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How to clean your backpack

25 April 2023

Your backpack is your trusty companion on all your outdoor adventures, carrying everything from snacks and water to emergency gear and extra layers. But let's be honest - after a while, it can start to look and smell like it's been through a few too many rugged trails. A good scrubbing will not only make your pack feel and smell fresh again, but it will also increase its lifespan. So grab your cleaning supplies and get ready to give your pack a little love - we're here to guide you through the process!

What you will need: 

A gentle and fragrance-free detergent 

Soft brush or a toothbrush 

Soft sponge 


Stain remover 


Preparing your backpack for cleaning 

Start by removing all the detachable parts, such as hip belts, and prepare to wash them separately. Open all pockets and compartments in your backpack and shake everything out to get rid of loose dirt. You can also vacuum the pack to remove stubborn debris like sand and crumbs.

If your backpack has stains, apply a stain remover with a soft brush directly onto the stain. Let the stain remover sit for 30 minutes before rinsing it off. Before using any stain remover, test it on a hidden area of your backpack to ensure it won't damage the colour or fabric.

Alternatively, you can create your own stain remover by mixing one part detergent with one part water. Apply the mixture to the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing it off thoroughly.


How to wash your backpack 

Fill a bathtub or sink with lukewarm water, and add a small amount of gentle, fragrance-free detergent. Don’t overdo it with the detergent; a small amount is often the most effective.

Submerge your backpack in the water and agitate it to loosen dirt and grime. Use a soft sponge to wash the backpack and a soft brush to scrub any stubborn stains or extra dirty areas. Avoid scrubbing too hard to prevent damaging the fabric. A toothbrush can be handy if you need to clean small or hard-to-reach areas. Once you have cleaned your backpack, rinse it with cool water to remove any remaining detergent.

Drying your backpack 

Gently squeeze out any remaining water and towel dry as thoroughly as possible. Hang your backpack upside down to air dry and hang it over a tub or outside in the shade as it drips significantly. Avoid hanging your pack to dry in direct sunlight as this may cause the colour to fade and the fabric to weaken over time. Additionally, do not use heat to dry your backpack as it can harm the fabric and hardware.

Tips for maintaining your backpack 

Regular maintenance is key to prolonging the life of your backpack, whether you're using it for a day hike, a weekend camping trip, or a long-term backpacking adventure. Here are some essential tips for maintaining your backpack and keeping it fresh and clean for longer:

  • As soon as you get home, remove wet clothes to prevent mould and mildew.

  • Remove remaining food, snacks and garbage to avoid attracting pests or causing unpleasant odours.

  • Vacuum your backpack regularly to remove crumbs, sand and other loose dirt.

  • Clean stains as soon as they appear with a soft sponge and lukewarm water with a mild dish soap.

  • Wipe down your pack regularly with a damp cloth to remove dirt and grime.

  • Always store your backpack when it’s dry to prevent moisture from setting in and causing mould and mildew buildup. 

Frequently asked questions about cleaning backpacks