How To Wash A Backpack? The Best 4 Steps!

Guide: How to wash a backpack? Dust, dirt, or stains – bags can get dirty quickly. Here, you can determine what you must consider when you want to wash your bag.

One backpack always accompanies us everywhere, whether shopping, hiking, city trip, or beach. Logically, this backpack has to go through a lot and needs a wash now and then.

We explain to you how you can best clean your backpack!

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Washing A Backpack

Washing A Backpack
How to wash a backpack? – Washing A Backpack / Image by Henning Sørby from Pixabay

Washing your backpack in the washing machine

If your backpack is suitable, you can wash it in the washing machine.

  • First, check how and at what temperatures your backpack may be getting washed in the washing machine. You will usually find a corresponding note inside your bag.
  • If machine washing is possible, you should check whether there are any items left inside the backpack. Clean everything out and turn it upside down once with the compartments open. Then knock it out.
  • Put the backpack with open compartments into an old pillowcase and knot the ends. Then put the bag in the machine and wash it at low temperatures around 30 to 40 degrees. Follow the instructions on the tag and use a mild detergent.
  • Let the backpack air-dry afterward. Never put it in the dryer!

Tip: When the backpack is dry, you can also apply an impregnation spray, and it gives your pack better protection against rain and dirt.

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Washing your backpack by hand

If you cannot machine wash your backpack or are unsure, it is best to wash it by hand. That’s the way to do it:

  1. Place the backpack in the bathtub and fill it with lukewarm water.
  2. Add a little mild detergent or PH-neutral shampoo and leave it to work for about two hours. Rub the detergent into the fabric of the backpack to remove particularly stubborn dirt.
  3. Then rinse the backpack with clean water and make sure you remove all the detergent or shampoo.
  4. After washing, it is best to dry the backpack in the fresh air.

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Can the backpack be washed in the washing machine?

Can the backpack be washed in the washing machine
How to wash a backpack? – Can the backpack be washed in the washing machine? / Image by RachelBostwick from Pixabay

A hiking backpack or trekking backpack never belongs in the washing machine to answer a frequently asked question regarding dirty bags in advance. Not even with 30°C laundries, cold laundry, and mild detergent. 

We explained above how to wash it with a washing machine for those who resist doing so. There are always specialists who spread such tips in outdoor forums, but we strongly advise against it. In the best case, only the coating or parts of the backpack will break. In the worst case, the washing machine gives up the ghost. The same applies to dry bags in the dryer; they are also taboo.

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Complete hand washing of backpacks

Complete hand washing of backpacks
How to wash a backpack? – Complete hand washing of backpacks / Image by HomeMaker from Pixabay

We can hardly avoid thorough washing in case of heavy slush contamination while cycling or after a long trekking tour. After the backpack has dried, remove the coarse dirt with a broad brush. 

Dried earth can be removed well to a large extent. If this is not enough, the brush can also be getting moistened a little to loosen the dirt. 

Clean the first soiled interior with the opening facing down and shaken out or vacuumed with a vacuum cleaner. We can then wipe off more stubborn dirt with a damp sponge cloth.

If brushing doesn’t bring the desired cleanliness of the backpack, we can use special textile detergents

Conventional household detergents are usually too aggressive for cleaning the backpack and can attack the material. The unique textile detergent can be getting used in two different ways:

  • To clean particular areas – mix the detergent with lukewarm water according to the dosage instructions and clean the affected areas with a sponge or brush.
  • Soak the backpack thoroughly in a washing tub or bathtub and clean the heavily soiled area by hand with a brush. If the bag has a removable carrying frame, this should be getting removed before washing.

In case of leaking water bottles, react as quickly as possible and absorb and clean the liquid as best as possible with a sponge or cloth. 

Depending on the drink, unsightly stains may remain on the backpack. Therefore, you should soak and clean the bag as soon as possible with textile detergent, as described above. 

We can complicate cleaning if the thermos bottle contents with tea or coffee have dried up correctly, and the same applies to juices and other sticky soft drinks.

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Complete or partial cleaning backpack?

Complete or partial cleaning backpack
How to wash a backpack? – Complete or partial cleaning backpack? / Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Many hikers never wash their backpacks; others wash them once a year, and others clean them when it needs to do it. Hikers may often have soiled shoulder straps, hip fins, and back areas, depending on the use and intensity. 

The areas soiled by sweat and sunscreen are often stained and smell unpleasant. It helps clean the shoulder straps and the back with a mild detergent at regular intervals and rinse them well.

Trekking backpacks or bicycle backpacks are getting soiled by dust and swirled-up dirt. Regular brushing from the outside helps best. At least once a year, a full bath and intensive cleaning is highly getting recommended. 

For seasonal use, proper storage is also essential. The backpack should be completely dry and stored in a dry and well-ventilated place. Otherwise, storage in musty cellars may result in mold stains, mildew, and a musty odor.

