How to Wash a Backpack – Dingy, Smelly Straps No More

It’s inevitable. The moment you get your Backpack out of the washing machine, it’s going to need another rinse cycle before it can go in the dryer. You may have heard that this is how you wash a backpack, but is that never truly clean? Not at all!

While rinsing off your pack after washing is essential, other steps are needed to wash a backpack. Follow these simple instructions and say goodbye to dingy straps and smelly backpacks for good!

You can clean most backpacks in either a washing machine or by hand. You are going to need the care to make your Backpack as comfortable as possible. This manual shows how to wash your Backpack and wash all your bags to ensure that they stay clean. Backpackers can be washed using hand or washer dryers.

How often should I clean my Backpack?

A backpack does not warrant regular washing. . A cleaning twice a year should be sufficient unless it resurfaces daily with normal wear.

What You'll Need: Supplies For Cleaning Your Backpack

For machine-washing:

  • Laundry bag: You can use a pillowcase or mesh bag that backpacks come in.
  • Non-bleach detergent: If you use bleach, it can damage the fabric and straps of your Backpack.
  • Stain remover: Baking soda can help get out stains and dish soap and laundry detergent.

For handwashing:

  • Water: Hot water is best for how to wash a backpack because it helps remove tough odors. You’ll want the water temperature on warm or cool, so you don’t damage your pack.
  • Soap: Castile soap is excellent for washing a backpack because you can use it in handwashing and machine-washing.
  • Sponge or brush: You’ll want something that will help scrub off the dirt, mud, blood (if you’re cleaning your hunting gear), or whatever else might be caked on your pack. A toothbrush works well for how to wash a backpack.

Things to consider before washing your Backpack

Check the Backpack Label

It is often located inside the bag where the zipper is. If it does not, it’ll generally have some information on whether your luggage was waterproof.

Suppose your Backpack is ineligible without the labels. In that case, you should test your handwashing agent on small areas to see if there are adverse effects on the fabric of your Backpack.

If it’s not true and you should follow it, you may want to replace the cleaning product with one that is milder if you see color changes. You should also make sure that your Backpack is put in a washing machine with milder cleaning agents before washing the water system.

Disinfect the Backpack

To disinfect the interior and exterior of the Backpack, mix a one-to-one disinfectant and warm water solution. Use a soft sponge or washcloth for a gentle wipe down.

You could also add this disinfectant in the wash water of washable water (check the label directions for the correct dosage if the product is used by hand or machine.

Air Dry the Backpack

Use an old towel to wipe out the outside of the pack and every pocket. Alternatively, allow the Backpack to hang as tight as possible if the zippered pockets and bags are open.

Avoid placing in a dryer in direct sunlight because that would damage the fabric.

Make sure the Backpack is free of debris

Ensure that you’ve fully emptied your Backpack, including all interior and exterior pockets. Use a vacuum cleaner to extract the food debris stuck in the bottoms of the bag.

This straightforward step will make washing simpler and will eliminate small insects from becoming attracted to the Backpack. The Backpack can be washed with a hand cleaner or cleaned with a dryer.

Empty every pocket and vacuum

The first step in the washing of any Backpack is to empty all of the pockets. Leave each bag unless available open.

If possible, remove any clips added to the accessory belt, removable straps, or metal parts. Inflate an air bubble nozzle in both directions to remove dust and debris. Use a vacuum to clean the bags.

Rinse thoroughly

Try getting the most water available so you cannot damage the shape of the container. If you’re afraid you won’t, you may try spreading on a towel.

If you accidentally drink much excess water, you can take it home and rinse it away with water by using a dry towel. When you’re finished using soap, you need to rewash the back with clean water thoroughly.

How to Wash a Backpack in Just a Few Easy Steps

Clean your hardworking bag by hand or wash them. A single spill or stain can ruin a backpack. The good news is that you can clean up an already worn pack easily. Clean at home with a disinfectant wipe.

It would be best to wash your clothes by hand in the washing machine or wash your hands in a dryer. Use a paper cloth to remove the bag. Ensure every item is cleaned, from the wiper to the washcloth.

Steps of washing a backpack in the washer?

-Choose a laundry bag for your Backpack.

-Put the detergent in the washing machine with water at room temperature or warm, not hot. You can add one cup of vinegar to avoid the smell and remove odors after rinsing it twice.

-Place the Backpack in the washer on its cycle (no other clothes) and wash it.

-After washing, rinse your Backpack in cold water until the water runs clear and there is no soap left on the outside of the bag or inside pockets. Place it back into a laundry bag for spin drying if you have a front loader. If not, hang to dry somewhere indoors with good air circulation so that mildew does not form.

