ready for our train trip to Chicago, Kansas City, Flagstaff, LA, and back home! Three cheers for WD40!!!!!