How to Clean Backpacks

1. How to Clean Your Backpack by Hand

clean backpack by handThe must-have and vital backpack—we can’t live without them. It serves many purposes for youngsters, students, business people, campers, hikers, and those who travel. As with anything else made of fabric, these too will become dirty from food, moisture, and just handling them. They become stinky and dirty. They can be hand washed and machine washed, but no dryer.

  1. Take everything out of your backpack. Turn it inside out and shake it to remove debris in the corners, on the bottom, and in the pockets. Leave all the pockets unzipped. Clean the contents while you have the stuff out.

  2. Use a damp cloth to remove outside dust and dirt. If your backpack has a frame, remove it and wipe it down. Remove any detachable straps or pockets held together with Velcro®. Clean them one by one. Cut loose threads that can get into the zipper stopping it from smoothly gliding.

  3. Always check the care instructions on the label inside or outside attached to a seam. If you cut out the label or it never had one, do a spot test to check how cleaning products work.

  4. Use a stain pretreatment remover without bleach and an old soft toothbrush to lightly scrub the area. Alternatively, you can use dish detergent and a little water for pretreating and let it sit for a half hour.

  5. Using your bathtub, large kitchen sink, laundry sink, plastic tub, or zinc tub, fill it with warm water. Don’t use hot water since it causes fabrics to shrink and colors to bleed. If you soak any brilliant colored fabric in cold salt water for a half hour, colors will not bleed. Either the care label or manufacturer’s instructions will tell you if you can submerge the backpack into water. If unknown, you will have to spot clean the dirty areas with a sponge and soft brush, rinse, and air dry.

  6. Use fragrance-free laundry detergent or dish detergent in warm water.

  7. Gently scrub your backpack with a sponge and soft brush either putting it in water or doing specific areas. Do not use a brush on fragile mesh areas or pockets. A soft toothbrush is good for corners.

  8. Rinse all the soap out in cold water. Warm water makes it suds up again. Let it drip dry in the tub or shower, or outside from a clothes line or tree branch. You can also block it on a large towel to absorb moisture. If you wring the bag, it can keep the wrinkles and damage straps, foam, and zippers.

  9. Let your backpack dry naturally in the sun or shade. It will take a day or two to dry completely. Do not put it in a clothes dryer. Be sure it is totally dry before storing or using again. If damp, it can cause mold and mildew to grow with bacteria as well.

  10. If mold does develop, use the instructions above for tent cleaning to get rid of it.

2. How to Clean Your Backpack in the Washing Machine

Clean Backpack by MachineFollow the preparation instructions above removing all items inside your backpack and dusting it off.

  1. Put your backpack in a zippered mesh laundry bag or a pillow case pinned together at the ends. Put it in the washer. To eliminate the washer from going out of balance and bumping, add some old towels or rags.

  2. Add a capful of liquid detergent the same as for regular laundry.

  3. Use cold water to prevent colors from bleeding on the gentle cycle. Let it go through the entire cycle, remove, line dry, or block on a large towel.

Final Thoughts

We hope the information here will help you keep your backpacks clean and fresh for many years to come.

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