How To Clean Your Backpack [Complete Walkthrough]

Backpacks can be your best traveling buddy, your carrier of gym clothes, or a fashion statement all by itself.

No matter the purpose your backpack serves, life is tough whenever you are outside without your backpack that keeps all your necessities within your reach.

Many people spend a fortune on high-quality backpacks for the multi-purpose service that they offer.

That is why it is of utmost importance that you take good care of your bag and wash it every once in a while.

To make your life easier, we are here with our thorough guide on how to clean your backpack.

And no need to worry about purchasing expensive equipment to clean your backpack; you can easily clean it with conveniently cheap household items.

How Often Should You Clean Your Backpack?

how often to wash backpack

Even with frequent use, you won’t have to clean your bag more than once a year. You can have your bag smelling clean and crisp by wiping it down and disinfecting it twice every month.

As for machine cleaning or deep cleaning, make sure to check the label to see if the product can go through machine cleaning.

For deep cleaning, you can machine wash it with precautions once every couple of years.

How to Clean Your Backpack?

cleaning backpack

Let’s get right to the steps that will help you keep your backpack spotless so you can make the most out of your investment over the years!

  • Read The Labels

Almost every backpack comes with a label that states which washing method is ideal for your gear.

By reading the label, you can find necessary information like whether you can machine wash the backpack or not, whether it is dryer-friendly or not, etc.

If the label happens to be torn, hard to read, or in an entirely different language, you can look up the bag’s material to find out which method to use for cleaning the backpack.

For instance, you can never soak backpacks made out of leather into the water as exposure to water ruins the material.

  • Empty The Pockets

If you see a visible layer of dust over the backpack, brush off the dust. Then open up every pocket and compartment in your bag to empty the entire thing before starting the cleaning process.

You can even turn the pockets inside out to make sure you remove even the tiniest objects, such as paperclips.

Also, if you have any accessories attached to your backpack, be it a water bottle, tiny plushies, or keychain, make sure to remove it before you move on to further steps below.

Some backpacks have removable compartments, so before you start cleaning, make sure that you have detached those parts too.

  • Decide Whether You Need To Wipe Or Wash The Backpack

Once you have removed every attachment, you need to figure out whether your backpack needs a gentle wipe down or a wash.

If it has been over three months since you last cleaned your bag, you can go for washing your backpack.

You can opt for cleaning with sponges or wipes if it has been less than a month, as frequent washes will wear out the backpack material much sooner than you expect.

  • Wipe The Surface Of The Backpack

First, choose a gentle liquid detergent that won’t affect the color or texture of your backpack. You can easily find these stored in the aisles of your nearest supermarkets. Now you need to grab a cleaning sponge and soak it in lukewarm water.

Use a few drops of the detergent liquid on the sponge and get started on wiping the outer area of your backpack.

Make sure that you gently wipe down every nook and cranny of your packing gear. Once you are done cleaning the outside of the backpack, you can start wiping the inside using the same method.

You will need to grab a dry cloth or rag and wipe the entire rucksack to make sure there is no residue of water or soap inside it.

After that, you can air-dry your backpack straight away.

On a side note, if you can not find gentle liquid detergent in nearby stores, you can always use liquid dishwashing soap instead.

It works just as effectively and will also keep your backpack smelling fresh.

  • Remove Stains

If you find some spots on the surface that you need to treat or visible dirt caked around the handles, you might want to invest in a stain cleaner.

There are many options for backpack cleaning soaps in the market if you are looking for a cleaner made for this purpose. However, any low PH cleaning agent that is safe for clothes can be used to remove stains.

If you opt for the latter option, you can always make your own backpack cleaning solution by combining equal parts of mild detergent and water.

Once you have made your solution, pour the solution directly over the stain or spot. Let it sit for at least five minutes before you start rubbing away at the stain with brushes that help clean clothes.

Wash off the soapy residue with lukewarm water once you have successfully removed the stain.

Also, you do not need to soak or wash the entire bag if you only need to take care of a specific stain.

Just removing the stain and wiping down the rest of the pack will be more than enough.

  • Wash The Backpack

As most backpacks can withstand hand washing, you can wash your bag manually. ┬áSometimes the label instructions recommend hand-washing, in which case, it’s the only way to go.

You will have to make a cleaning solution by adding drops of mild detergent or liquid dish soap in a sink or tub filled with water.

Also, you have to make sure beforehand the sink is large enough to submerge the entire bag into the soapy rinse at once.