The leaked soup and most other liquids should be wiped up the roughest part on the spot and dry the backpack provisionally with hankies or an additional T-shirt. 

For a day trip, the backpack should be soaked and cleaned the same evening. You can improvise with mild soap and water for tours lasting several days.

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Drying backpacks after hand washing

Drying backpacks after hand washing
How to wash a backpack? – Drying backpacks after hand washing / Image by analogicus from Pixabay

After soaking and brushing, we must first rinse the backpack thoroughly. It’s best to get it done in the bathtub or shower with a hand shower and lukewarm water. 

We must rinse out any dirt and soap residues very thoroughly in any case, and especially the foam parts should be squeezed out several times so that no detergent residues remain in the foam.

Then hang the backpack upside down to dry. It is best to keep all pockets and zippers open so that the water can run off and drip off everywhere. The backpack should be hung up for optimal drying in the shade in the fresh air. 

This way, it will smell incredibly fresh and not be damaged by UV radiation during drying. It is best to dry the backpack in warm and windy air.

Depending on the backpack and the outside temperature, the drying process can take some time. If small bags or other hard-to-reach places do not want to dry, you can help yourself with absorbent clothes or newspapers, and these places stuff for a few hours and absorb most of the liquid. 

It is not advisable to consider using a hairdryer for drying, nor is it advisable to put your backpack on the turned-up heater. Both can damage the material because it renders the bag unusable.

See Also: How To Dry Felt?

Backpack care after washing

How to care after washing the backpack
How to wash a backpack? – How to care about washing the backpack? / Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Depending on how intensive the backpack cleaning is, it helps to lubricate the zippers with silicone spray and make them more common. 

Besides, the backpack should be impregnated from time to time from the outside so that water drops or dirt particles roll off the surface, and you don’t always have to put the rain cover on right away. 

The material does not get soaked with water, and the backpack does not get more massive.

Also, the backpack lasts longer, and the dirt does not stick to the bag, which means that the pack needs to wash less often since that washing machines and dryers are taboo for cleaning backpacks

Another critical hint; please do not iron the bag after washing it because this is also supposed to happen, and the material does not tolerate it.

When checking the zippers and refreshing the impregnation, you should check the backpack for slight damage to the seams and material. 

The earlier you can detect minor damage on a seam, the faster and easier it can be getting repaired. On a long tour, it is usually a little more complicated.

See Also: Washing Towels Properly

Care of backpack zippers, velcro tapes, and Co.

Care of backpack zippers, velcro tapes, and Co.
How to wash a backpack? – Care of backpack zippers, velcro tapes, and Co. / Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

All fasteners, lashing straps, and adjustment options in a backpack are getting exposed to constant mechanical stress. For this reason, it’s vital to give these parts a little fresh cell treatment in due course.

Over time, external contamination and material abrasion can cause zippers to run poorly or even jam. You can solve this issue relatively quickly with standard silicone spray. 

It can easily be getting applied to the zipper or its slide. Opening and closing the backpack several times will spread evenly and make sure that the zipper runs smoothly again. 

Note not to apply too much. It is also advisable to clean the zipper with a clean cloth after a short exposure and remove excess material.

The Velcro fasteners also accumulate all kinds of dust and fluff over time. The worse the dirt is, the worse the closure will ultimately hold. But even here, you can find remedies easily, quickly, and effectively. 

A small brush like a toothbrush has proven very useful; we can comb all particles out of the Velcro again.

Lashing straps and adjusting devices also become sluggish over time and can get stuck after many use. A more extended bath can remedy this in lukewarm water. In this way, we loosen deep-seated impurities, and the straps supple again.

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Renew impregnation of the backpack

Renew impregnation of the backpack
How to wash a backpack? – Renew impregnation of the backpack / Image by rottonara from Pixabay

Backpacks are rarely really waterproof, so protecting the contents with a rain cover in bad weather is advisable. Nevertheless, many bags are slightly getting impregnated to make them waterproof to splash water and dust. 

But even this protection gradually decreases due to external influences. We can quickly restore the protective layer with a commercially available spray impregnation. 

However, apply it to areas outside of the storage system, as otherwise, people with sensitive skin may become irritated.

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Storing backpack the right way

How to store the right way of the backpack
How to wash a backpack? – How to store the right way of the backpack? / Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The first step to longevity is the correct storage and keeping of the backpack. Never squeeze or bend the bag unnecessarily. Ideally, store the gear empty in a dark, well-ventilated room. 

Strong temperature fluctuations, such as those found in a car or an uninsulated attic, can damage the material and cause premature aging. 

If a backpack is carelessly stacking with other equipment on a shelf or cupboard, excessive transverse loading can cause undesirable deformation of the carrying system.

See Also: How To Clean Rubber Products?


We expressly do not recommend cleaning in a washing machine! Mechanical abrasion can harm the material, and aggressive detergents can damage the water-repellent coating of the material.

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Last Updated on 23/03/2022 by Buzz This Viral