Can you put a backpack in the washer and dryer

Can you put a backpack in the washer and dryer

Yes, you can wash and dry most backpacks in a washing machine and clothes dryer, with some precautions:

  • Check the care tag on your backpack to see if the manufacturer recommends machine washing. If not, wash by hand instead.
  • Empty all pockets and compartments completely before washing. Zippers, hooks, straps, etc. may damage the machine.
  • Turn the backpack inside out to protect graphics and prevent color transfer.
  • Use a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using bleach or fabric softener, as these can damage waterproof coatings. A mild detergent is best.
  • You can put the backpack in a mesh wash bag for extra protection. This keeps straps contained.
  • Air dry is ideal, but you can machine dry on low or no heat if needed. Add a couple clean tennis balls to help fluff it up.
  • Do not dry clean backpacks, as the chemicals are too harsh.
  • Avoid putting leather or suede backpacks in the washer/dryer. Spot clean these by hand instead.
  • Repeat washing may wear out waterproofing over time. You can reapply a waterproofing spray after cleaning.

How to wash a backpack by hand

Washing your backpack by hand is a gentle way to clean it without the harsh agitation of a machine. While it takes a bit more time and elbow grease, handwashing allows you to thoroughly clean even delicate bags and ensures you don’t damage any straps, hardware or coatings in the process.

Fill a bathtub or large sink with cool water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Submerge your backpack fully and gently swish it around to dislodge dirt. Use a soft brush or washcloth to gently scrub areas that are heavily soiled. Take care not to pull too hard on straps or abrasively scrub. Drain the dirty water and repeat the process with clean water a few times until the bag is clean.

Once satisfied with the washing, drain the tub and lightly press down on the backpack to remove excess water. Lay it flat on a towel in an airy space to fully air dry. Reshape the backpack and stuff it lightly with towels as it dries to retain the form. Once fully dry, your backpack will be fresh, clean and ready for another adventure!

How to wash a backpack in the washer

While handwashing is gentle, sometimes you need the extra cleaning power of the washing machine to get your backpack looking like new. Here’s how to safely launder your backpack:

First, check the care tag and skip the machine if the manufacturer doesn’t recommend it. Then, empty out all items from every pocket and compartment. Turn the bag inside out – this protects the exterior fabric from damage.

Set your washing machine to a gentle, cold water cycle. Avoid hot water to prevent fading. A mild detergent is best – skip the bleach and fabric softener as these can degrade waterproof coatings. Place your inside-out backpack into a mesh washing bag and zip it closed before putting in the machine. This prevents straps and hardware from loosening or snagging.

Once washed, air drying is ideal if possible. Or tumble dry on low or no heat. Add a couple tennis balls to help re-fluff your pack. Inspect carefully for damage like loose threads. Your backpack should now be fresh and ready for more use.

Yes, you can wash a backpack in the washer and dryer, but it’s recommended to check the care label and use a gentle cycle with mild detergent. Remove any detachable parts and avoid high heat in the dryer.

— Can you put a backpack in the washer and dryer

Tips Before Washing Your Backpack

  • Cotton, polyester and nylon bags can typically be submerged and washed. Leather and suede need more gentle cleaning.
  • Wash backpacks before extended storage to avoid mildew and stains setting in.
  • Don’t wash with bleach or solvents which can degrade waterproof coatings.
  • Turn bags inside out before washing to protect embellishments.
  • Close all zippers, clasps and velcro before washing. Tie loose straps together.
  • Avoid machine drying for protective waterproof bags. Air dry instead whenever possible.
  • Wash frequently used backpacks every few months as body oils and dirt degrade the fabric over time.
  • Inspect for damage like loose threads or cracked coatings after each wash and make repairs as needed.

