How To Clean Your Backpack



Investing in a quality backpack is an essential care for any adventurer. From the compact daypack to the spacious large backpack, your gear’s longevity depends on proper maintenance. 

Over time, salts from your sweat and oil from your skin inevitably find their way into the fibers of your backpack, especially the shoulder straps and hip belt. The result? Unpleasant grease spots and the gradual degradation of the fabric. Zippers are not immune either; they tend to get gunked up, making them difficult to use.

Things You Need Before Washing The Backpacks

When it comes to cleaning your backpack, you need some things that help you to clean it.

  • There should be no fragrances or additives in a mild soap.
  • A sponge or washcloth that is clean
  • Nylon-bristled brush with soft bristles

The Best Techniques for Cleaning Backpacks

When it comes to cleaning your backpack, adopting the right strategies ensures both efficiency and longevity. Begin by emptying your backpack, removing loose debris, and vacuuming its interior. This step sets the stage for a thorough cleaning process.

For the main body, a mixture of mild detergent and warm water works wonders, addressing both stains and odors without compromising the material. Employ a soft brush to gently scrub the surfaces, targeting those stubborn spots.

Light Cleaning

At the beginning, an overnight trip or a vigorous hike often leaves your trusty backpack in need of a little TLC.

. Be sure to empty all pockets. Sand and dirt can be removed by shaking it upside down.

. If there are any stains or spots on the exterior, use a sponge and a little soap to lightly scrub them.

. Clean the interior with a sponge (no soap required).

. Remove the soap by rinsing with cool, clean water with a sponge or cloth.

Deep Cleaning

When it comes to Deep Cleaning your backpack, tackling those stubborn stains and unexpected spills is essential for maintaining its longevity. 

Here’s how you do it:

. Using a vacuum cleaner, delicately clean seams and crevices in pockets, and deep within the main pack body after emptying your backpack.

. If your backpack is compatible, remove the hip belt and shoulder straps. Use a sponge and mild soap to clean them individually. Put a stream of running water on your hands and thoroughly rinse them

. Fill a bathtub or large sink with approximately 5 inches of lukewarm water. Make use of a gentle soap. You can use a sponge to clean interiors and brush away exterior spots after immersing your backpack and agitating it vigorously. Care should be taken with mesh pockets in areas directly in contact with skin.

How Often to Wash a Backpack

The importance of regular backpack cleaning is often overlooked. From dusty classrooms to sweaty gym sessions, our faithful companions endure a lot in daily life. However, the question arises: how often should we give our backpacks a thorough wash?

During school breaks, especially longer winter and summer vacations, consider incorporating backpack cleaning into your routine.

Washing a backpack in a washing machine

The best way to clean nylon or canvas backpacks is to wash them in the washing machine. However, if the bag features leather trim, it is advisable to refrain from machine-washing to prevent damage.

Step 1: Getting ready to wash

The first step in cleaning your backpack is to assess both the exterior and interior for stains. Use a specialized stain remover on stubborn spots, including inside walls. Empty pockets and place delicate items in pillowcases before washing. Use a gentle cycle with cold water to prevent damage to the backpack when washing it in the machine. During the 30-minute cycle, use a soft brush or toothbrush for precision cleaning. Put a pillowcase over the straps to protect them. Check for stains after washing and repeat if necessary. Keep the backpack away from direct sunlight to preserve its appearance. The routine not only keeps your backpack pristine, but also extends its lifespan, so it’s ready for your next adventure.

Step 2: Wash the Backpack

The bag should be washed in cold water on the gentle cycle of the washing machine with a small amount of gentle detergent. If the bag gets bunched up during the spin cycle, stop the machine and spread it out so it is thoroughly washed.

Step 3: Dry the bag by air

A thoughtful drying process is key to maintaining the longevity of your backpack after cleaning. Hang it upside down to let lingering moisture escape, preventing mold and odors. Line-dry it outdoors for a refreshing breeze. It is important to dry properly, according to my personal experience. Your bag, a trusted companion, deserves this attention not just for cleanliness but also for preserving its aesthetic and functionality. Your backpack will be ready for your next adventure once it has air-dried.

The best way to hand wash a backpack

Hand washing is the safest method for maintaining bookbags and backpacks. In the same way that you handle delicate items like baseball caps or cleats with care, you should handle your backpack gently as well.

Some backpacks, especially those designed for hiking adventures, come with protective coatings. In the harsh environment of a washing machine, these coatings might break down, compromising the bag’s durability. In this case, it’s better to skip the washer and wash by hand instead.

Here are the things you’ll need:

  • Washcloth, sponge, or towel
  • Detergent or soap
  • cleaning brush
  • Bathtub, or large basin
  • Gloves (To protect your hands)


Are backpacks safe to wash with other clothes?

Straps and zippers on the bag could damage other clothing if you add it to a regular load. So, Backpacks should be washed on a gentle cycle alone.

How long does a backpack take to dry?

It may take a day or more for a backpack to completely dry due to its dense material. A warmer season accelerates the drying process, while cooler months delay it.

Are the dryer shrinks backpacks?

Drying a backpack with a dryer can indeed cause it to shrink. To prevent any potential damage to bags, it is advisable to air-dry them consistently.

What is the best way to clean a backpack without washing it?

Shake your bag to remove loose dust, dirt, and crumbs. You can gently brush the exterior of your bag with a large, clean, soft-bristle brush, similar to those used to clean suede shoes. If you don’t have a brush, use a towel to dust it.

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