How to Wash a Backpack in 5 Simple Steps (All Types of Backpacks)

How to machine wash your backpack

Yes, you can put your backpack in a washing machine provided the instructions on the care label say you can. If you have a nylon or polyester backpack, it can be cleaned in the machine on a gentle cycle, with non-bleach detergent and stain remover to treat spots. Wash it solo, not with a full load of clothes — if you don’t have a large mesh laundry bag, you can put it inside an old pillowcase first to help contain the straps. “However, even if the fabric is machine-washable, doing so may cause some backpacks to lose shape,” notes Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. So use the shortest, gentlest cycle your machine offers.

You do not want to tumble dry the backpack, as that will damage it. Instead, skip the dryer and use a clean dry towel to blot the interior and exterior well, then hang it upside down to air dry, preferably in a place with good air circulation.

Things to Get You Started

Although some daypacks can be washed in a washing machine, this is not advisable and can damage not only the backpack but also the washing machine.

Actually, on the most care labels, it’s stressed out that the backpack should never be washed in a washing machine – especially if it’s a large backpack. However, some backpacks can be washed in a washing machine – if you’re in a hurry.

That’s why you’ll need some cleaning m

That’s why you’ll need some cleaning materials and tools – not special ones that need to be bought, but some that you certainly have in your home. Here’s a short list of these cleaning products that can help you keep your backpack clean without damaging the fabrics.

  • Soap – preferably unscented and it should be without detergent. The most appropriate soaps for this kind of fabrics are the castle soaps that will not affect the waterproofing of the materials.
  • Special washing liquids – these are not a must-have, but certainly recommendable if you are an outdoor lover. These washing liquids are made especially for waterproof materials and don’t affect the fabric’s performance. They are often used for jackets and pants but are also a perfect fit for your backpack.
  • Clean sponge or washcloth – these are used for spot-cleaning and allow you to take all of the dirt and dust of your backpack without damaging the material.
  • Toothbrush or soft (not stiff) brush –  with the toothbrush you can scrub the dirty spots and also the whole backpack. These materials won’t affect or damage the backpack’s performance and will certainly clean it well.



A broken backpack is of no use, especially if there are holes and broken zippers that let contents fall out of the bag. Interior pocket rips can be mended with a needle and thread if you can reach the tear, which is typically on a seam. Fix exterior mesh pocket tears with similar fabric patches, which will make the pocket functional again.

Depending on the design of the straps, broken ones can be fixed. If the strap goes through a buckle, you might need to cut down the strap and use an anvil to create another hole for the buckle. If a strap, zipper, or buckle needs replacement and the fabric is too tough to sew through with a needle and thread, consult a shoe repair professional who also has the right tools to fix handbags. Before replacing a zipper, see if pliers can fix bent teeth or a distorted slider.

5 Steps to Wash Plush Backpack

Step 1: Start with Surface Washing

Start with cleaning the Plush Backpack using a water-dampened cloth. Then, use a stiff brush to clean the unwanted hair or dirt attached to the bag. It will be easier if the brush has wide plastic bristles. In case of the stuffed animal backpack, make sure to fluff its fur diligently. After that, wipe and brush with gentle detergent or cleaner made for Plush material.

Step 2: If It Doesn’t Work, Consider Machine Washing

If there’s still stains left after the surface washing, then you should consider machine washing. But you must check the manufacturer’s recommendation whether you can machine wash or not before taking this decision.

Step 3: Place Plush Backpack in Mesh Bag

After determining your Plush Backpack can be machine washed, put it in a laundry mesh bag before placing it in a washing machine to give protection from being pummeled or snagged in the machine.

Step 4: Gentle/Delicate Cycle Clean in Washing Machine

Select a gentle/delicate cycle in the washing machine, and place the mesh bag packed Plush backpack in the washing machine. Don’t forget to use gentle detergent in water.

Step 5: Drying Methods

If you air-dry your Plush Bag hanging on window or clothesline, then it’ll be a great drying method, but it may take some days, and there’s a chance of mildew. You can also try placing the Plush bag near a dehumidifier; it’ll make the drying process faster.

Material: Plush

Backpack Category Includes:

  • Plush Backpack
  • Stuffed Animal Backpack
  • 3D Plush Backpack
  • Cosplay Backpack
  • Kawaii Plush Backpack
  • Plush Animal Backpack

How to dry a backpack after washing it in the machine

Once you have washed your backpack in the machine, it is important to dry it properly. One way to do this is to hang it up outside in the sun. The heat from the sun will help to dry out the backpack quickly. You can also put it in a sunny spot inside your house.

Another option is to use a hair dryer to dry it. Be sure to point the hairdryer at the backpack and not directly at it, or you may damage the material. Once the backpack is completely dry, store it in a place where it will be safe from moisture.

