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How to Wash a Backpack in the Washer

Share this expert tip!

If you’ve got kids, you’ve got dirty backpacks. There is no time like summertime to clean up backpacks to reuse in the fall. And why not? You can easily throw a backpack in the washer if you know the right way to do it.

Clean a Backpack in the Washer in 5 Easy Steps

Learn how to wash a backpack by following these step-by-step instructions, and the next time someone asks you, “Can you wash a backpack in a washing machine?” you’ll feel like the resident expert.

Step #1 – Empty the Backpack 

Needless to say, you need to take everything out of the backpack before washing it. Everything. Check all the pockets, pouches, zippers, etc., and make sure they are completely empty.

Run your fingers carefully inside the crevices to make sure no tiny pieces of paper or crayons are hiding.

Step #2 – Take Off All Removable Parts

Backpack accessories are very popular and are often affixed to zippers and straps. Remove accessories from the backpack. Additionally, take off any removable straps, detachable components, or metal that you can. You can handwash these pieces separately if they are not machine washable.

If all removable parts are washable, you can place them in a laundry bag and toss them in when you put the backpack in the washer.

Step #3 – Pretreat Stains

Soak the removable parts in 1 part detergent to 1 part warm water for 15-30 minutes. Use a toothbrush or dish brush to gently scrub any stains or grime out of pockets, straps, and whatever needs cleaning.

For the backpack, use the detergent/water solution and a brush to treat stains before adding to the washing machine.

how to wash a backpack
Image from Clean My Space


Step #4 – Disinfect & Wash the Backpack

Disinfect: Can you put a school backpack in the washer to disinfect it? You bet. However, you may only need to disinfect a backpack occasionally. If the backpack was used to carry any items that may contain sweat, bacteria, or fungus (i.e. gym clothes, shoes, etc.) you should disinfect the backpack before washing it.

Before you wash with detergent, add a product with at least 80% Pine Oil to the washing machine. Products such as PineSol and Lysol Pine Action fit the bill. Follow the product label for the recommended amount to use in the washer.

Place the backpack in a large laundry bag. If you are disinfecting any removable parts, place them in a separate laundry bag. Run a gentle wash cycle with warm water and disinfectant.

Wash: Add the recommended amount of laundry detergent to your washer. Place the backpack in a large laundry bag. If you are washing any removable parts, place them in a separate laundry bag. Run a gentle wash cycle with warm water, and opt for the extra rinse cycle if possible.

can you wash a backpack in a washing machine
Image from Amazon


Step #5 – Air Dry Thoroughly

You did it! You conquered washing a backpack in the washer. Now that you’re the proud owner of a freshly cleaned backpack, let the backpack and all the parts air dry completely. If the weather is nice you can dry everything outside, just make sure nothing is in direct sunlight to avoid sun-bleaching fabric colors.

Interested in more washer tips? Check out this blog on How to Wash a Rug in the Washing Machine.


Toxey McDavid

Owner, Service Care

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