Now you should soak your bag in the soapy water for at least half an hour.

Then you can use a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush to gently brush away caked dirt or stains from the zippers and straps. You do not need to scrub the rest of the backpack unless you want to clean a spot or a stain.

Brushing the entire backpack might be harsh for delicate clothes and might ruin the fabric.

Once you are done, it is now the time to move on to air drying your bag.

  • Air Dry Your Backpack

Once you have wiped down your backpack or washed it, you can move on to air drying the bag. You can use a hanger for this purpose if it effectively supports your rucksack.

Drape the handles over the hanger upside down and leave the bag to air dry. If the bag is leaking too much water over the floor, you can use an old towel to soak up the excess water.

Just wrap the towel around your backpack and gently press it so the towel can soak up the water.

Remember that you should never twist or squeeze the backpack to drain the water, as this method might damage or misshape the structure of your object and ruin it in the process.

You should also be careful not to place it right below sunlight and let it dry under a well-ventilated shade instead.

After your backpack has dried up completely, you can then visibly notice the benefits of a freshly cleaned bag that smells as good as a new one!

How To Clean A Backpack In A Washing Machine?

wash backpack in machine

If your backpack has been labeled as machine washable, you can throw it in the washer instead of washing it by hand.

However, make sure to use the gentle cleaning option in your washing machine as backpacks can not withstand the harsh cleaning cycles of washing machines.

You can also use a laundry bag or a mesh bag to soften the effects of the washing machine.

First, place the backpack inside the bag and then use a mild detergent to wash it in a machine. You should not wash multiple rucksacks or any other clothes alongside them at the same time.

This might lead to your backpack getting irregular patches of the colors of other fabrics and objects.

This method will definitely come in handy if you are looking for ways to deep clean your backpack if you have not cleaned your bag thoroughly once over the past couple of years.

However, you must be very mindful of how often you deep clean your backpack.

How To Clean A Backpack With A Vacuum Cleaner?

vacuum cleaner

Some materials of backpacks can be very delicate and therefore can only be cleaned with vacuum cleaners.

In this case, after emptying the backpack, you can use a vacuum with a nozzle to get rid of dirt.

Firstly, you need to set the vacuum cleaner to a low-power setting. Then you can use the nozzle to clean the inside of your backpack by thoroughly vacuuming it.

How To Disinfect A Backpack?

disinfecting the backpack

Ever since the devastating global pandemic, all of us are taking every measure possible to keep ourselves safe from the virus by thoroughly disinfecting every possession and our hands.

Disinfecting our backpack has become a crucial step since then as a safety measure against the virus as it is not possible to wash a bag too often.

This method of disinfecting also comes in handy if you happen to carry gym clothes in your backpack after working out, as the sweaty garments that have been left inside your backpack for days can allow germs to build up inside.

To get started, you can choose any variety of pine oil available on the market or use disinfectants safe for both clothes and metal objects to get rid of bacteria.

You should always check if the pine oil percentage is higher than 80 percent. Because pine oils made of lower concentrations can not kill germs as effectively.

Be careful not to use a disinfectant made with a high percentage of chlorine bleach, as this powerful chemical can ruin the color and material of your backpack.

You can also use disinfectant sprays if you are worried about evenly distributing the disinfectant over the backpack’s surface.

Once you have found your disinfectant of choice, grab a cloth and pour drops of oil or disinfectant on it. Then you can start gently wiping down both the inside and the outside of the backpack.

Before you start putting your possessions inside the disinfected backpack, make sure that you have disinfected the materials beforehand.

Mistakes To Avoid While Cleaning A Backpack

mistakes to avoid

Never use heavy-duty chemicals such as strong detergents, bleach, oven cleaners to clean your backpack.

Not even to wipe off the most stubborn stain as these chemicals can ruin the appearance of your knapsack in minutes.

Also, you should always check if your backpack label explicitly says that it is dryer friendly if you want to put it in the dryer.

However, we would suggest you avoid using dryers for backpacks at all costs. Because finding our trustworthy bag melted or ruined in the dryer is the last thing any of us wants to see.

Storing Backpacks

Once you are done cleaning, vacuuming, or disinfecting your backpack and ready to store it, make sure to keep it in a polythene bag or any bag that will protect it from dirt and insects.


Taking care of your backpack might be a hassle at times.

However, the comfort and the service a well-kept bag provides make all the hassles of cleaning and maintaining the object worth the trouble.

And now that you know how to clean your backpack, the entire process is made way easier for you.

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