How to Wash a Backpack: A General Guide in 2021

Let us admit, we don’t wash our backpack as often as we use them. There is nothing wrong with it because backpacks don’t require frequent cleaning and washing. But once in a while, everyone desires to make their commuting partner look new and fresh. If you want to know how to wash a backpack, keep on reading our guide.

Therefore, we have tried to make the backpack washing guide helpful for every type of backpack user. Whether it’s for school, travel, frameless, framed, or any category, the information is here for washing. Backpacks are pricey and unfavorable to buy all the time, so taking care can make them go a long way.


Pre-wash care of backpack:

If you don’t want your backpack to go for aggressive cleaning and scrubbing experience to get rid of the filths, you need to take care of it upfront. It means you have to maintain it every time you use it, as little care adds up to the most. Some of those maintenances include:

  • Dusting out the backpack with a cloth or brush to get rid of the specks of dust and filths, every time after use.
  • Taking out sweaty gym outfits or smelly shoes as soon as you come home
  • Wiping off any stain with a wet towel before it becomes old and hard to get rid off
  • Drying it in fresh air or under sunlight if it gets wet

So, if you maintain these, then you will feel the least need to wash your backpack. However, for all those lazy people, who don’t do all those, we have the right washing methods for you. Now, we will see how you can carry on with the washing, also we will see what precautions to take and what to avoid for backpack wash.


What you need to wash your backpack

While you are washing your backpack, you need a few tools to carry on.

  • Towel/ napkin
  • A soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Mild dishwashing soap with a sponge
  • A bucket full of water (probably the size of your backpack)
  • Pair of scissors ( not to cut your backpack)


Method-1: How to wash a backpack by hand

Hand washing is probably the safest and most sensitive way to wash your backpack. But it can’t be the most effective answer depending on the situation it is in. Let’s see together how to proceed with hand washing.

Step 1: Empty it off

To begin with, washing your backpack, you need to first empty it. That sounds pretty basic, right? But here, we are not talking about more than just taking out the items. We are telling you to turn the zip-opened backpack upside down and get rid of all the small debris you don’t even know exists.

If there is a certain area crumbed with dirt, simply take the toothbrush and dry-brush. Because the dampened dirt will be even harder to scrub off. If your backpack has a removable metal frame, then take that off too. However, if the frame isn’t removable, then keep all the zips open while washing.

Step 2: Remove any remaining stains outside

For the exterior, if there is any old stain, then remove it gently with a wet towel along with the dishwasher gel. However, if the stain seems stubborn, then use a non-bleaching stain remover (if you have any).

Step 3: Soak in a bowl of lukewarm water

Next, take your bucket and fill it with lukewarm water (for the best cleaning results). Fill it in till it isn’t enough to soak your entire backpack. Then, dilute a certain ratio of the cleaning agent (preferably 1:1 ratio) in the water. Finally, simply soak your backpack inside and leave it there for 30 minutes max.

Step 4: Scrub gently inside and out

After 30 minutes, now take the sponge, wet it, and scrub the entire bag inside and out with gentle hands. However, make sure you don’t overdo it. For reaching the interior well, flip the bag inside out and scrub. For those special hard to reach areas, you can use a toothbrush.

Step 5: Give a final rinse

The final step is to rinse the backpack with plain water (lukewarm or cold) to get rid of the soapy water. Make sure you reach every compartment and corner, along with the zippers and detailing. Hence, rinse it till you don’t find any soap bubbling up from the backpack.

Step 6: Let it dry

Now it is time to let the newly washed backpack dry before the next use. First, take a paper towel or dry cloth to soak up all the excess water. This will speed up the drying process. Next, hang it on a hanger with all compartments wide open, and leave it under fresh air for drying Also, hanging it under mild sunlight will help take away any remaining smell from the backpack.

While drying it, flip it to the other side once a side completely dries. Remember, you must dry it up, or else molds and fungus will grow into the backpack. If your backpack is water repellent, then it won’t take much time to dry as water does not get absorbed.


Method-2: How to wash a backpack in the washing machine

For those who don’t have enough time to hand wash their backpack, they would give this responsibility to their washing machine. Therefore, for machine wash, you need to follow the similar pre-wash steps as you would do for hand washing.

If the backpack is not critical from a materials point of view and the washing instructions give the green light to the use of the washing machine, this method can be used more comfortably and effectively.

Let’s see the steps to be taken together.

1) First of all, it is a duty, as in the previous case, to check that the backpack is empty. An inspection may cause your washing machine unpleasant problems. Shake the backpack thoroughly to remove residues, dust, and crumbs.

2) It is good to open all the pockets and turn the covers inside out to complete cleaning to prepare the backpack for washing carefully.

3) Remove the belts and any small parts that might damage the washing machine, if possible. These elements can be washed by hand individually.

4) As in hand washing, it is advisable to pre-treat the most important flecks with a degreaser for about half an hour before putting the bag in the washing machine if you want effective cleaning.