How Often to Wash a Backpack

How often you should wash your backpack depends on how frequently you use it:

  • Weekly use – Wash every 2-3 months
  • Monthly use – Wash every 4-6 months
  • Infrequent use – Wash once a year
  • After extended trips – Wash to remove excess dirt and sweat
  • When dirty – Spot clean spills when they happen

Wash your backpack more frequently if you use it in dirty environments like hiking on muddy trails. Bags used daily or by kids tend to need washing more often.

Inspect the inner lining after trips. Wash if you see grime buildup, stale odors or spot stains from spills. It’s best to wash before stains have a chance to set in.

Remember to wash your backpack before storing it for extended periods. Mildew can grow in hidden crevices if put away dirty.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

To Machine Wash

  • Washing machine
  • Mesh wash bag

To Hand Wash

  • Bathtub, sink or large bowl
  • Soft bristle brush and/or washcloth

To Clean a Clear Bag

  • Soft bristle brush and/or microfiber cloth


To Machine and Hand Wash

  • Mild liquid detergent
  • White vinegar or odor eliminator (optional)
  • Towels

To Clean a Clear Bag

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Non-acetone nail polish remover (optional)

How to Wash a Backpack in a Washing Machine

Prep for Washing

  • Inspect all compartments and remove contents
  • Turn the backpack inside out
  • Check care tag recommendations
  • Zip up all pockets
  • Tie down loose straps and compression hooks

Wash the Backpack

  • Place backpack in a mesh bag and zip closed
  • Set washer to a gentle, cold cycle
  • Use a mild detergent and skip fabric softener
  • Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to help remove odors (optional)
  • Place mesh bag in washer and start cycle

Air-Dry the Bag

  • Remove promptly from washer and lay flat
  • Reshape the backpack as it dries
  • Stuff lightly with towels if needed
  • Air dry fully before use

How to Wash a Backpack by Hand

Prep for Washing

  • Empty out backpack fully
  • Brush off any loose dirt
  • Check care tag, skip submerging leather or suede bags
  • Make sure straps and hardware are secured

Scrub the Backpack

  • Fill tub or sink with cool water and mild detergent
  • Fully submerge backpack and gently swish
  • Spot scrub heavily soiled areas with brush/washcloth
  • Drain dirty water and rinse repeatedly

Rinse the Bag

  • Rinse with clean water until suds are gone
  • Drain water and gently press bag to remove excess

Air-Dry the Bag

  • Reshape and lay flat or hang to dry
  • Stuff with towels if needed to retain shape
  • Fully air dry backpack before wearing or storing

How to Clean a Clear Backpack

Clear Out Debris

  • Shake out any dirt or crumbs
  • Use a microfiber cloth to dust off exterior
  • Clean the interior using a soft brush

Wash With Soapy Water

  • Make a solution of mild soap and warm water
  • Dip a soft cloth in the solution and wipe down the clear backpack
  • Avoid abrasive scrubbing

Rinse and Dry

  • Wipe bag surface with a cloth dipped in clean water
  • Rinse off all soap residue
  • Pat dry with a lint-free towel

Try Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover

  • Use on ink or grease spots – check for damage first
  • Pour a small amount on a cotton ball and gently rub stained area
  • Rinse surface immediately afterwards with water

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I wash a backpack without ruining it?

  • Turn it inside out, use a gentle cycle and air dry when possible. Wash in a mesh bag. Skip bleach and fabric softener.

Can I put my backpack in the dryer?

  • Air drying is best. If needed, tumble dry on low heat. Add tennis balls to fluff. Inspect carefully afterwards.

How do I wash a clear or vinyl backpack?

  • Use a soft cloth with mild soap and water. Gently wipe down and rinse residue. Avoid harsh scrubbing.

How do I clean the straps and hardware?

  • Spot clean straps with mild detergent and a toothbrush. Wipe metal hardware with a damp cloth.

What if my backpack isn’t washable?

  • Check the care tag – some bags should only be spot cleaned by hand. Use a small amount of gentle cleaner on a cloth.


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