-Wash your clothes with nonchlorine bleach or cold water if you want to reuse them while they are still wet. You can use vinegar for this purpose, too, after washing and rinsing the Backpack twice. It will remove the smell from it altogether.

Steps of washing a backpack by hand?

-Choose a large container to use for your Backpack. A sink is the best choice, but you can also use a bucket or bathtub to wash clothes simultaneously.

-Fill it with lukewarm water and add soap. If you have stains on your pack, dishwashing liquid works better than laundry detergent because it’s stronger.

-Place the Backpack in soapy water and scrub it with a sponge or brush to remove dirt, mud, blood from hunting clothes, etc. You can use an old toothbrush for tough-to-remove stains on your camping bag as well.

-Rinse off all soap by running cool water over your pack.

-After washing, rinse your Backpack in cold water until the water runs clear and there is no soap left on the outside of the bag or inside pockets. Place it back into a laundry bag for spin drying if you have a front loader. If not, hang to dry somewhere indoors with good air circulation so that mildew does not form.

-Wash your clothes with nonchlorine bleach or cold water if you want to reuse them while they are still wet. You can use vinegar for this purpose, too, after washing and rinsing the Backpack twice. It will remove the smell from it altogether.

Can I put my Backpack in the dryer?

You can put your Backpack in the dryer if you’ve washed it thoroughly by hand.

Steps:

-Ensure that all pockets are empty before placing them into the machine. Do not include other items like hangers or clothes pegs because they could damage your pack’s material. It would be best if you also kept any zippers open to avoid catching on laundry items.

-Set your machine to low heat and check on it every few minutes until all of the water has evaporated.

-Remove your Backpack from the dryer while it’s still damp, reshape both straps with your hands, and hang in a well-ventilated area to finish drying completely before storing away. Allow 24 hours for the drying process.

-If there are any stains on your Backpack after you’ve cleaned it, then use a paper towel or cloth to scrub the area and clean until all colors are removed.

Tips For Removing Common Backpack Smells

  • Use baking soda
  • Place your Backpack inside a garbage bag with some dryer sheets, which will help absorb smells.
  • Leave out in the sun for at least half an hour to get rid of odors. It works great if you have mold or mildew stains on your Backpack as well!
  • Do not use bleach or chlorine when cleaning your Backpack, as this will damage the material.
  • Use a clean detergent or hand cleaner with a damp cloth to wipe down the pack’s exterior lightly. Ensure you rinse well with no soap residue left on the fabric, which can attract dirt and grime.
  • Dry by hanging in the shade for maximum airflow exposure. If desired, use an inflatable nozzle to get all the nooks and crannies of your Backpack. You can also leave it in a dryer with clean tennis balls to help fluff up the fabric.
  • Make sure you do not use bleach or chlorine when cleaning as this will damage the material; instead, try using baking soda for added effect!
  • If there is still some odor left after washing, you can sprinkle some baking soda inside your bag and leave it overnight.
  • The next day vacuum the powder up, and all smells will be gone!

Another method is to place dryer sheets in both pockets of the Backpack for a couple of nights; this will help absorb any odors present.

Things to avoid when washing your Backpack

-Don’t wash your Backpack in the washing machine

-Don’t hang out on a clothesline or dryer to let it air dry, as this will stretch and damage the material.

-Do not place the interior of the bag in water. Hanging outside will cause color fade and potentially shrinkage.

-Do not use bleach or chlorine when cleaning.

-Do not put in the dryer on high heat as this will shrink and damage the fabric; instead, opt for low or no heat settings. Do not let clothesline your pack out in the sun to air dry either, but rather hang upside down with maximum airflow exposure allowing it to quickly and evenly dry.

-Do not place the interior of your Backpack in water, as this will damage any electronics or other personal belongings you have stored inside! To keep odors away, try putting dryer sheets into both pockets for a couple of nights to absorb smells before washing the bag.

If there are still some stubborn odors left after washing, sprinkle baking soda inside your bag and leave overnight before vacuuming in the morning! Avoid placing a Backpack inside the washing machine or dryer, but rather hang to dry with maximum airflow exposure. Do not use bleach or chlorine when cleaning either!

While it’s generally safe to wash backpacks without any issues, avoid putting them in the washer (it can damage waterproofing and cause shrinkage) or dryer (it can damage the material).

If there is still some odor left after washing, you can sprinkle baking soda inside your bag and leave it overnight. The next morning vacuum the powder up, and all smells will be gone! Another method is to place dryer sheets in both pockets of the Backpack for a couple of nights; this will help absorb any odors present.

Backpack Care Tips

It’s unavoidable that your bag will get worn down over time, but taking good care of it might extend its usefulness.

-Keep Water Out: Keep the rain out of your Backpack by using a rain cover when it’s storming outside.

