Washing a backpack – 2023 Hiking Backpack Washing Guide

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Are you wondering what washing a backpack will do to it? Will it ruin it? As a hiking obsessed mom, I’ve had my fair share of backpack problems both for school bags and for hiking.

red jack wolfskin hiking backpack against a eucalyptus tree

Your backpack is your lifeline when hiking and keeping it well-maintained and clean is essential for a comfortable and safe hike.

These backpacks are designed to be durable and not contribute to the issue of fast fashion and waste. 

So, the question is: how to wash a backpack?

how to wash deuter backpack
A little duct tape on my favorite Deuter bag keeps it going for decades.

HIKING GEAR TIPS: How to Wash a Hiking Backpack Safely

As an avid hiker and backpacker, I know firsthand the importance of keeping gear in good condition. One essential item that often gets overlooked in terms of maintenance is the backpack.

It’s easy to focus on keeping the contents organized and forget about the backpack itself.

But over time, dirt, sweat, and bacteria can build up and cause unpleasant odors or even damage the backpack material. From canvas backpacks to high tech nike backpacks, they all have different tolerances. You can even wash a Vera Bradley backpack.

That’s why I’m excited to share with you some tips and tricks for washing a hiking backpack to keep it clean, fresh, and in great condition for all your adventures.

Whether you’re trying to keep your bookbag clean or a seasoned backpacker, these techniques will help you maintain your backpack and get the most out of your outdoor experience.

Keep reading to find guides based on the specific instructions of each backpack brand.

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Brand Specific Cleaning Guides

Your backpack is your trusty companion on hikes, and keeping it well-maintained and clean is essential for a comfortable and safe hike.

With these essential hiking gear tips for maintaining and cleaning your backpack, you can ensure that your gear is in top shape and ready for your next adventure.

How to Clean Your Backpack [by Brand]

Detailed Guides on How to Clean According to the Manufacturer

The North Face How to Clean a Northface Backpack
Fjällräven KankenHow to Clean a Kanken Backpack
OspreyHow To Clean an Osprey Backpack
DeuterHow to Clean a Deuter Backpack
HerschelHow to Clean a Herschel Backpack
NikeHow to Clean a Nike Backpack
CanvasHow to Clean a Canvas Backpack
Vera BradleyHow to Clean a Vera Bradley Backpack
Jack WolfskinHow to Clean a Jack Wolfskin Backpack
JansportHow to Clean a Jansport Backpack

Looking to clean your backpack? Learn the best practices for washing a backpack and keeping it in top condition for all your outdoor adventures.

Our step-by-step guide will show you how to properly wash and disinfect your backpack to remove dirt, stains, and bacteria.

From hand washing to machine washing, we’ll cover all the methods for cleaning your backpack and keeping it fresh and odor-free. Say goodbye to grime and hello to a clean, like-new backpack with our expert tips and tricks for washing a backpack.

Backpack Cleaning Tips

Keeping your backpack clean is crucial for its longevity and functionality.

Protip: If you’re going to be using a back pack for hiking, I’d recommend these sturdy and colorful ➡️ Jack Wolfskin hiking backpacks. They are very durable and have both women’s and men’s sizing.

Say goodbye to dirt, stains, and bad odors with our helpful tips and tricks for backpack maintenance. Keep your backpack fresh and ready for your next adventure with our expert advice on washing a backpack.

Here are some essential backpack cleaning tips:

  • Empty your backpack and shake it out: Before cleaning your backpack, empty it out and shake it to remove any debris or dirt.
  • Spot clean with a damp cloth: For minor stains or spots, use a damp cloth and gentle soap to clean the affected area. Avoid using harsh chemicals or detergents that can damage the fabric.
  • Hand wash or machine wash: If your backpack is particularly dirty, you can hand wash it using a mild detergent and warm water. Make sure to rinse thoroughly and let it air dry. You can also machine wash your backpack on a gentle cycle, but make sure to remove any metal parts, such as buckles or zippers, before washing.
  • Apply a waterproofing spray: A waterproofing spray can protect your backpack from water damage, keeping your gear dry and safe.
  • Store your backpack properly: Store your backpack in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Avoid storing it in a damp or humid area, as it can cause mold and mildew to grow.

Backpack Maintenance Tips

An Ounce of Prevention!

2 girls with hiking backpacks at frankfurt airport one with yellow bag and both with hiking boots hanging off

Regular backpack maintenance can prevent minor problems from becoming major issues. Here are some essential backpack maintenance tips:

Protip: If you’re going to be using a back pack for school, I’d recommend these sturdy and colorful ➡️ Janpsort Backpacks. They are easy to clean backpacks.

  • Check for damages and wear and tear: Before and after every hike, inspect your backpack for any damages, such as broken zippers, loose straps, or holes. Address minor problems before they become major issues.
  • Tighten all the straps: Loose straps can cause discomfort and affect your balance, especially when hiking on rough terrain. Check all the straps, including the hip belt, shoulder straps, and load-lifter straps, and adjust them accordingly.
  • Keep your backpack dry: A wet backpack can cause mold and mildew to grow, affecting the integrity of the fabric. After every hike, make sure to dry your backpack thoroughly, especially the interior.

Happy hiking!


Can I wash my backpack in a washing machine?

It depends on the material of your backpack. Most backpacks made of synthetic fabrics can be washed in a washing machine on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. However, backpacks made of natural fibers or with leather accents should be hand washed to avoid damage.

Can I put my backpack in the dryer after washing it?

It’s not recommended to put your backpack in the dryer after washing it. High heat can damage the fabric and cause shrinkage. Instead, hang your backpack to air dry in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

How often should I wash my backpack?

It depends on how frequently you use your backpack and the conditions you use it in. As a general rule, you should wash your backpack at least once a year, or more often if it becomes visibly dirty or smelly. If you use your backpack for outdoor activities like hiking or camping, you may need to wash it more frequently to remove dirt, sweat, and other debris.

What is the best way to spot clean my backpack?

The best way to spot clean your backpack is to use a mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush. Dampen the brush with water and apply a small amount of detergent to the bristles. Gently scrub the affected area in a circular motion, taking care not to damage the fabric. Rinse the area with clean water and let it air dry.

We hope this guide filled with interesting information about how to wash a backpack has given you the proper information to plan your next adventure.

More Resources

Discover gear that elevates your outdoor adventures. As a physical therapist, I’ve curated product comparisons to enhance safety and enjoyment, perfect for beginners or those with weary knees.

Physical Therapist Curated Gear Guides for Hikers & Skiers

Like it? Share it to promote sustainable tourism.

Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.

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