4 Tips + 10 Steps on How to Clean and Wash a Backpack

Nowadays, backpacks have become a necessity for almost anyone. Honestly, I cannot name anyone that I know of who does not own one. Can you? The modern times require fast paced living and convenient lifestyles.

Travelling, for one, has become a huge aspect of day to day life. In fact, on average, we spend a couple of hours just for commute. Others even travel far distances every single day. With all these demands, using a trusty backpack is an answered prayer. With backpacks, you are guaranteed hands-free travel, comfort, and functionality!

However, using backpacks on a daily basis can result to a dirty backpack. I mean, any bag subjected to such use would need cleaning from time to time right? Well, with backpacks, special care and cleaning should be dedicated to make sure that your reliable partner will be able to stay and serve you for a long time.

Whether you carry books, documents, clothes, or gadgets, your pack would eventually need to be cleaned. Thus, it is vital for every backpack owner to have knowledge and awareness in terms of cleaning and maintaining his/ her backpack to keep it clean and fresh. No matter how good looking or expensive your pack is, if you do not know how to clean and maintain it, the pack won’t last.

Learn how to clean and wash your backpack using this article! We have listed down some tips and steps just for you.


Why clean your backpack?

Hmmm…first off, let me ask this important question before the cleaning starts, what is your purpose for cleaning your backpack? I mean, honestly, why now? You would probably answer any of these two:

  • Your backpack is so dirty beyond distinction and you do not know whether it would be better to buy a new one.
  • You clean your backpack as a routine in order to maintain, protect and make the most of your investment. And you love your backpack enough to provide care and attention to it!

Which of these answers do you belong to? I hope you belong to the latter! Anyway, whether you belong to the first or second answer, we will enumerate steps and tips for you.


Let’s Start!
  1. Empty your backpack

Before you start anything, you should make sure your backpack is ready for some cleaning and washing. What does it mean? It simply means, just like washing your clothes, you need to remove and empty the pack of its contents. Make sure that all the compartments are vacant. You wouldn’t want to damage some of your stuff right? Make sure that you open up all slots and leave everything unzipped.

  1. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions

Probably the most important step before starting to wash your backpack is looking for the washing instructions. Just like how you wash your clothes right? Most packs offer instructions and tips so that you will be guided on the dos and don’ts in washing and cleaning. Depending on the material, each pack is washed differently. The best advisor would have to be the manufacturer. Nevertheless, there is a general method of cleaning and washing. When it comes to washing, most fabric packs are washed by hand and some can be machine-washed.


Note: When it comes to leather, check out our guide exclusively for leather backpacks. Leather care for your leather backpack.


  1. What is you backpack made of?

Backpacks can be made from different materials. Aside from reading the manufacturer’s instructions, doing a bit of research won’t hurt. By knowing what kind of material your pack is made of, it would be easy to find out how to clean and wash it. With the help of the internet, a lot of articles could be found that will really help and guide you.


Note: If you accidentally spill or soil your backpack, the best time to clean it is ASAP. It would be more difficult to clean it when the stain or dirt has set.


  1. Remove any detachable parts (if applicable)

Some backpacks come with removable parts such as pouches, straps or even metal parts like buckles. Take off and remove these parts and clean them separately. If the backpack straps require cleaning, it is best to wash them by hand. All you need is water and a cleaning agent. Just soak the straps in for a few minutes to loosen the dirt. After that, give the straps a little rub before rinsing them in clean water. Let it dry.


Hand-wash or Machine-wash?

The prepping part is almost always the same for any backpack. Since we’re done with the first phase, the next step would be the actual washing of the pack. Before starting, you have to know and decide how you are going to clean your backpack. Are you going to wash it by hand? Or are you going to use the washing machine?


How to wash your backpack by hand

The first method I will discuss is the safest one: hand-washing your backpack. Manually washing your pack by hand is without a doubt the safest and best way to clean and wash it. Why? Simple: You have total control. You can clean and focus on the problem areas. You can be gentle with the delicate areas. You can prevent damage to the straps as well as the zippers.

  1. Prepare a tub and fill it with water and a cleaning agent
  2. You can immerse the pack into the tub while you are cleaning it. You can use a toothbrush to brush the problem areas or perhaps some stains your pack has. If your backpack has delicate spots such as embroidered areas, make sure to give extra care and caution so as not to cause damage. This step can take up to 10 minutes or so.
  3. Make sure to brush along the zippers to keep them clean and smooth.
  4. After you have completely washed and cleaned the pack, drain the water. Fill the tub once more with clean water. Continue to rinse until the water is soap-free. When rinsing, make sure that you gently rinse with clean water. It is not advisable to run water over the backpack. But if you do, use a gentle spout.
  5. Once rinsing is done, take out the backpack from the water and wring it by hand before hanging it to air dry.


Note: Keep all the pockets and compartments open during drying. It is not advisable to sun-dry the backpack. This can cause color fading.


How to machine-wash your backpack

In my opinion, using the washing machine should be the last resort in cleaning you backpack. All kinds of damage could happen. But anyway, some backpacks can be washed in the machine. Take note: not all packs can be washed in the washing machine. These days, the washing machine is every household’s best friend. Without it, how can we clean our huge load of laundry in under an hour or two? The washing machine is indeed one of the best and most practical inventions. Up until present, it is well-loved by many.

Aside from clothes, backpacks can also (but with caution) be washed in the washing machine. Here are the steps:

  1. Before anything else, make sure to read the label if the backpack can be washed in the washing machine. Do understand that most bags are advised against it.
  2. Get a laundry sack or oversized pillowcase. This is important since the straps can be stuck in the washing machine during the wash cycle and can destroy or rip them. Remember that in contrast to hand washing, you do not have control over washing machines. The case can provide additional protection for your pack and prevent some damage.
  3. Set the machine on gentle and use cold water. Using these setting on the washing machine can prevent the colors to bleed and also possible backpack destruction.
  4. Always keep your eye on the washing cycle. Just to be cautious. If something happens inside, you can immediately halt the cycle.
  5. Once done, dry out the backpack. It is highly recommended to air dry the bag instead of wringing it in the washing machine. The dryers in the washing machine are too intense.