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How to Clean a Backpack? | Everything You Need to Know

how to clean backpack
Written by Marc Niad
Last Update: August 11, 2023

Given the rugged nature of backpacks, we often forget that they too need maintenance to serve as expected and last longer.

Not only does a regular maintenance job on your beloved backpack help ensure its optimal performance but this also eliminates the risk of any unwanted odor, which could be annoying to you and those around you.

But how to clean a backpack in the easiest and most efficient way? There are usually two ways to clean your backpack – hand or manual wash and machine wash. The care label on your backpack does determine what method you should follow.

Today, we will show you how to clean your backpack the right way so it serves you for years.

How to Clean a Backpack? : Step-by-Step Guide

Hand (Manual) Wash

How to Clean a Backpack- Manual Hand wash

1. Unpack your backpack and give it a light dusting to remove any remaining fragments of food and other objects.

Leave all of the pockets unzipped for a thorough cleaning. Also, make sure that you remove any metal frames or buckles and wash them separately.

2. If any area of the backpack has accumulated tough stains, use a wet sponge with a few drops of detergent-free soap and rub to spot-clean the area.

It is not recommended to pour detergent-free soap on the bag directly.

Once done, don’t let the soap dry on the bag but dab and rinse the area with a sponge rinsed in clean cool water. Use a towel to dry it out.

3. Fill a bucket or a basin with lukewarm water since hot or warm water may damage the color of your backpack and then add detergent-free soap to the water.

Regular detergents have a reputation for damaging the waterproof coating/material of the backpack.

4. Use a soft brush to gently scrub all of the areas.

You could also use a toothbrush to get dirt and soil out of those hard-to-reach areas, including the zippers.

5. Rinse your backpack thoroughly with clean running water, rubbing was necessary to get rid of any excess soap.

6. Hang the backpack upside down and let it air-dry naturally.

7. Once completely dry, it’s ready to be stored away or taken for another adventure.

Machine Wash

How to Clean a Backpack – Machine Wash

Similar to the hand washing process, empty your backpack removing all of the items inside. Leave all of the zippers open and remove the metal buckles and frames (if any).

Turn the backpack upside down and lightly dust it to remove any remaining bits of food items, broken/torn fragments from other objects, and dirt.

Spot clean for any tough stains as in the case of hand washing.

Then put the backpack in a laundry bag to keep the straps from getting tangled in the washing machine which could damage the fabric as well as the machine.

In case a laundry bag is not available, you can simply turn the backpack inside out.

Make sure the washing machine is big enough to accommodate the bag and use a mild detergent especially suitable for backpacks.

Using regular laundry detergents, soaps, or fabric softeners is not recommended because they’re harmful to the fabric as mentioned earlier.

Now let it wash in a gentle cycle in cold water, ensuring it has been rinsed properly as well.

Finally, remove the backpack from the laundry bag, turn it upside down, and leave it to air-dry completely before reusing it or storing it away.

Caution: Never ever put your backpack in a dryer or you’ll end up damaging it.

Letting it air-dry away from direct sources of heat is the best method.

Backpack Caring Tips

Now that you know how to clean a backpack, let’s have  if you explore rough terrain every now and then, your backpack is bound to wear out sooner than your expected. But these tips and care instructions can help extend its lifetime significantly.

1. Use rucksack covers

There could be mold buildup on your backpack if not dried well after cleaning session.

Get quality rucksack covers to keep the contents of your bag dry in rainy weather or wet conditions.

2. Cushion sharp objects

Tent pegs, poles, and knives that have sharp edges could pierce through the material of your backpack.

Cushion these items with some pieces of cloth or you could even pack them tightly against other objects for minimized movements to deal with this issue.

3. Be kind

Just because your backpack is made from ripstop fabrics doesn’t mean you can abuse it any way you want. Don’t drag it over rough surfaces that could weaken the material and cause holes to develop – whether you’re light or deep cleaning.

Also, when going through thorny areas, do lift your bag high up to keep the sharp edges from tearing into your backpack.

4. Cover up

You can cover it up with backpack covers or liners so you don’t have to wash your backpacking pack every now and then.

Wrapping It Up

Bird hunting, coyote hunting, camping, deer hunting, trekking, turkey hunting, and other such thrilling adventures become great only when you’re accompanied by quality outdoor gear.

Backpacks are essential no matter the type of outdoor activity you partake in. After all, they keep your vital and much-needed survival items safe from harsh weather and natural elements, especially when hunting in the wild.

So, with enough know-hows on how to clean a backpack, take good care of your backpack and your backpack will take good care of you for years to come.


1. Can I put my backpack in the washing machine?

Ans. Yes, you can but with throw a few small towels as well. But remember that if the backpack has coating then it may come off soon. Also make sure the straps won’t wrap around the agitator.

2. Can I dry my backpack in the drier after a wash?

Ans.  No, you can wash your backpack in warm water in the washer and then air dry it. But if you put it in the dryer it, the heat and tumbling action of the dryer will warp or shrink the material, especially if it’s made of synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, acrylic, spandex, and acetate.

3. Can I use dish soap to wash my backpack?

Ans.  Yes you can use a little amount of dish soap or laundry detergent along with lukewarm water.

About the author

Marc Niad

It’s been several years that Marc, a retired teacher and a proud dad, has silently been piling up mature bucks down the South. This humble hunter began his hunting journey at quite an early age and since then, he spent countless hours in the woods and learned good lessons in terms of woodsmanship. Along the way, he also made money sharing his skill with his followers and well-wishers.

The Ranger Expert is the brainchild of this veteran hunter who loves hunting the swamps and the hills around the Mississippi and Homochitto rivers. His most favorite hunting technique is taking his climbing gear and going to the top of pines with a 25.06 – the old-fashioned way!

He gets most of his games during late December through mid-January – his favorite hunting time. Marc strongly believes that hard work, passion, and a bit of luck can bring you success in the wild.

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