CozyHome Magazine


Backpack: to Wash or Not to Wash

Photo: © Matthias Stolt -

Photo: © Matthias Stolt -


  1. How to Clean a Backpack
  2. General Tips

Backpack, like many things, periodically needs cleaning. Nevertheless, it is better to wash it as little as possible and only if it is really necessary. Backpacks are usually made from synthetic fabrics. Basically, these are Cordura – thick nylon with a specific thread structure, Kodra – a similar fabric made in China, or Oxford – nylon waterproof fabric.

In the following article, we have collected the most useful and necessary information and answers how to properly clean your backpack.

How to Clean a Backpack

All information mentioned below does not apply to backpacks made of leather, suede or vinyl.

To get rid of unpleasant smell and stains, you should regularly clean your packsack. And it’s better to do this at least once a year. However, do not wash it too often as it will lose its color and shape. Backpack cleaning is a science.

Advance preparation

First of all, you should determine what material is it made of. These are usual canvas or nylon. If there is a metal frame in your backpack, then ask how to care for it in the shop you have bought it. However, not all packsacks are so difficult to clean. Everyone can get a hand in it.

  1. To begin, take out everything of your packsack.
  2. Check stash and slip pockets, zip everything up and loose knots.
  3. Shake out the dry garbage or remove it with a brush.
  4. Then (if possible) pull out all hard parts of the backpack.
  5. There could be sticky spots. First of all, try to remove them with an ordinary toothbrush. Do it carefully so as not to damage the fabric.

Machine wash

It is allowed to wash backpacks without metal frames in a washing machine, using the delicate cycle.

  1. Before you start, disconnect metal parts and straps that you should clean by hand.
  2. Put an empty packsack in a special washing net or an ordinary pillowcase, and then – to the machine. For washing, use a gentle detergent without abrasives or bleach.
It is not too difficult to wash the backpack. Its parts is a real problem: metal and plastic parts, straps, and insets. Clean them manually as both they and the machine can damage.

Both manually and automatically, it is recommended to wash the backpack with a water temperature of less than 40 Celsius above zero. To remove stains from metal parts, use the same agents as for your camp utensils.

Hand washing

Why hand washing is better than a machine one?

  • First, the friction of the drum will damage the fabric surface, especially in joints.
  • Second, the detergent is difficult to wash off from the strong fabric (especially in the straps), and it is the risk of getting a skin irritation in the summer.
  • Finally, modern detergents (even delicate) are damaging to membrane fabrics. Each type has its own limitations in the number of washes. However, each cycle reduces the protective properties.

To clean the packsack, you need warm water and a soft cloth or a brush.

  1. First immerse the packsack in water for several hours. Prolonged soaking is not recommended because of the impregnation that can be damaged by water; the fabric suffers, as well, and joints lose their elasticity.
  2. Brush around the surface, paying particular attention to the dirtiest places and spots. You can use a soft, no aggressive detergent (e.g., pH-neutral soap, tar soap). Spots and stains from sweat can be removed by washing with an ordinary soap and a lot of running water.
  3. Rinse your packsack in pure water several times and dry in a ventilated area.


After washing, do not squeeze your packsack. Tie it over the bathtub and let the water drain out. Then you can hang it on the balcony, however, do not forget to protect it from direct sunlight.

After the backpack is completely dry, apply a special water-repellent impregnation. It can be in the form of both aerosol that you can spray on your bag (avoid the inner parts of the straps in order not to cause a skin irritation) and a solution.


If you apply the solution on the wet surface, the drying process will take you twice as much time.

Often there is a water-repellent impregnation which can be damaged in an electric dryer. So, you should dry such a backpack only by an ‘air dry’ mode or just air-cure.

General Tips

What can you do to make your backpack serve as long as possible?

  1. Carefully and gently handle it and all its elements, do not forget to apply additional water-repellent coating and a protective cover during the rain.
  2. Use a dry-cleaning brush with soft bristles, dampened with water, if necessary. Wet wipes are not recommended.
  3. Wash in accordance with the instructions on the label.
  4. When hand washing, monitor the temperature of the water.
  5. In there are greasy stains, use stain removers.
  6. The fabrics used to make the backpack, can not be ironed.
  7. Keep the zippers clean.
  8. Keep the backpack closed, in a dry and well-ventilated place.
  9. If you are not sure, please contact the proven dry-cleaner’s and specialists will cope with strong stains and dirt.

It is better not to wash the backpack at all. If there is no other way, choose a soft dry with a brush and damp cloth. The less detergent and water you, the better because the backpack will serve you longer.

Author: Anna Wallace