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How to Clean a Backpack: Hand & Machine Washing (Step-by-Step Guide)

how to clean a backpack
Written by Erik Himmel

Given the rugged nature of backpacks, it is easy to forget that they too need maintenance to keep functioning as expected and for their longevity.

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 yourself and alert the game animals when hunting.

There are usually two ways to clean your backpacks – hand 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

Handwash

how to clean backpack: handwashing backpack, rucksack, deep wash, dry

  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 water. Use a towel to dry it out.
  3. Fill a bucket or a basin with lukewarm water since hot water may damage the color of your backpack and then add detergent-free soap to the water. Regular detergents have a reputation of 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 where 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 backpack: machine wash rucksack, straps, hiking, washing machine

  1. Similar to the hand washing process, empty all of the items inside. Leave all of the zippers open and remove the metal buckles and frames (if any).
  2. 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.
  3. Spot clean for any tough stains as in the case of hand washing.
  4. Then put the backpack in a laundry bag to keep the straps from getting tangled in the washing machine that could damage the bag as well as the machine. In case a laundry bag is not available, you can simply turn the backpack inside out.
  5. Make sure the washing machine is big enough to accomodate the bag and use a mild detergent especially suitable for backpacks. Using regular detergents, soaps or fabric softeners is not recommended because they’re harmful to the fabric as mentioned earlier.
  6. Now let it wash in a gentle cycle in cold water, ensuring it has been rinsed properly as well.
  7. 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

If you explore rough terrain every now and then, your backpack is bound to wear out sooner than your expectation. But these tips can help extend the lifetime significantly.

1. Rucksack covers

There could be mold buildups on your backpack if not dried well after a cleaning session. Get quality rucksack covers to keep the contents of your bag dry in the 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. It’s advisable to not drag it over rough surfaces that could weaken the material and cause holes to develop. 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

To avoid frequent washing, you can cover it up with backpack covers or liners.

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 activity you partake in. After all, they keep your vital and much-needed survival items safe from the harsh weather and natural elements, especially when hunting in the wild. So, take good care of your backpack and your backpack will take good care of you for years to come.

About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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