How to Clean a Backpack Like a Pro

How to Clean a Backpack

Image from REI

After that last hiking incident, you probably swore that you would never let it happen again. Nevertheless, you couldn’t have guessed that the rock was that slippery for you to have a nasty fall. Now you best backpack is filthy both inside and outside, and you are wondering whether to wash or through it away. Today we will guide you on how to wash your backpack easily so that you do not have to worry about throwing your dirty backpack away ever again. 

How to wash a backpack

Depending on the size of your backpack, you can choose to either machine or hand-wash it. Make sure that you check the care label to ensure that washing it using a machine or using hot water will not damage it.

Machine washing your backpack

1. Empty all the pockets of the backpack while ensuring that there are no small items hidden as they can be damaged while washing it. Check the seams and corners for any lodged debris and remove them, if you are washing the bag using a vacuum cleaner, leave the pockets unzipped. 

2. Check to see whether you bag comes with removable straps. If so, remove then and wash them separately. If the backpack comes with a metal frame, remove it also. 

3. Make sure that the bag fits in your washing machine and leave plenty of room to move about.

4. Look for a laundry bag and toss the backpack in. This helps to keep the backpack compact while ensuring that the zips, as well as the straps, will not damage your machine. A pillowcase can also do the job well if you do not have a laundry bag. 

5. Run your washing machine on the wash empty to rinse detergents that you have used previously. Next is to use a small quantity of gentle detergent and avoid using fabric softener as this may damage your backpack. 

6. Wash the backpack on gentle cycle using cold water and remove it from the laundry bag.

7. Finally allow your bag to dry naturally. Hang the bag upside down and ensure it is away from direct heat source. Avoid tumble dry as this can damage the bag. Ensure that your bag is 100 percent dry before storing.

Hand washing

How to Clean a Backpack

Image from backpacktools

If the manufacturer recommends hand washing or the backpack is too big for machine washing, then hand washing is a better alternative. 

1. Empty the backpack while ensuring nothing is left lodged in the corners as well as seams. Remove the metal frame if your bag has one. 

2. Fill the basin with Luke warm water but not hot water. Hot water may cause color bleeding. 

3. Add in a small quality of detergent free soap. Check for manufacturer recommendation. However, ensure you do not use fabric softener especially if your bag is waterproof as this damages the material. 

4. Use a cloth or a soft brush to scrub the bag. Concentrate on the areas that are dirty to remove the stains

5. Dry your backpack naturally while keeping it away from direct sunlight. Hanging the backpack upside down allows it to dry faster. Ensure it dries completely before storing it. 


Spraying your backpack with a reproofer makes the backpack more water resistant and this will help to minimize dirt build up. Apply the reproofer after washing the backpack and allow it to dry. Now that you have the basic skills of how to clean a backpack, you do not have toss out your filthy backpack again.

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