How to Wash a Backpack in the Washing Machine? (Easy Steps)

It’s important to keep your backpack clean, whether it’s a Nike or Adidas.

The accumulation of stains and spills just builds up over time and makes the backpack look worn out and old.

Let’s be honest, backpacks can get dirty real quick and may be difficult to clean as well, especially because of the material they are made of.

The zips and the waterproofing fabrics do not make washing any easy as well.

However, with care and by following the below steps, you can wash your backpack without OR with a washing machine safely.

After reading this article you will know how to clean a backpack safely without damaging them.

Here’s what this article covers.

Can You Put a Backpack In the Washer?

Most backpacks can be washed in the washing machine using mild detergent, but it’s not recommended if the bag is made from nylon or any other water-resistant material.

If your backpack is made from leather or water repellent materials, check the care label before washing it in the machine.

To be on the safer side, use cold wash water and a delicate cycle to avoid damaging the backpack.

Be sure to turn your backpack inside out if you are machine washing them.

What type of detergent should be used to wash the backpack?

If your backpack is machine-washable, you can use any type of detergent that suits your washer. Just make sure that the detergent being used is bleach-free.

However, if your backpack is not machine-washable, you should use a mild detergent and hand-wash your backpack.

It’s recommended to wash your backpack in cold water on the gentle or delicate cycle of your washing machine.

How To Wash A Backpack?

There are two ways to wash a backpack.

One is to put it in the washing machine and the other is to wash it by hand.

If you have a large backpack, it may not fit in your washing machine. In this case, you will need to wash it by hand.

Let us take a quick look at the supplies needed to wash the bag followed by both methods of washing.

Supplies for Cleaning Your Backpack

To clean your backpack, you will need:

  • Warm water
  • A soft brush OR toothbrush
  • Stain Remover
  • A sink or tub
  • A mild detergent
  • A towel
  • A clothesline or drying rack
  • Washing Machine (If you are machine washing the bag)

Let’s take a quick look at both methods.

Method 1: How to wash a backpack by hand?

Even though the backpack bags are sturdy, some backpack manufacturers recommend only dry cleaning OR Hand Wash.

So, before deciding on the approach OR the method to wash the backpack, take a look at the care label thoroughly.

You may want to wash the backpack by hand if the care label says so.

Follow the below steps to hand wash your backpack

Step 1: Fill the Tub with Water

In order to wash your backpack without a washing machine, you will need to fill the sink or tub with warm water.

And depending on how dirty your backpack is, you may want to add a small amount of mild detergent.

Then, swish the water around to mix in the detergent.

Step 2: Submerge the backpack

Place your backpack in the water and allow it to soak for a few minutes.

This will help loosen any dirt or grime that is on the backpack.

Step 3: Gently Scrub

Use a soft brush OR toothbrush to gently scrub the backpack.

And be sure to focus on any areas that look particularly dirty.

Step 4: Rinse using clean water

Rinse the backpack thoroughly with clean water.

You may need to rinse it several times to remove all of the soapy residues.

Step 5: Use a towel to blot

Next, Use a towel to remove any excess water from the backpack.

Simply take a dry towel and blot the backpack until it’s no longer dripping wet.

Step 6: Hang to dry

After that, you can either hang it up to dry on a clothesline OR depending on the fabric you may use a dryer on low heat and delicate spin settings.

Note: Cleaning with harsh chemicals or using rough procedures could damage your backpack and destroy its water-repellent properties. Therefore it’s important to pay attention to what the care label says.

Method 2: How to wash a backpack in the washing machine?

If your backpack is starting to look a little dirty, you can wash it in the washing machine.

First, check for any stains and treat them with a stain remover. Then, put the backpack in a laundry bag or pillowcase and wash it on a gentle cycle.

Next, Scrub the backpack with a toothbrush if needed. Let the backpack sit for about 30 minutes before putting it back on.

Detailed Procedure to wash in the washing machine

Step 1: Remove the Crumbs, Dirt and Dust

Before you put your backpack in the machine it’s important that you

Step 2: Pre-Treat the Stains

If the bag is heavily stained, first wash off the stains by pre-treating them.

In order to pre-treat, use a soft brush and a gentle stain remover.

Simply spot clean the stained areas before you put your backpack in the washer.

Step 3: Put the Backback in a Mesh Laundry Bag

Next, put the backpack in a washing machine.

You can either turn the backpack inside out OR place it inside a pillowcase OR laundry bag.

The Mesh Laundry Bag or Pillowcase helps to prevent straps and zippers from getting caught in the machine.

Step 4: Add Detergent

Use a small amount of mild detergent.

Step 5: Set the Washing Machine

Now, set the washing machine to a gentle/delicate cycle and select the water temperature as cold.

Here are the ideal settings to wash your backpack in the washing machine.

