How to Wash a Backpack: follow the GUIDE Step-by-Step

Washing a backpack might seem like a daunting task, but with our step-by-step guide, it’s easier than you think. In this article, we will walk you through the process of how to wash a backpack and leave it looking clean and fresh.

Whether your backpack has accumulated dirt from outdoor adventures or simply needs a refresh, our simple steps will ensure that your backpack is ready for its next adventure in no time. From preparing the necessary materials to properly cleaning different types of backpacks, we’ve got you covered. So let’s dive in and learn how to wash a backpack effectively!

Gather the necessary supplies

To effectively wash a backpack, you will need to gather a few essential supplies before getting started. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Warm water: Fill a basin or sink with warm water. This will help loosen dirt and grime from your backpack.
  2. Mild detergent: Choose a gentle detergent that is suitable for hand washing delicate fabrics. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as they may damage the material of your backpack.
  3. Soft-bristle brush: A soft-bristle brush or sponge will be handy for scrubbing away stubborn stains without causing any damage to the backpack’s surface.
  4. Clean towels: Keep some clean towels nearby to dry off your backpack after washing it.
  5. Old toothbrush: An old toothbrush can come in handy for cleaning hard-to-reach areas such as zippers, corners, and seams.
  6. Optional: Stain remover: If there are specific stains on your backpack that are difficult to remove with just detergent and water, consider using a stain remover specifically formulated for the fabric of your bag.
  7. Clothespins or hangers: Once washed, you’ll need clothespins or hangers to hang your backpack up to dry properly.

Having these supplies ready beforehand will ensure that you have everything necessary when it’s time to clean your backpack thoroughly and efficiently.

Empty and Prepare the Backpack

To properly wash a backpack, it’s important to first empty and prepare it. Follow these steps:

  1. Empty the Contents: Remove all items from your backpack. Check each pocket or compartment to ensure nothing is left inside.
  2. Shake off Excess Dirt: Give your backpack a good shake outdoors to remove any loose dirt or debris.
  3. Inspect for Stains or Spills: Look for any stains, spills, or sticky spots on both the interior and exterior of the backpack.
  4. Remove Removable Parts (if applicable): If your backpack has removable parts like straps, hip belts, or frames, detach them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Check Care Label Instructions: Before proceeding with washing, check if there are specific care label instructions provided by the manufacturer. These instructions may vary based on material type and construction.
  6. Brush Off Loose Debris: Use a soft-bristled brush or cloth to gently brush off any remaining dirt or dust particles from both the interior and exterior surfaces of the backpack.
  7. Spot Clean Stains (if necessary): For small stains that don’t require full immersion in water, spot clean using mild detergent mixed with water as per product instructions.
  8. Prepare Washing Solution: Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of gentle laundry detergent suitable for delicate fabrics.
  9. Test Colorfastness (optional): If you’re unsure about color bleeding issues, test an inconspicuous area of your backpack by dabbing some diluted detergent solution onto it using a clean cloth.

10 . Soak Backpack in Sudsy Water: Place your empty backpack into the prepared washing solution and let it soak for about 15-20 minutes.

11 . Gently Agitate: Gently agitate the backpack in the water by swishing it around to loosen any dirt or grime.

12 . Rinse Thoroughly: After soaking, drain the soapy water and rinse the backpack thoroughly with clean lukewarm water until no soap residue remains.

13 . Squeeze Out Excess Water: Gently squeeze out excess water from your backpack. Avoid wringing or twisting as this may damage its shape and fabric.

14 . Air Dry Completely: Hang your backpack in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight to air dry completely. Make sure all pockets are open for faster drying.

Remember, these steps will help you prepare your backpack for washing effectively, ensuring optimal cleaning results without causing any damage to its material or construction.

