Does your backpack stink? Or looks dirty? Then it definitely needs washing. Backpacks get dirty or stained over time because they are often used as daily gears loaded with school supplies or hiking trips. The best way to keep your pack clean all time is by light cleaning. Clean your pack after every use, spot clean stains after any damage. Deep clean your pack once or twice a year in a washer.

Always place the backpack inside a pillowcase or laundry bag to prevent zippers and straps from getting tangled or caught inside the washer. Add a small amount of mild detergent and run the gentle cycle.

Follow the step-by-step instructions give below and wash your pack safely.

How to wash the backpack in the washer?

Washing a backpack in a washer is not rocket science; you can easily wash it. As all bags are not machine washable so always check the label on the backpack before washing.

You will require:-

  1. Mild detergent(non-bleach), which is fragrance and additive-free.
  2. Sponge or washcloth and soft-bristled cleaning brush, or you can use an old brush.
  3. Laundry bag or pillowcase.
  4. Stain remover(non-bleach)
  5. Old towels

Let’s start washing!

Step 1:-Empty your backpack.

Remove all your essentials from your backpack, like memory cards, batteries, keys, cash, etc., it cannot get damaged in water or washing machine.

Step 2:-Prepare your backpack for washing it in a washer

Remove all the dust particles and debris from the empty compartments. Turn your bag upside down to remove the dust, or you can use a vacuum cleaner. You can also use a damp cloth or brush to remove the dirt.

If your backpack has frames, remove all the internal and external frames because they can be damaged in a washer. And remove any detachable pockets if your backpack has. You can clean it separately.

After that, unzip all your zippers because they can get damaged in the washing machine. And secure all the straps present on the backpack and fasten all the buckles. Cut all the loose threads around the zipping area or on the backpacks because threads tend to cause damage to the fabric when spinning in the washing machine.

Step 3:-Read all the instructions mentioned on the label

Every backpack has an instruction label for cleaning purposes. The backpack label will be present inside the pack. It tells whether the bag can be washed in a machine or only hand washed. It provides every detail about how to wash the backpack like in cold or warm water, what type of detergent should be used, what temperature the cycle should spin etc., for you so that you do not damage your pack.

If there is no label provided, then be sure to test the fabric in a less visible spot with 1/4th teaspoon of detergent to avoid fading of colour. Strong cleaning method and strong cleaning detergents can damage your pack as well as its ability to resist water. So, use a gentle detergent and follow the steps mentioned.

Step 4:-Remove stains before washing your backpack in a washer

Before putting your pack inside the washing machine, pre-treat the exterior or interior stain to remove the stains and better wash your pack.

Take some lukewarm water, and soft-bristled brush/old brush or sponge will also work and take stain remover and rub the stain softly till its removed and let the solution settle on the pack for some time for better removal of the stain. You will notice pre-treating the stain will easily remove the stain after being washed.

If you don’t have stain remover with you, you can still pre-treat the stain with the help of detergent. Take a half detergent liquid and half warm water and simply soak a brush and clean the stain on the pack till it’s removed.

Pre-treating the stain is very important; otherwise, the stain will get even worse.

Step 5:-Now its time to wash your backpack in a washer

Turn the backpack inside out or put it inside a pillowcase or laundry sack and tie it before putting it inside the washer. The pillow bag and laundry sack help the zippers and straps get caught in the machine and damage both the pack and machine. And if you forgot something inside your pack like pens, keys, etc., this pillowcase will protect your stuff from destruction.

Now, add one or two tablespoons of gentle detergent inside the washing machine when it’s filled with lukewarm/warm/cold water, using the washer’s gentle and delicate cycle. Don’t use regular detergent because it can destroy the material.

Step 6:-Rinse and dry your back

The last step, take the backpack out of the washing machine and take out the pillowcase or laundry sack.

Take an old towel and wipe down the unzipped pockets and inside of the backpack. You need to open all the zippers and pockets open and let the backpack dry outdoors. Do not put it in a dryer because it can damage the backpack.

Some tips while washing your backpack in a washer

  1. Do not dry your bright coloured or colourful pack directly in the sun because the colour can fade.
  2. You can use hairspray on ink stains to surface them.
  3. If your backpack is very expensive or big, I would recommend you to give it to a professional to wash. You can give it to your nearby laundry.
  4. If you are washing your pack for the first time, do not try new experiments on it and only follow the simple procedure mentioned.
  5. If you have a leather bag, then do not wash it in a washing machine.
  6. If your pack has a water-repellant coating or fabric sealant, then soap and water can melt the water-repellant coating, and the quality of the backpack will degrade and appear dull hackneyed. To protect your backpack, you can buy a water repellant spray which you can apply after cleaning the bag.
  7. Do not put your pack inside a dryer; it can damage your backpack quality, and also, it can break the frames. Always let the bag dry naturally.


I can put the backpack in a washing machine?

Yes, with some backpacks, it will work; it depends on the material of the bag, like nylon or canvas are safe to put in the washing machine. If the pack has leather trim don’t machine wash it. Check the label on the pack before washing and follow the instructions as mentioned. You must check zippers, straps and buckles before washing because these parts can easily get caught in moving parts of the washing machine and can easily damage your pack. The straps can also get tangled. Don’t put the pack in the dryer; hang it outside for drying. The dryer can damage the buckles and zippers of the pack.

Campaign bags with external or internal frames are machine washable?

Generally, framed backpacks are not machine washable, but if the frames are detachable, you can remove the frames and machine wash the pack. If the frames are not detachable, don’t wash them in a machine, you can hand wash them. If washed in a machine, its frame can bend and become damaged while washing; it can tear the fabric or damage the machine’s drum.

What material is good for washing a backpack in a washer?

Backpack materials such as leather, suede, vinyl are not at all meant to be washed in a washing machine. If you try to wash it in a machine, then your pack will get damaged.

If your pack is made up of cloth such as nylon or polyester synthetic materials, it is best suited to wash in a washing machine.

How many times I can wash my pack in a washer?

You can wash waterproof backpacks or backpack with fabric sealer only once or twice a year because too much washing with detergent can dull the shine of the fabric and pack’s ability to repel water. You can buy a waterproofing spray or water repellent to treat the fabric and replenish lost coating.

What detergent should I use to wash my backpack in a washer?

You should always use a soft and gentle detergent that is beast suitable for your backpack. Never use a regular detergent powder that you use for your clothes in a washing machine because this will damage the material and colour of the pack and harm your washer. You can also use heavy-duty detergents for washing your backpack.

Which wash cycle and temperature should I use?

Check on the label what temperature is mentioned; if it’s not mentioned, I recommend you to wash your pack in a gentle, delicate and hand wash cycle in warm water. This temperature will prevent any damages to your pack. If your backpack is made up of cloth material, you can use a normal gentle cycle in cold water; the cold-water setting will prevent the backpack from colour bleeding.

Which type of washing machine is best suited for washing backpacks?

All types of washing machines are suitable for washing backpacks, but if I have to choose one, it will definitely be a top-load automatic washing machine without an agitator.

How to remove bad smell from the backpack?

The extra dirty patches can be cleaned with an enzyme cleaner; the enzymes break down the kinds of bacteria left by sweat or oil without harsh effects.

For a budget-friendly solution, you can use white vinegar diluted with water. Use a spray bottle to spray the dirty solution on the dirty pack and sit until it dries. And vinegar smell will go off after it’s washed in the washing machine.


By reading this article, you know washing a backpack in the washer is not that hard and can be done perfectly if you followed all the rules and take all the precautions.