Can You Wash Backpack In The Washing Machine?

From time to time your backpack will get dirty. And when it does, what is the best way to get it clean again?

Should you rely on the traditional way of washing by hand or fall back to the washing machine to do the dirty job for you?

You can actually wash your backpack in the washing machine, and doing so saves you time and energy as opposed to doing it by hand. Before you toss your backpack into the washer however, ensure that you check the label (if any) and read the instructions printed there to learn the best practices and treatments that your backpack deserves.

Checking the care label will inform you on whether or not your backpack can be submerged, because some backpack simply can’t. It will also teach you a host of other things like the water temperature to use for cleaning, the technique for drying, and sometimes, even the nature of detergents to go for.  

Below, we’ll go through the detailed procedure on how to properly wash a backpack using the washing machine. 

You’ll also learn how to wash backpacks by hand in cases when you don’t have access to a washing machine or your specific product can’t be put in there for washing.

How to wash backpacks in the washing machine

Check the label

Prior to putting your backpack in the washing machine, you first need to make sure you’re ticking some boxes first. You need to make sure you’re reading the care label of the backpack to get informed of the instructions and treatments that are allowed on that bag.

Some backpacks, for example, cannot be submerged in water, like the leather and suede. They will absorb water, swell and become distorted. Other bags cannot be submerged in hot water as it will cause them to lose shape and structure. Some can’t even be washed in heavy duty detergent because it can destroy the finishing on them etc.

That’s why it’s extremely important to check the care label for the instructions so you know the right products to use and the best practices to follow.

Spot treatment (for lightly soiled bags)

Quite often, you’ll find one or two stain spots on your backpack especially when you use it for school or heavily. 

You can find ink stains, grease stains and even grass stains on it. Look for these spots and treat them appropriately using proven techniques. This will make sure that your bag goes into the washer and comes out pretty clean without any stain on it.

If you have a backpack that has a large or stubborn stains on it, and it’s proven to be resistant to any stain removal efforts, it’s best to take it to the dry cleaners or a professional stain remover. They know how to best handle the backpack without causing damage to it. 

Remove detachable and empty the backpack

Next up, you want to empty the backpack completely. Make sure there isn’t anything left in there like a pencil, eraser, handkerchief etc. Turn the backpack inside out and release the contents over the bin. 

If the bag has detachable extra pockets, now is the time to remove them and give them their own proper wash either by hand or in the washing machine alongside the backpack.

Put in mesh bag

For most bags, you may not need to put them in a mesh bag, and this applies especially to cotton bags. But it’s generally a good practice to do so in order to avoid causing damage to the outer fibers of the backpack. If you don’t have a mesh bag, you can use a pillowcase that is clean.

When you’re done with that, run a normal cycle with a heavy duty laundry detergent and rinse. Or, use the settings advised on the care label of the backpack. 

Dry with every pocket wide open

When it comes to drying, avoid putting backpacks in the dryer. Instead use a shaded area away from sunlight. You want to ensure every pocket is open so no funny odor persists later on. When air drying the backpack also, you want to do so upside down so any remaining water can actually leak out from the open end.

Clean backpacks by hand: with brush or towel

If for some reason you cannot wash your backpack in the washing machine, you can always rely on a brush or clean cloth to do the job for you. 

Prepare a cleaning solution of laundry detergent and water, then dip your brush or clean cloth into it. Go gently over the dirty surface of your back until it lathers. Submerge the bag completely for the rinse cycle, and thrust it up and down to release suds. Dry in a shaded area away from sunlight. . 

For backpacks made of leather, or those that cannot be submerged in water, use a cleaning solution, but make sure to not soak the bag completely. For example,with  leather, use a leather cleaner, and avoid soaking the bag with a cleaning solution. 

After cleaning, get a clean cloth moistened with water to get rid of the excess suds. Then dry and polish off with a conditioner (in the case of lather) so the striped oils that serve as protection are restored. 

Can you wash your backpack with clothes?

It’s terrible advice to wash a backpack with clothes. Backpacks are sturdy items having structure. Pairing them up with clothes, especially delicate ones, is a sure way to destroy their fiber’s integrity. 

Because backpacks are washed with zippers open, this can also cause snagging in the washer. Small clothes can also end up in the backpack and not get washed throughout the wash session. 

One last thing Is that your backpack may not have the same wash settings as the clothes you’re trying to pair it up with. So pairing the two together can see you compromise on the wash settings for the other. 

Final Thoughts

Backpacks can be washed in the washing machine or by hand. Before proceeding with any technique however, make sure to check the fabric care label to determine how best to clean the backpack.

In the washing machine, make sure the zips of the backpack are wide open and every pocket is unzipped. Make sure you also empty the bag completely before putting it in the washing machine.