Spot clean any stains or dirt

To keep your backpack looking fresh and clean, it’s important to spot clean any stains or dirt that may have accumulated over time. Here are some simple steps to follow:

  1. Identify the stain: Take a close look at your backpack and identify any visible stains or spots of dirt. This will help you determine the best cleaning method.
  2. Pre-treat the stain: Before getting started, pre-treat the stained area by gently rubbing a small amount of mild detergent onto it. Allow the detergent to sit for a few minutes to loosen up the stain.
  3. Scrub with a soft brush: Using a soft-bristled brush, gently scrub the stained area in circular motions. Be careful not to scrub too vigorously as this could damage the material of your backpack.
  4. Rinse with warm water: Once you’ve thoroughly scrubbed the stain, rinse off all traces of detergent by running warm water over it. Make sure to remove all soap residue from both inside and outside of your backpack.
  5. Air dry properly: After rinsing, hang your backpack in an airy location away from direct sunlight and heat sources until completely dry. Avoid using a dryer as high temperatures can warp or shrink certain materials.
  6. Repeat if necessary: If stubborn stains persist after one round of spot cleaning, repeat steps 2-5 until they are fully removed.

Remember: Different materials require different cleaning methods! Always check manufacturer instructions before attempting to remove tough stains on delicate fabrics like leather or suede.

Pre-soak the backpack

To ensure a thorough cleaning of your backpack, it’s essential to pre-soak it before washing. This step helps to loosen dirt, remove stains, and eliminate any unpleasant odors that may have accumulated over time. Follow these simple steps to pre-soak your backpack effectively:

  1. Empty the contents: Before starting the pre-soaking process, make sure to empty all items from your backpack’s pockets and compartments. Check every nook and cranny to avoid damaging any personal belongings during cleaning.
  2. Spot clean if necessary: If you notice any visible stains or spills on your backpack’s surface, take a damp cloth or sponge and gently spot clean those areas before proceeding with the pre-soaking process.
  3. Fill a basin or sink with warm water: Choose a basin or sink large enough to comfortably fit your entire backpack without causing excessive folding or cramming. Fill it with warm water; not too hot but not too cold either – just lukewarm will do.
  4. Add gentle detergent: Add a small amount of mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics into the warm water-filled basin/sink. Be cautious not to use harsh chemicals as they may damage certain materials used in making backpacks.
  5. Stir well until suds form: Stir the mixture vigorously until soapy suds start forming on top of the water surface.
  6. Immerse the backpack: Carefully place your empty backpack into the soapy water solution, ensuring it is fully submerged beneath the surface.
  7. Let it soak for 15-30 minutes: Allow your backpack to soak undisturbed for approximately 15-30 minutes depending on how dirty it is and what material it’s made of (check manufacturer guidelines if available).
  8. Scrub lightly (if needed): If there are stubborn spots that didn’t come off during soaking alone, use a soft brush or sponge to gently scrub those areas. Avoid excessive pressure that may cause damage.
  9. Drain the soapy water: After the pre-soaking period, remove your backpack from the basin/sink and let the soapy water drain away completely.
  10. Rinse thoroughly with clean water: Rinse your backpack under running tap water or use another basin/sink filled with clean water to eliminate any remaining soap residue until the water runs clear.
  11. Gently squeeze out excess water: Once rinsed, press lightly on different sections of your backpack to remove as much excess moisture as possible without wringing it forcefully.

Now that you have successfully pre-soaked your backpack, you are ready for the next step in our comprehensive guide: “How to Wash a Backpack.”

Hand wash or machine wash?

When it comes to washing a backpack, you have the option of hand washing or using a machine. Both methods can effectively clean your backpack, but there are some factors to consider before deciding which one is right for you. Here’s a comparison between hand wash and machine wash:

Hand Wash

Hand washing your backpack allows for more control over the cleaning process and is generally gentler on delicate fabrics or materials. Follow these steps when hand washing your backpack:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water.
  2. Add mild detergent suitable for delicate fabrics.
  3. Submerge the backpack in the soapy water.
  4. Gently scrub any stained areas using a soft brush or sponge.
  5. Pay extra attention to straps, zippers, and pockets.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with clean water until no soap residue remains.
  7. Squeeze out excess water without wringing the fabric.

