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January 19, 2019 3 min read


Backpacks are essential for kids, students, and travelers carrying homework. Over time, food, moisture, and everyday wear and tear can make a backpack filthy and smelly. Luckily, most backpacks are built to endure everyday wear and tear, and they aren't that difficult to clean. Most backpacks can be washed in a regular washing machine using detergent, but others need to be hand-washed depending on the material they are made from. With some light cleaning products and a little bit of elbow grease, you can keep your bag clean, and hopefully extend its lifespan.

How to wash your backpack in a regular washing machine?


  1. Empty your backpack. Clear your backpack of any items that could be damaged by water while washing your backpack. To help clear out small debris and crumbs in the bottom of the backpack, try turning the backpack inside out and use a handheld vacuum to clean hard to reach nooks and crannies. Leave the backpack's pockets unzipped and open once you are finished vacuuming, so all areas of the bag can get cleaned during washing.

2.Prep your backpack for washing. Wipe off any loose dirt or dust from the outside of the bag. After the surface dirt is removed from the bag, use a damp cloth to wipe the bag again, clearing any more dirt or dust still remaining on the bag’s surface. This will ensure that no large, solid dirt mixes in with the water you intend to use for cleaning the bag.


3. Check the backpack care label. Almost every backpack has a label with care instructions for cleaning the bag. The care labels for backpacks usually have recommended information on washing and drying the bag, so you can clean your bag in the best way possible for the bag material and attachments while maintaining its features of sustainability – like remaining waterproof. You can find the care label inside of the backpack, normally in the biggest storage section along a side seam.

4. Pretreat any stains. Add any pre-treatment stain remover of your choice to any stained areas of the backpack, but avoid using bleach. Scrub away stain residue with a soft brush (an old toothbrush), and let the stain treatment sit for about 30 minutes. The stains should rinse right off when you actually wash the bag.

5. Wash the backpack. Place the backpack in an old pillowcase or laundry sack, and place the pillowcase/laundry sack with the backpack in the washing machine. Add a small amount (1-2 tbsp) of gentle detergent as the washer fills with water. Wash the backpack in cold or lukewarm water, using the washer’s delicate or gentle cycle. Once the cycle is finished, take the backpack out of its covering, and wipe down outside and inside compartments of the backpack.

6. Dry your backpack. Naturally dry the backpack outside or hanging up inside rather than drying it in a dryer. Allow the pockets to remain unzipped, so the bag can dry thoroughly and evenly.




  1. These instructions do not apply to backpacks made of leather, suede, and/or vinyl.
  2. These instructions also do not apply to internal or external frame camping backpacks.

      3. If your backpack is treated with a water repellent or fabric sealer (common on many nylon backpacks), washing it with soap and water may dissolve this sealant, which will also cause the nylon to look less shiny and new. You may buy a water repellent spray to treat fabric and reapply after your backpack has been cleaned



  1. Do not wash your backpack with other items the first time you wash it, as it may not be colorfast.
  2. If your backpack is very expensive, fancy, or of great sentimental value, you might prefer to get it professionally cleaned. Consult your dry cleaner for advice.
  3. If your backpack is colorful or has bright colors, don't dry it directly in the sun because the color may fade.
  4. If you have ink stains, you can use hairspray to surface them!
  5. Never use a tumble dryer to wash your pack because it will decrease/shrink as its suppose to increase/expand and never wash with it because of the pressure


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