How to Hand Wash a Backpack

If your backpack is too large to fit in the washing machine, you can clean it by hand in the bath. Smaller backpacks might fit in a sink or basin. Always check the label to make sure the bag can be fully submerged.

1. Empty your backpack, checking all pockets and corners for any small items or dirt that may be lodged. If your backpack has a metal frame, remove this before washing.

2. Fill a bath or basin with plenty of lukewarm water. If the water is too hot it can cause the backpack’s colors to run.

3. Add a small amount of gentle detergent that is suitable for backpacks, this should be fragrance and dye free. Using a harsh detergent or fabric softener may damage the material of the rucksack, our Wash N Proof  is a great choice if you are unsure whether your regular detergent is gentle enough.

4. Scrub your backpack using a soft brush or a cloth, focusing on the areas that are particularly dirty. A toothbrush can be useful for any tough stains or for getting into those difficult to reach areas.

5. Allow the backpack to dry naturally. Try to hang the backpack upside down if possible, and make sure it’s 100% dry before storing it away.

If your backpack is not machine washable or cannot be fully submerged, you can use a wet cloth with a small amount of detergent-free soap.

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5 Steps to Wash Denim, Cotton, Vegan, Cordura, Oxford, EVA, Twill Weave, and Canvas Backpack

Step 1: Use a Pillowcase to Put the Bag in It

All Denim, Cotton, and Canvas backpack, especially denim backpacks, are prone to bleeding. Therefore, it’s important to use a pillowcase and put the empty backpack in it for putting it in the washing machine. Close the opening of the pillowcase with cotton string.

Step 2: Use Cold Water to Wash

As Cotton is prone to shrinking, it’s better to use cold water for washing for all these backpack categories. Next, mix some washing detergent and shampoo in the cold water, and prepare the cleaning liquid.

Step 3: Take Special Care in Stained Area

To wash the stained area, you’ll need a damp washcloth, some soap, and cold water. Wipe the backpack with soap in circular motions, ensuring that the stains are out as you go. For the stubborn stains, you can use some alcohol. Rinse the backpack in the cold water, finally, or put it into the washing machine for the final wash.

Step 4: Give Time to Dry

Once thoroughly cleaned, we recommend that your Denim, Cotton, or Canvas backpacks be air-dried. Denim will take a longer time to dry, so better hang it for tumble air dry and give some time. But, don’t dry these in the dryer, these backpacks materials might shrink.

Step 5: Iron the Bag Carefully 

To give your backpack the perfect new look, iron the bag in a mild heat, so that there are no lines of folding or wrinkles. After the iron, your backpack will look like a new one.

Material: Denim, Cotton, Vegan, Twill Weave, Canvas

Backpack Category Includes:

  • Denim Backpack
  • Cotton Backpack
  • Canvas Backpack
  • Cotton Denim Backpack
  • Cotton Canvas Backpack
  • Soft Polyester Cotton Backpack
  • Lyndon Backpack
  • Vegan Backpack
  • Cordura Backpack
  • Oxford Backpack
  • Waterproof Oxford Backpack
  • EVA Backpack
  • Twill Polyester Backpack
  • Twill Fabric Backpack

Know the difference – Washing vs. Cleaning

Cleaning the backpack is something that needs to be done more often – after every hike or outdoor training a light cleaning should follow. The light cleaning doesn’t take a lot of time and it helps you keep your equipment and backpack clean. Simply grab a wet cloth and scrub the dirty spots, and then leave the backpack to air dry.

On the other hand, deep cleaning is advisable only

On the other hand, deep cleaning is advisable only after a long hike which lasted more than four or five days. This type of cleaning includes washing the backpack with warm water – so it also shouldn’t be performed too often.

Are Herschel bags worth it?

They’re not worth the money. What you pay for the retail, you’d be pissed if you knew how much their initial cost to make. Save yourself, save some money, pay for a better backpack with better quality around the same price range, longer lasting materials that will last you.

Is it safe to put a backpack in the washing machine?

The answer to this question depends on the backpack and the washing machine. If you have a delicate or expensive backpack, it is probably best to hand wash it. However, if you have a durable backpack that can handle a little wear and tear, then washing it in the machine should be fine. Just make sure to read the care instructions first.

If you do decide to machine wash your backpack, put it in a mesh laundry bag to protect it from getting snagged on other items in the load. Use a mild detergent and set the machine to a gentle cycle. Hang your backpack up to dry when it is finished. Do not put it in the dryer, as this can damage the backpack.

Keep Your Backpack Clean

To prevent the need for frequent washing, check out these products which will help you keep your bag fresh!

Our backpack covers help protect your belongings and bag from the rain, which can cause mould to build up if it isn’t dried properly.

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These waterproof bags sit inside your backpack to stop any spillages or wet items damaging your bag or making it smell. Shop Now