Pros of Hand Washing:

  • More gentle on delicate materials
  • Allows targeted cleaning of stains
  • Less risk of damage from machines

Cons of Hand Washing:

  • Requires more time and effort
  • May not be as thorough as machine washing
  • Difficult to control temperature consistency

Machine Wash

Machine washing offers convenience and efficiency when cleaning your backpack but may not be suitable for all types of bags due to potential damage risks involved. Consider the following points if you decide to go ahead with machine washing:

  1. Check the care label on your backpack first – some may specify that they are not suitable for machine-washing.
  2. Empty all pockets and remove any detachable parts (such as frames) if possible.

Dry the Backpack Thoroughly

After washing your backpack, it is crucial to dry it thoroughly to prevent mold and mildew growth. Here are some steps you can follow to ensure your backpack dries properly:

  1. Shake off Excess Water: Start by shaking the backpack gently to remove any excess water from the surface.
  2. Towel Dry: Use a clean towel or absorbent cloth to pat-dry the exterior of the backpack. Make sure you pay extra attention to areas that tend to hold more moisture, such as zippers, pockets, and straps.
  3. Air Drying: Hang your backpack in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources that could potentially damage its materials. It’s best to hang it upside down using a hook or clothesline so that air can circulate both inside and outside of the bag.
  4. Open All Compartments: Open all compartments, pockets, and zippers on your backpack while drying. This will help air circulate better inside each section and contribute to faster drying.
  5. Use Fans or Dehumidifiers (Optional): If you want to speed up the drying process further, you can place fans near your hanging backpack or use a dehumidifier in the room where it is being dried.
  6. Check for Moisture Regularly: During the drying process, periodically check for any signs of remaining moisture on both the interior and exterior of your backpack. If you notice any dampness, continue drying until completely dry.

Remember that rushing this step may lead to unpleasant odors or potential damage due to trapped moisture within fabrics or padding layers of your pack – take care not only during cleaning but also while ensuring proper drying before storing it again!

By following these simple steps for thorough drying after washing your backpack, you’ll maintain its cleanliness while prolonging its lifespan!

Reassemble and Store

After thoroughly cleaning your backpack, it’s time to reassemble it and make sure it is stored correctly. Follow these steps to ensure your backpack stays in good condition:

  1. Dry the Backpack: Before you start reassembling, allow your backpack to air dry completely. Hang it upside down in a well-ventilated area or use a drying rack.
  2. Inspect the Zippers: Check all the zippers on your backpack for any dirt or debris that may have been missed during the cleaning process. If needed, use a small brush or toothbrush to remove any remaining particles.
  3. Reattach Straps and Buckles: Once the backpack is dry, reattach any detachable straps or buckles that were removed before cleaning. Make sure they are securely fastened but not overly tightened.
  4. Organize Pockets and Compartments: Put back all items into their respective pockets and compartments according to how you prefer them organized. This will help you easily find things when you need them later.
  5. Avoid Overstuffing: It’s important not to overstuff your backpack as this can put strain on its seams and zippers, leading to potential damage over time. Distribute weight evenly throughout different compartments instead.
  6. Store in a Clean, Dry Place: Find an appropriate storage location for your clean and dry backpack where it won’t be exposed to excessive moisture or extreme temperatures that could cause damage over time.
  7. Consider Using Storage Accessories: To maintain shape and protect delicate materials of your backpack during storage, consider using accessories like stuff sacks or garment bags specifically designed for this purpose.

Remember, proper care and maintenance of your backpack will extend its lifespan and keep it ready for future adventures!


In conclusion, washing a backpack is a simple process that can help prolong its lifespan and keep it looking clean and fresh. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can ensure that your backpack remains in good condition for years to come.

Remember to always check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer before attempting to wash your backpack. This will help you determine whether it is safe to machine wash or if hand washing is recommended. Additionally, be sure to remove any detachable parts or items from the backpack before cleaning.

Start by spot cleaning any stains or spills using a mild detergent and a soft brush. Then, proceed with either hand washing or machine washing depending on the material of your backpack. Finally, allow it to air dry completely before storing or using again.

Regularly cleaning your backpack not only helps maintain its appearance but also ensures hygiene as dirt and bacteria can accumulate over time. By incorporating this simple maintenance routine into your schedule, you’ll be able to enjoy a clean and well-maintained backpack whenever you need it for your adventures!