5) The washing can be set once the necessary time is over by inserting a backpack into the basket. Pour a mild detergent into the compartment and select a synthetic materials-appropriate program.

6) When the washing machine has been finished, drying can begin. The advice is to allow your backpack to dry in the open air so that no moisture is left.

Whether you choose to wash your hands or the washing machine, you can get an optimal cleaning of your backpack, carefully following all the instructions we have given you. And if there are any signs of wear, don’t despair: remember that its worn appearance will make the accessory even more fascinating and unique in the world.


Things to remember for washing backpack

We are going to list out some precautions and tips for cleaning a backpack. If you follow our measures, then your backpack will outlast other products you have for yourself.

Always read the label:

Every backpack has a ‘warning’ label or sticker on it. This tells you about the caution you have to take for washing your backpack. The warning might vary for every backpack. However, some manufacturers warn about not washing the backpack in a machine. Then, of course, you should avoid washing in the machine.

Don’t use hot water:

Hot water does strip off the color and texture of a material, so your backpack won’t spare from it. Materials like nylon are prone to damage with hot water especially. You won’t see the result in one wash, but in the long term, your backpack will become faded.

If there is a stubborn stain on the backpack, soak in lukewarm water to soften it up and then gently exfoliate it off. Also, to top it off you can rinse with cold water.

Don’t dry it under direct sunlight or hairdryer:

Drying the backpack in direct harsh sunlight and its UV rays can damage the material of the backpack. However, drying it under the morning or winter sun is not that harmful. Also, don’t use hot hair dryers, tumblers to dry the backpack. Letting it dry under natural air is the best possible way.

Avoid machine washing as much as you can:

Wash your backpack mostly by hand, and letting the machine be the last option for washing. Most backpacks do not support machine wash, especially the framed ones. Because the repeated cycles can loosen the frame. In the case of removable frames, you should first remove the frame and then let it wash in the machine.

However, most of the nylon backpacks or canvas are machine safe.

Never use bleach/ or bleached detergents:

It is always preferable to use gentle fabric cleaner or dishwasher soap to wash backpacks as they are safe from harmful agents. You should avoid bleached cleaners at any cost. This does a rough cleaning, and if your backpack is water-resistant, it will damage its capability.

Also, bleach fades the color and damages the zipper too.

Never use direct products on the backpack:

You should always dilute the cleaning agent with water beforehand. Using it directly is not suitable as you don’t know whether that cleaner is totally safe for your backpack or not. Even to remove spots or stains, do not rub soap directly on it.

Be gentle always:

Hard rubbing and scrubbing are not meant for your backpack. No matter how dirty and stained it gets, always be gentle with the cleaning. Again, the material will get disrupted and threads will come off as a result. So, always be gentle with your backpack.

Try to avoid washing as far as possible:

It might sound unusual as we are advising you to wash your backpack as little as possible. Well yes, the less you wash, the more days it will retain and stay new possibly. However, you should dry-clean, dust, and wipe it regularly which will lessen the requirement for washing.

Also, your light-colored backpack may become dirty, or the interior getting smelly due to leaving long term unwashed. In that case, you can wash it to make it fresh again. Whereas, for stains, use a chemical-free spot-remover as soon as you notice the spot.


How often should a backpack be washed?

You should wash your backpack as you feel the need. Usually, the more you care for it, the less washing it will require. However, light-colored backpacks need more cleaning as they get dirty faster. If the dirt starts to sit on the backpack, then it can become difficult to get off it.

Therefore, avid travelers and hikers should use dark-colored backpacks as their bags have the tendency to get dirty the most. You can buy dark-colored backpacks that are way hassle-free to maintain.


Determining backpack washing according to the material of the backpack:

Different manufacturers use different materials for backpacks. Some use fabric, while others use leather, nylon, or polyester. In the case of washing, nylon and polyester are easy to wash as they are less vulnerable to getting tears or scratches. They are also machine friendly. Whereas, fabric backpacks are easy to wash too, just normally the way you wash your outfits.

Whereas, leather backpacks are fragile to wash. They have more chances of getting scratched and must be handled with care. In terms of daily usage, leather backpacks are not preferred.

Apart from this, all the backpacks’ hardware should also be maintained with care. Take off the logo, zippers, meshed pockets, framings, and all the others too while washing your backpack. Also, no matter what the material is, just try to hand wash it as much as possible. It’s just a matter of a few minutes or an hour out in a month to do it.


Final Verdict

Now that you know how to clean your backpack, so why are you waiting? If you feel like your backpack needs a wash, you should clean it to prevent further hassle. It will save you the expenses to buy a new backpack every now and then. This way, your favorite backpack’s life can be lengthened. You have to care for your backpack the way it takes care of you in daily life.

Whether you are a commuter, school-goer, hiker, or simply a travel freak, a backpack comes to use for every purpose. Every backpack is different from each other, so you have to handle yours in its own way. Nonetheless, enjoy your newly washed backpack in a matter of a few minutes.

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