How to Wash a Backpack

Last Updated on September 26, 2020

How to wash a backpack

Is the backpack allowed in the washing machine? Our instructions for washing, drying, removing stubborn dirt and impregnating backpacks. Florian Glott explains how it’s done – and what you should avoid.

Whether it’s a daypack, touring or trekking backpack – once you’ve found your perfect small backpack, you want to keep it for a long time. For you to enjoy your faithful companion for a long time, you should cleanse and care for it properly.

Below I give you tips on how to properly wash your backpack and remove unpleasant odors – and I’ll show you if the old home remedies help!

The mechanical stresses in the machine can ultimately damage not only this coating but also the buckles and other components.

Attention: Right at the beginning, a backpack should never be put in the washing machine or the dryer. The inner sides of the pack sacks are usually coated with polyurethane (PU) to be waterproof to a certain extent.

How Often Do I Have to Clean My Backpack?

The best way to clean your backpack after each tour. Whether after a hot summit in the summer or a muddy mountain bike in winter: the backpack should be cleaned immediately thereafter. This not only protects the backpack but also does the least amount of work.

The inside just wipes with a damp microfiber cloth. Before that, however, all the stones, sand or spruce needles in the backpack should be shaken out or sucked off.


Since the dirt has not had time to settle properly in the material, it is often enough to breathe the backpack with lukewarm water under the shower. You should express all padded parts such as shoulder and hip belt or back pad a few times like a sponge, to rinse them properly.

How Do I Wash My Backpack Correctly?

If the backpack is heavily soiled after a tour lasting several days and sweat edges have formed, you should wash the backpack properly.


Before you start, you should first shake out or testify the rucksack and, if present, remove the carrying rack.


Coarse and already dried dirt should be brushed off first or shed in the shower.


Under no circumstances may you use aggressive or chlorinated detergents. These destroy the PU coating.


After a short time, you can remove impurities on the outside with a not too hard brush or a microfibre cloth. The inside should also be wiped off with a microfibre cloth.


After you have cleaned the good piece properly, you should rinse the backpack thoroughly to remove all detergent leftovers.

You can wash your hunting pack, for example in the bathtub or a larger wash basin. Simply fill them with a little lukewarm water, add a suitable detergent and soak the rucksack. As a detergent I recommend, for example, the Tech Wash by Nikwax.

Press all foam parts a few times in washing water. Thus, the resulting sweat edges disappear, which are mainly composed of salt, skin fat and possibly sunscreen.

You should also take care of the zippers. Simply clean them with a toothbrush in the water.

How Do I Dry the Backpack Correctly?

After you have washed the backpack, it should dry well, so that no mold, mildew and unpleasant odors.

Firstly press out all foam parts by hand and hang the backpack upside down, so that all water can drain completely from the individual compartments. You should either hang it up in a well-ventilated room, such as in the bath above the bath or, of course, outdoors.

If the backpack is completely dry, you should spray the zippers with a little silicone spray and pull the lock on and off a few times.

What to Do With Spills, Mold, and Odors?

Spills should be wiped as quickly as possible with a damp cloth to prevent odors and mold – especially if you are on a longer tour. If the liquid has dried out a bit, you can also use a mild shower gel or mild soap to get it out of the travel bag.

If the stains cannot be eliminated completely, or if even unpleasant odors have formed, you can not avoid a complete backpack wash as described above.

The same applies to existing mold. If this is the case, you should wash the backpack thoroughly to eliminate all mold spores. These may otherwise be transferred to your clothing or provisions.

If, despite thorough cleaning and proper drying, foxing and odors remain, remedies such as the Mikrobac® forte (available, for example, in the pharmacy) help. This effectively eliminates bacteria and mold and does not attack the backpack.

Dilute as indicated and either soak the rucksack or wipe the compartments thoroughly with a cloth. When soaking, always pay attention to the exposure time.

Beware of Household Tips

On the Internet, you will find various tips, such as you should wipe his backpack with vinegar or coffee grounds. But I advise against that. The coffee only covers the smell for a short time, as does the vinegar.

Although the acetic acid could eliminate mold spores, the PU coating is not resistant to acetic acid and would be damaged. Yet, if you want to try home remedies, you should first consult resistance lists for materials on the internet.

How to wash a backpack

How do I store a backpack correctly?

For the backpack, what you should follow for outdoor equipment: The backpack should always store in a dry and ventilated place if not in use to protect it from the mold. It is important that the backpack is completely dried before it is stowed in the closet.

Tip: Impregnation protects the backpack

Especially in the mountains, the backpack upper suffers from high UV radiation and ages rapidly.

Therefore, I recommend you to impregnate the backpack now and then. Means like the Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarproof are available here. The impregnation itself is very easy and just as in the tent impregnation perform.


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