-Stow Wet Clothes: If you work up an enormous sweat, stow wet clothes in a plastic bag to keep them from ruining anything else inside.

-Zip-Up All Pockets: Leaving things like keys or phones in backpacks with pockets unzipped is a recipe for disaster; keep everything secured with zippers.

-Spot Clean: It’s best to spot clean stains on the outside of your pack rather than subjecting it to a complete wash cycle – this can potentially damage waterproofing and lead to more extensive work later. If possible, take the Backpack somewhere that can do a deep clean so you can be sure it’s entirely ready for anything.

-Don’t Overstuff: Oversized backpacks are great, but if they’re stuffed to the brim with books or other heavy objects, they might cause damage over time. Try only putting in what you need and avoid packing things that don’t have much give – your bag should have a little room rather than being completely stuffed.

-Use Care When Cleaning: If you need to clean it, be sure not to use too much soap and only wash the Backpack if necessary – otherwise, opt for spot cleaning or letting it air dry outside, so mildew doesn’t become an issue!

Storing a Backpack

A backpack is meant to survive a beating. Hanging your bag from a hook or putting it on a chair or table is an excellent method to keep it daily.

-Hang Your Pack: Hanging a backpack from a hook is the best way to store it daily.

-Keep It in Storage Bag: When not in use for extended periods, pack up your bag and keep it inside its storage container with all buckles fastened, so nothing gets misplaced or damaged when not in use.

-Do Not Store It Wet: Never store a backpack that’s still wet; this will damage the material and ruin its shape – instead, try to find time after it has thoroughly dried out before stowing it away for any length of time.

-Do Not Store in Direct Sunlight: Leaving a backpack out in the sun for extended periods can cause damage to its material and warp it; keep it stored somewhere shady or indoors.

-Don’t Hang It From One Hook: Try not to hang your pack from one hook only as this will stretch out both straps over time – distribute weightOversized backpacks are great. Still, if they’re filled with heavy objects, it can cause damage over time. Try only putting in what you need and avoid packing things that don’t have much give – your bag should have a little room rather than being completely stuffed.

-Do Not Store Too Close to Heater: In the winter, avoid storing your Backpack anywhere near a heater as this will make the material brittle and damage it.

-Do Not Store in Basement: The dampness of a basement is not suitable for your Backpack – avoid storing there if possible.

Repairs

A ripped or damaged backpack is useless, especially if items fall out due to holes and broken zippers. Luckily there are ways to repair packs.

-Repair Velcro: A great way to fix a ripped or damaged backpack strap is by using velcro that matches the fabric color, stick it on, and use adhesive glue for an easy temporary solution – when you have more time, sew in replacement straps, so they’re even sturdier than before.

-Repair Zippers: Fixing a damaged zipper is incredibly easy; you don’t necessarily need to take the Backpack apart or buy replacement zips – all that’s required are small safety pins and adhesive glue (or if your Backpack has leather details as ours does, superglue works best). Stick one safety pin on either side of the metal clamp and slide it down so you can see where exactly to place your adhesive. Once the glue is applied, pull out the safety pin to keep things in place – when dry, remove any excess with a pair of tweezers.

-Sew Straps: If holes are tearing through backpack straps or they’re becoming loose, using a sturdy cotton thread and needle is the best way to keep them intact – stitch along either side of the strap until it holds its original shape.

-Use Duct Tape: If all else fails for backpack repairs, duct tape can be used as a temporary solution on straps or zippers that are frayed or damaged. Cut a large piece to cover the damaged area, press it down firmly, and then use scissors or a knife to trim off any excess.

-Use Clothesline: If you need to put holes in your backpack straps for whatever reason, try using an old clothesline as this will create evenly spaced stitching that won’t damage the material – attach it to the wall using screws and use a sharp pencil to draw gridlines across your straps.

-Use Patches: If you’re beyond repair, it’s time to get creative with patches – cut them into the shape of whatever type of backpack strap is needed (rectangular or triangular) and iron on for an instant fix that won’t budge.

-Use Shoe Goo: If you have small holes in your Backpack, try using shoe goo to cover them up – place a dot of it on each hole and use the tip of something pointy (like an old pen or pencil) to spread it out smoothly until dry.

Repairs are essential for any Backpack, especially when you’re using it daily. Suppose your zippers are broken, or the material is tearing out. In that case, there’s no need to throw away and buy an entirely new one – backpacks can be kept in excellent condition for much longer than expected with some DIY fixes and temporary solutions.

Related Articles:

How To Fix A Backpack Strap

How To Wash Osprey Backpack

How To Wash A North Face Backpack

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Z Hashan

Z Hashan

I’m Z Hashan, an entrepreneur, but more importantly (well, to me at least), a traveler.

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