Backpacks, no matter how they are advertised as super durable; the daily wear and tear would eventually take a toll on them. Regularly wiping them down with a non-abrasive cleaning cloth could minimize dirt accumulation, and add up to its longevity, but if your backpack starts to smell or appear really dirty, it’s time to give them a good old spin in the washer or wash them by hand.
For machine washing, please take note that not all backpacks are designed to be machine washable, so always check for the manufacturer’s washing instructions and no-no’s.
To start, make sure that the bag is emptied and all the pockets and compartments are unzipped. Check for small items you might have overlooked. If the bag has a metal frame, remove it first before washing. Next, check if the bag could freely move and tumble inside your washer. If possible, put your backpack in a laundry bag first to prevent the straps from getting caught. You could also use a large pillowcase for this purpose. Otherwise, just turn the bag inside out. Run the machine through an empty wash first to get rid of any residues from the previous washings. When you’re ready to wash your backpack, use only a small amount of gentle detergent. Wash the bag in a gentle cycle with cool water. Once it’s done, do not place your backpack in a dryer. Take it out of the washer and hang it to dry.
If your bag is too bag for your machine, do not worry; you could hand wash it in your tub. You may fill the tub with lukewarm water. Do not use hot water, as it may cause the colors to run. Add a small amount of detergent-free soap in the water and scrub your bag gently. Focus on the areas that are particularly dirty. Lastly, rinse your bag and hang it out to dry naturally.
If your bag is not designed to be washed or to be fully submerged, you can clean it with a damp towel with a little detergent-free soap.