Get Your Backpacks Back-to-School Ready
Is there a personal item more indispensable than a backpack? Available in virtually any size and color you can dream up, a backpack is the ideal way to keep yourself organized and supplied when you’re on the go. But whether you’re at school, at the office, or on the trail, your trusty bookbag is bound to get a bit scruffy and stained over time. The good news is that backpacks are easy to clean. We’ll show you how.
How to Wash a Backpack by Hand
Washing your backpack by hand is our recommended method, especially for routine, everyday upkeep. Washing by hand lets you give your backpack a good tidying up without compromising its fabric, finish, or shape. Many styles of backpacks, especially those used for hiking, often have a protective coating that could be affected in the washer. In addition, if your bag is made of leather, or leather trimmed, always wash by hand.
Step 1: Refer to your backpack’s care instructions.
Many brands, such as Jansport, Osprey, and North Face have even taken the time to compile helpful cleaning tips.
Step 2: Empty out your backpack.
Open and empty all the pockets, then take your backpack outside and give it a good, satisfying shake out to get rid of all those little scraps and crumbs. Or use a vacuum attachment to get in those creases and corners of the backpack.
Step 3: Spot Treat Stains
Make a simple cleaning solution with mild, plant-based detergent and warm water. You can up your cleaning power by using a laundry detergent made with stain-fighting enzymes. Dip your brush (or a sponge) into the mixture, and gently scrub any visible stains.
Step 4: Soak in Warm Water
Double check care instructions to ensure your backpack can be submerged. Then, fill a sink or basin with warm water and a squirt of mild detergent, or a mild, plant-based dish liquid that helps break down grease and dirt. Be sure to use a scrubbing implement or gloves when soaking your backpack. Soak your backpack, gently cleaning the inside cavity and smaller compartments. Also give your zippers a scrub in case of any build up.
Step 5: Air Dry
Rinse your backpack with clean water to remove any detergent. If you only spot cleaned, wet a sponge or clean rag and wipe away any soap. Let your backpack drip dry in the sink, then hang in a breezy, sunny spot. If you can’t dry your backpack outside, pat it dry with a clean towel and hang it from a hook or hanger until dry.
How to Wash a Backpack in a Washing Machine
If you’re tackling larger stains, or just want a more comprehensive clean, nylon and canvas backpacks should be fine in the washer; however, check the manufacturer’s care instructions.
Step 1: Empty out your backpack.
Before washing, totally empty your pack. Open and empty all the pockets, then take your backpack outside and give it a good, satisfying shake. You can also use a vacuum attachment as mentioned previously.
Step 2: Spot Treat Stains
Make a simple cleaning solution by mixing a mild, plant-based detergent with warm water. Dip your brush (or a sponge) into the mixture, and gently scrub any visible stains.
Step 3: Wash on Gentle Cycle
Remove any extra clips and cut away loose threads. We recommend washing your backpack inside a pillowcase or laundry bag on gentle cycle using a plant and mineral based detergent pack. Our detergent packs are an USDA Biobased Product 94%.
Step 4: Air Dry
After the wash cycle is complete, use a clean towel to soak up excess moisture. Then air dry for several hours, preferably outdoors. Never put a backpack in the dryer.
Bonus Tip: How to De-odorize Your Backpack.
- If your backpack is clean, but just smells a little funky, try one of the following to freshen up:
- Open all the pockets and compartments and empty your backpack completely. Leave outdoors in a dry spot for several hours, and overnight if possible.
After emptying out your backpack, put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a few cotton balls, then drop them into your backpack and let the essential oils go to work.  Visit the Seventh Generation blog on integrating essential oils into your everyday routine for more tips.
And there you have it. Learning how to wash a backpack is a snap. Now, back to life’s adventures!