How to Wash a Backpack


Keep your backpack looking back-to-school ready year round.

Grab your backpack and a fresh set of school supplies, because it’s back-to-school season! Nothing symbolizes a fresh start like a color coordinated set of notebooks and folders. As the year goes by, your notebooks will fill with notes–and your backpack might get a bit dingy. Not to worry though! You can keep your backpack looking brand new year-round with a bit of upkeep. Unlike your homework, it’s simple and quick to wash a backpack. Here’s how!

Clear Out Your Bag

First, make sure that your bag is empty. Make sure to check all the pockets for loose pens or change, which could cause an ink explosion or washing disaster. Open all of the pockets and shake it out over a trash can to be sure to remove any lingering scraps of paper or crumbs!

Can You Put a Backpack in the Washer?

While we always recommend checking your bag’s care label for specific instructions, many backpacks can be washed in a washing machine! If your bag is made of nylon or canvas, odds are it can be washed in the machine without a problem. (If it has leather trim, sequins, or other adornments, skip ahead to the hand washing section!)

How to Wash a Backpack in the Machine

We recommend placing your backpack in a mesh garment bag to protect it, and keep any straps or zippers from getting caught in the machine. Add a laundry detergent pod and run the machine on a gentle cycle. Canvas and nylon are pretty hardy fabrics, so we would recommend the Stain & Odor detergent pods to really give your bag a good scrub! You can also add an Oxi Booster Pod to tackle any stains. After the wash, hang your bag upside down and allow it to air dry. Tumble drying can damage the zippers or padding of your bag, so it's best to line-dry and let the sun do its thing!

How to Hand Wash a Backpack

Hand washing is the safest way to clean your backpack, especially if it has leather trim or other decorative elements. Fill a basin or bathtub with lukewarm water and add 1-2 pumps of Ultra Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent. Submerge the bag and scrub both the inside and outside using a Swedish Dishcloth, sponge, or Dish Brush (depending on how much scrubbing you need). Once your bag has been scrubbed to perfection, rinse it with clean cool water and allow it to air dry.

Follow these steps, and your backpack will look back-to-school ready year round. Happy Washing!