  • Water Temperature: Cold
  • Spin Speed: Low
  • Soil Level: Medium
  • Pre-Wash: Not Required if pre-treated
  • Wash Type: Delicate/Gentle

Step 5: Run the Wash Cycle

Hit the start button and run your washing machine on a gentle cycle

Step 6: Rinse Cycle

If you are operating an automatic washing machine, this step should be taken care of automatically, however, you may need to run the extra rinse cycle if notice any leftover detergent residues.

Step 7: Dry the Backpack

Place the clean backpack in a well-ventilated area to air dry.

It’s best to allow them to dry naturally by hanging them on a clothesline or drying rack.

If you are using a dryer, make sure to put it in the delicate/low heat setting.

Note: Check the care label before putting your backpack in the dryer.

Treating Stains on a Backpack

If your backpack gets a stain on it, spot clean them by rinsing it off with mild soapy detergent and water as soon as possible.

Next, use a clean dry towel or sponge to blot the exterior and interior.

The last step is to wipe down the entire backpack with wipes or a damp cloth to remove the dirt and dust.

Note: Always use cold OR lukewarm water and laundry detergent, and be sure to wring it out completely dry. If the stain is still there after spot cleaning, you may need to either machine wash it OR take it to the dry cleaners.

How to Wash Backpack Straps?

To wash backpack straps, first, remove them from the backpack.

Then, use a toothbrush to scrub any dirt or debris from the straps.

Next, Rinse the straps with water and then apply a small amount of laundry detergent.

Now, Scrub the straps with the detergent and then rinse them again.

Allow the straps to air dry or use a towel to dry them off before reattaching them to the backpack.

How do you clean a leather backpack?

To clean a leather backpack, you’ll need to make sure it’s completely dry before you start.

If there’s any odor, you can try using a mild soap or detergent on a damp cloth.

You can also try using a leather conditioner to help keep the backpack in good condition.

Can You Put a Backpack In the Dryer?

Yes, you can put your backpack in the dryer, but there are some things to keep in mind.

Backpacks are not typically made of materials that can withstand high heat, so if you put your backpack in the dryer on a high heat setting, it could damage the backpack or cause it to shrink.

It’s best to dry your backpack naturally or in a low heat setting.

Also, make sure the backpack is completely dry before storing it away, otherwise, mold and mildew could thrive.

How to Remove Mold from a Backpack?

To remove mold from a backpack, rinse the backpack with clean water and then dry it in the sun.

If the mold is still present, mix a solution of one part bleach and three parts water and scrub the moldy areas with a brush.

Next, Rinse the backpack again with clean water and dry it in the sun.

If you are not comfortable using bleach, try using white vinegar or lemon juice.

Tips For Removing Backpack Smells

If your backpack smells bad, here are some tips for removing the odor:

  • Soak the backpack in warm water for 30 minutes or so and then scrub the backpack with a brush to remove any dirt or grime. With that said, remember that your backpack isn’t a normal fabric, therefore it’s recommended not to be too harsh when scrubbing. Applying excess pressure will scratch the top layer, thereby taking away the waterproofing capabilities.
  • Rinse the backpack well and ensure that you get rid of the detergent residues.
  • Always let it air dry.
  • Regularly clean your backpack so it looks new.
  • Don’t put any dirty items back into a clean backpack post wash.
  • Avoid storing food items unless absolutely necessary.

Final Thoughts

Over time, spills, moisture, and food items can make a backpack smell, therefore it’s important to keep your bag clean.

It is important to note that different types of backpacks require different cleaning instructions. Thus, it is highly recommended to go through the care label on the backpack first.

Not only the washing instructions but also the drying and caring tips are clearly mentioned in the care labels.

Using the wrong methods to dry or wash the backpack will shorten the lifespan and take away its water-resisting capacity.

With that said, it’s not as difficult to clean the bags as it initially looks, in fact, they are easy to clean if you follow the care label properly.

If in doubt, it’s always a safe bet to take your bag to a professional so that they look clean and new.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions related to backpacks that may be helpful.

Can Duffel Bag be washed in the Washing Machine?

You could, but it’s not recommended. The washing machine could damage the nylon fabric and the bag itself. If you still decide to wash your duffel bag in the washing machine, use cool water and gentle cycle settings on your washer. Lastly, don’t forget to use a laundry OR mesh bag for the safety of your bag.

Can You machine wash leather bags?

Yes, you can machine wash leather. Just use a mild soap and be sure to rinse it thoroughly afterward.

Is there a way you can clean a leather purse in a washing machine?

You can clean a leather purse in a washing machine by using a gentle detergent.

Can you wash the LV bag in a washing machine?

No, you should not wash LV bags in a washing machine as it could damage the bag. Instead, spot clean the bag with a damp cloth and a mild detergent. Allow the bag to air dry naturally.

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Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at)