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How to Properly Clean a Backpack

Make this school year a clean one.

Kids with backpacks running to a school bus.

From juice stains, to dirt, to sticky hands, your kids' backpack can go from clean to dirty by the time they come home. You're looking for an easy cleaning solution but the washing machine is not always that. Most canvas, nylon, and fabric backpacks are washing machine friendly, but be sure to check the care instructions first. Leather or embroidery details on a backpack however, should never go in the washing machine.


An important tip to maintaining a clean backpack to to empty out its contents every night. Remove any uneaten food, dirty containers, crumbs, or garbage that has been left inside. If you see stains or dirt marks it might be time to give it a wash.


Girl wearing backpack.

Option 1:

Wash the Backpack in a Washing Machine

  1. Empty out everything in the backpack. Make sure to double check all interior and exterior pockets.

  2. Turn the backpack inside out. This will prevent the straps or zippers from damaging the washing machine.

  3. Shake the backpack to dump out any crumbs or debris.

  4. Place the backpack in the washing machine, add your detergent, and wash it on a gentle cycle in cold water.

  5. When done, air dry the backpack.

Quick Tip: Avoid air drying the backpack under direct sunlight as this could damage the fabric or cause the colors to fade.


Purple backpack.

Option 2:

Hand Wash the Backpack

  1. Empty out everything in the backpack. Make sure to double check all interior and exterior pockets.

  2. Turn the backpack inside out and shake out any crumbs or debris.

  3. For stains, gently scrub the stain with a toothbrush and some mild detergent. Let it sit for 20 minutes.

  4. Soak the backpack in a bucket filled with lukewarm water and mild detergent. Use 1 teaspoon for detergent for every cup of water.

  5. Gently scrub the backpack with a microfiber cloth.

  6. When done, rinse the backpack in another bucked filled with cold water. Rinse until all soap is removed.

  7. Finish by air drying the backpack.

Quick Tip: Avoid air drying the backpack under direct sunlight as this could damage the fabric or cause the colors to fade.

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