How to Machine Wash a Backpack


Are you tired of seeing your trusty backpack looking worn out and dirty? It might be time to give it a good wash. Many people are apprehensive about tossing their backpacks into the washing machine, fearing it might ruin the fabric or the structure. However, with the right techniques and precautions, machine washing your backpack can be a safe and effective way to give it a thorough cleaning. In this how-to guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of properly machine washing your backpack, ensuring that it comes out looking fresh and clean without any damage.

Key Takeaways:

  • Check the care label: Always read the care label on your backpack to see if it is machine washable.
  • Empty the backpack: Before washing, make sure to remove all contents and empty all pockets.
  • Spot treat stains: Prior to washing, treat any stains on the backpack with a gentle detergent or stain remover.
  • Use a gentle cycle: When machine washing your backpack, choose a gentle or delicate cycle to avoid damaging the fabric.
  • Air dry: After washing, hang your backpack to air dry rather than putting it in the dryer, which can cause damage to the fabric and straps.
  • Avoid using bleach: Bleach can damage the material of your backpack, so it’s best to avoid using it in the washing process.
  • Use a mesh laundry bag: To protect the backpack and its straps, consider using a mesh laundry bag to contain it during the washing process.

Preparation for Washing

If you have decided to machine wash your backpack, it is important to prepare it to ensure the best results properly. This step is crucial in order to prevent damage to the backpack and to clean it effectively.

Emptying and Checking the Backpack

Checking your backpack for any items left inside is the first step in preparing it for washing. Remove all contents, including any loose papers, pens, or personal items. Next, check the backpack for any tears, loose threads, or zippers that may need repair before washing. Addressing these issues beforehand will prevent further damage during the washing process.

Pretreating Stains and Problem Areas

Washing your backpack is an ideal time to address any stains or problem areas. Pretreat any noticeable stains by gently rubbing a stain remover or mild detergent into the affected areas. Focus mainly on areas such as the bottom of the backpack, where dirt and grime tend to accumulate. This will ensure a thorough cleaning and help to maintain the backpack’s appearance.

Backpacks are often exposed to a variety of environments, from outdoor adventures to daily commutes, making them susceptible to accumulating dirt, stains, and odours. Pretreating these areas before washing will help to effectively remove these challenges and improve the overall cleanliness of the backpack.

Setting Up the Washing Machine

Any time you are machine washing a backpack, it is important to properly set up the washing machine to ensure the best results. Start by cleaning out the washing machine to make sure there is no residue from previous loads that could transfer onto your backpack. Then, adjust the settings on the machine to prepare for washing your backpack.

Choosing the Right Detergent

Setting the right detergent is crucial when washing a backpack. Opt for a mild detergent that is gentle on fabrics to avoid damaging the material of your backpack. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners, as these can be harsh on the fabric and may cause discolouration or damage. Read the label on your detergent to ensure it is safe for washing backpacks, and follow the recommended dosage for the size of your load.

Selecting Appropriate Wash Settings

With the washing machine ready, it’s time to select the appropriate wash settings for your backpack. Choose a gentle or delicate cycle to avoid agitating the fabric too much. Select a cold water temperature to prevent any potential shrinking or colour fading. Make sure also to set the machine to a slow spin cycle to avoid any damage to the backpack’s straps or zippers.

To ensure the best results, consider placing the backpack in a mesh laundry bag before putting it in the washing machine. This extra step will help protect the backpack from any potential snags or damage during the wash cycle.

Backs of schoolkids with colorful rucksacks moving in the street

Machine Washing Your Backpack

For those of us who use our backpacks regularly, they can accumulate a fair amount of dust, dirt, and sweat. While it might seem like a daunting task, machine washing your backpack can be a simple and effective way to give it a thorough clean. However, there are a few key steps you should follow to ensure that your backpack comes out of the washing machine looking as good as new.

Placing the Backpack in the Machine

Placing your backpack in the washing machine may seem straightforward, but taking the time to do it properly can make a big difference in the outcome. Start by emptying all the pockets and compartments of your backpack to prevent anything from getting damaged or lost in the washing process. Then, place the backpack in a large laundry bag or pillowcase to protect it from getting caught or tangled with other items in the machine.

Tips for Preserving Backpack Shape and Integrity

When machine washing your backpack, it’s essential to take a few extra precautions to ensure that it retains its shape and integrity. First, choose a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine to avoid any unnecessary wear and tear. Additionally, consider using a mild detergent to clean your backpack while still being gentle on the fabric. Any buckles, straps, or zippers should be fastened or closed to prevent them from getting snagged or damaged in the wash.

  • Use a gentle or delicate cycle.
  • Consider using a mild detergent.

Washing your backpack in the machine can be a convenient way to keep it clean and fresh, but it’s essential to take the necessary precautions to ensure that it comes out in the best possible condition. By following these tips, you can help preserve the shape and integrity of your backpack while giving it a thorough cleaning.

After the Wash

Not only is it important to properly wash and clean your backpack, but it is equally crucial to pay attention to how you take care of it after the wash. This will ensure that your backpack remains in good condition and continues to serve you well for a long time.

Drying Your Backpack Properly

The backpack should be air-dried to avoid any damage that the heat of a dryer may cause. Hang your backpack upside down on a clothesline or lay it flat on a clean, dry surface. Make sure all zippers and pockets are open to allow for proper air circulation. This will prevent any mildew or musty odours from developing.

Factors to Consider Before Storing Your Backpack

Before storing your backpack, consider the following factors:

  • Wash and dry your backpack thoroughly to prevent any mould or mildew from developing.
  • Ensure that all zippers and pockets are open to allow for proper air circulation.

Consider the material of your backpack, as some materials require special care and handling. After cleaning and drying your backpack, it is important to store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent any damage from UV rays. Taking these factors into consideration will help ensure that your backpack remains in good condition for your next adventure.


Presently, it is clear that machine washing a backpack can be an effective way to keep it clean and free from dirt and grime. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your backpack is washed and dried correctly without causing any damage. From removing loose items and pre-treating stains to using a gentle cycle and letting it air dry, the process is straightforward and can be easily done at home. Remember to always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific care and cleaning of your backpack. With the right method and care, your backpack can continue to serve its purpose for years to come.

Close-up of elegant women’s backpack. Rear view of young woman dressed in beige coat and with black bag walking down street in city.

How to Machine Wash a Backpack

Q: Can I machine wash my backpack?

A: Yes, most backpacks can be safely machine-washed. However, it’s essential to check the care label for any specific instructions.

Q: What should I do before washing my backpack in the machine?

A: Empty all pockets and remove any items or debris from the backpack. Also, make sure to brush off any loose dirt or mud before washing.

Q: Should I use a laundry bag or pillowcase to protect the backpack?

A: Yes, it’s a good idea to place your backpack in a laundry bag or pillowcase to protect it from getting caught on the machine’s agitator or other clothes.

Q: What water temperature should I use to wash my backpack?

A: Use cold or lukewarm water to avoid damaging the fabric or any plastic components on the backpack.

Q: Can I use regular laundry detergent to wash my backpack?

A: Yes, you can use a mild detergent to wash your backpack. Avoid using bleach or fabric softener, as these can damage the fabric and straps.

Q: Can I put my backpack in the dryer after washing it?

A: It’s best to let your backpack air dry to avoid any potential damage from the heat of the dryer. Hang it upside down to help retain its shape.

Q: Is it safe to wash a backpack with leather accents or trim in the machine?

A: It’s not recommended to machine wash a backpack with leather accents. Instead, spot-clean the leather areas with a damp cloth and leather cleaner.

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