How To Clean Your Backpack: The Easiest Guide On The Internet!

How To Wash A Backpack: The Easiest Guide On The Internet!

Just as our favorite backpacks accompany us on every journey, learning how to wash a backpack is equally essential on our part.

But these loyal carriers don’t just carry travel tales. Deep inside, they carry a hidden, gritty secret. And that’s where the adventure turns into a bit of a challenge.

As the miles go up, so does the dust, the stains, and the remnants of all the places you’ve been to. Your backpack remembers everything from the scent of distant lands to the rain in Thailand.

Now, it’s finally time to treat it to the spa day it truly deserves. In this blog, I’ll guide you through everything you need to transform that grime into a gleaming backpack.

Read till the end to know insider tips on how to get rid of stains and odors in a snap, and watch your backpack emerge anew, ready for more adventures!

Why You Should Know
How To Wash A Backpack

Backpack maintenance might not be up on your to-do list, but trust me, it should be. It ensures that your favorite backpack doesn’t leave your back anytime soon.

Here’s why you need to clean your pack regularly:

Your backpack is home to your travel belongings. But as you delay the cleaning process, dirt, sweat, and germs start building up. A clean backpack ensures you’re not taking any germs or allergens along with you.

Regular maintenance costs are far less than replacing a worn-out backpack. Knowing the best way to clean a backpack means you won’t have to open your wallet to invest in a new backpack any time soon.

Neglecting backpack care tips can lead to premature wear and tear. The dirt and grime might not appear on the outside but inside, it is actually damaging your backpack. By learning how to wash a backpack correctly, you can extend its lifespan.

We all know that quality backpacks, whether carry on, or sling, are pretty expensive. Learning to remove stains from a canvas backpack or cleaning a leather backpack at home might not seem easy at first. But in the long run, these small methods will protect your big investments.

Preparing for Backpack Cleaning

Before knowing how to clean a backpack, there are a few things you need to check, for a successful backpack cleaning session.

The first step in maintaining your backpack is to empty it completely. Remove everything including crumbs, receipts, and any treasures from your packing list hiding at the bottom of the backpack.

This speeds up cleaning and also prevents any damage to any items that you may have forgotten in the backpack.

While backpack cleaning is relatively easy, checking the manufacturer’s guidelines before getting your hands dirty is better.

Your backpacks’ material might require special care. Therefore, some backpacks come with specific cleaning instructions.

Next up, gather your backpack maintenance supplies. You’ll need a bunch of things, so here’s a quick backpack cleaning checklist I prepared:

These supplies are essential if you’re looking for the best way to clean a backpack or considering DIY backpack cleaning.

5 Backpack Cleaning Methods

When it comes to reviving your beloved backpack, there are many cleaning methods to choose from.

My favorite way to go about it is to decide after considering the material of the backpack, the level of dirt, and the available cleaning supplies.

Let’s look at some effective cleaning methods to find which one will make your backpack look and smell good:

For most backpacks like these backpacks for digital noamds, hand washing is a safe and effective choice. Here’s how you can do it:

Hand Washing Backpack
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  1. Empty your backpack
  2. Use a soft brush or cloth to remove loose dirt and debris
  3. Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water
  4. Add a small amount of mild detergent to the water
  5. Submerge the backpack and use a sponge or soft brush to gently scrub the exterior
  6. Pay close attention to stains or soiled areas.
  7. Rinse the backpack thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of detergent
  8. Allow it to air dry completely
  9. Voila, your backpack is now as good as new!

If your backpack is machine-friendly, you can easily toss it in the washing machine for a quick clean. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Before turning the machine on, close all the zippers.
  2. Remove any detachable parts
  3. Use a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent
  4. Once the wash is complete, remove the backpack
  5. Check for for any damage
  6. Let it air dry and it’ll be all nice and clean!

You don’t have to wash the entire backpack every time.

Instead, spot cleaning is perfect for tackling stains like from food you had while traveling. Here’s how you can do it:

Spot Cleaning for Backpack
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  1. Mix a mild detergent with water
  2. Gently scrub the stained area with a soft cloth or sponge
  3. Rinse the cloth and wipe away any detergent residue
  4. This method is handy for quick touch-ups between thorough cleanings

For backpacks with more delicate details, like leather backpacks, dry cleaning is the safest option:

  • This method will help you skip to the good part!
  • All you need to do is hand over your backpack to a professional cleaner
  • Professional backpack cleaners have just the expertise and products needed to finely clean your backpack
  • It ensures a thorough yet gentle cleaning process

If your backpack has absorbed unpleasant odors, try this method before washing it:

  • Sprinkle baking soda inside it and leave it overnight
  • Banking soda absorbs almost all sorts of weird smells
  • Vacuum or shake out the baking soda the next day to eliminate the odors

Cleaning Different Types of Backpacks

Although we have seen some stellar cleaning methods above, here’s an in-depth insight how you can clean different backpacks:

Which Backpack Cleaning Method Is Best For My Backpack?

Canvas Backpack

Hand washing with mild detergent and water. Spot treat stains with a gentle stain remover.

Gentcreate Vintage Canvas Backpack “Og”

Nylon Backpack

Hand washing with a mild detergent and water. Avoid using harsh chemicals and air dry.


Leather Backpack

Gentle wiping with a damp cloth and a leather cleaner. Follow up with leather conditioner for maintenance.

King Kong Heritage Leather Backpack

Polyester Backpack

Hand washing with mild detergent and water. Ensure thorough rinsing and drying.

Jansport Superbreaker

XPAC Backpack

Hand wash the backpack in lukewarm water with a mild detergent. Gently scrub the fabric with a soft brush or cloth.

Boundary Supply Rennen Tote 

PVC Backpack

Use a mild detergent and water mixture to wipe the surface clean. You can also use a damp cloth or sponge for this purpose.

Nomatic Travel Bag 30L

Tarpaulin Backpack

Use a mixture of mild detergent and water to clean the surface. You can use a soft brush or cloth to scrub gently.

Wandrd Prvke Rolltop

Backpack Cleaning Do's and Don'ts

With some knowledge and lots of savvy know-how, cleaning your backpack can be easier than you imagine. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:


Backpacks from Aer, Nomatic or other brands come with specific cleaning recommendations

Ensure your backpack is completely empty before cleaning.

If you spot stains or spots, pre-treat them with a mild stain remover.

For DIY backpack cleaning, pick a mild detergent that is gentle on the fabric.

Hand washing is the go-to method for most backpacks.


Don’t forget the straps and zippers when washing, as it can lead to functionality issues

While you might be eager for your backpack to dry up soon, avoid using high or direct heat sources

After washing, don’t leave your backpack out for drying in direct sunlight

Avoid using a washing machine unless the manufacturer specifies it.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach.

Last Stop

Remember, backpack cleaning isn’t just about dirt and stains; it’s an act of love and preservation.

So, whether you’re wondering how to wash a backpack that’s seen too many trails or seeking the best way to clean a backpack for your next escapade, you now have all the info you’ll ever need!

These backpack care tips will keep your loyal bag looking sharp for every journey.

From DIY backpack cleaning hacks to learning how to remove stains from a canvas backpack, your pack will thank you.

So go ahead and embark on your next adventure with a clean and fresh companion by your side. Happy trails!

I would love to know your favorite backpacks in comments like I have reviewed my top picks here. Also, I am building my own backpack, so if it interests you, join me on my journey on the Nomads Nation YouTube Channel!

Written by Aaron Radcliffe

City dweller. Dumpling crusher. Aaron is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder of Nomads Nation. Connect with Aaron Radcliffe -