The Ultimate Guide on How to Wash Your Bags and Keep Your Backpacks Brand-new

In this day and age, it is no doubt that people's demand for backpacks is growing significantly. Backpacks are used by most individuals of all ages for a variety of functions and needs, including going to school, walking, travelling, storing equipment, and working. And the life of the backpack depends on how you maintain and clean them.

The question is, do you know how to do it properly? In this guide from the CabinZero team, we will walk you through the essential principles of the backpack washing know-hows and clear instructions to keep your backpacks last for a lifetime. 

The CabinZero Step-by-step Guide on Backpack Washing and Cleaning

Step 1: Read the notes and check carefully on the care label of your backpack before washing it.  

Each backpack will have a different care label depending on the materials made and features. In order to get the appropriate way to wash your backpack and avoid damage, don’t forget to check the backpack's care label. Always follow the backpack's care instructions label to ensure that you're not damaging it when you wash it.

If there isn't a label, test the fabric with roughly a quarter teaspoon of detergent in a less apparent area first to avoid fading or damage. Care labels are normally found along a side seam, most likely in the main zipper compartment inside the backpack.

A backpack’s care labels normally provide instructions for cleaning and drying the bag to preserve its longevity.

You should take note of any typical notes on the backpack's care label, such as not washable in washing machines or not suitable with bleach or dryer, so that when washing the backpacks, you can avoid those things.

Laundry symbol meaning







Tumble drying


Natural drying




Professional cleaning

Chemical cleaning


Wet cleaning

 Wet cleaning

Step 2: Remove all objects from the backpack before washing

It is necessary to remove all the items in the backpack before washing because those objects might fade and stick to the bag's surface, causing damage to your bag.

First, we empty every pocket, open every compartment and leave the pockets unzipped.

Then we brush off dirt and buildup on the outside of the bag and shake it off to remove any dirt or crumbs. You can also use a vacuum attachment to clean the seams on the inside and outside.

All metal frames, removable straps, side compression straps, chest belts and hip belts should be removed.

Next, we cut away any loose threads or frayed fibres near the zipping areas. This makes sure that your backpack is totally clean, you will have a backpack free of snagged and stuck zippers.

Remove all objects from the backpack before washing
IG: @carapaucostante

Step 3: Choose a washing method for different backpack fabrics

After reading the important information on the care label, the next important step is to choose an appropriate washing method for your kind of bags, such as machine wash or hand wash.

If your backpack doesn't have a care label or if the label is blurry, you should choose the appropriate procedure based on the fabric's nature. There is currently a variety of specialist textiles for backpacks, including 100% nylon (polyester), cotton, non-woven, and lining fabric.

Fabric made entirely of nylon (polyester) is difficult to wrinkle, does not shrink or stretch when washed, and may be washed by machine or by hand.

Materials like cotton, nonwovens, and lining fabrics are especially easy to wrinkle and stretch. As a result, you should not wash this fabric backpack by machine, but rather by hand.

Step 4: Choose a detergent 

Choose a detergent

Photo by nndanko -

Add a gentle amount of detergent to the water. The detergent that you use must be a gentle detergent that is free of dyes, fragrances, and chemicals, because harsh chemicals can harm the fabric of your backpack (by reducing the effectiveness of the waterproofing layers on the bag fabric), and scents and colours can irritate your skin.

100% nylon/polyester fabric has the characteristic of being difficult to fade, but you should also not choose a detergent that is too strong. As for other types of fabric backpacks, you need to choose gentle detergents such as specialized Woolite bleach for fabrics. And you should only use it in moderation! 

Don't worry if you come across stains on the surface of your bag when cleaning it, such as moulds or greasy food. You simply need to use the following 4 options to get rid of them:

1. Green tea essential oil

All you need is a clean white cloth dipped in green tea solution, then you wipe it down with this towel over and over until the dirt is gone. Finally, give it a good rinse with cold water and set it aside to dry.

Green tea essential oil
Photo by Amy Lv -
2. Vinegar

They are also a very good detergent in dealing with moulds and grease. To begin, soak a clean cotton towel in vinegar, then wipe away the moulds with it until it is totally gone, and clean it again with cold water and dry it.

3. Alcohol solution

Also known as diluted alcohol, this is an efficient bleach for destroying moulds and bacteria, just like the above detergents, you need to use a clean cotton towel. After that, soak the towel in alcohol. Then, using this alcohol-soaked towel, wipe away all the moulds stains. Finally, wash and dry the backpack with clean water.

4. Baking soda is also very effective in killing moulds.

Baking soda is also very effective in killing moulds.
Photo by Igor Dudchak -

First, you need to sprinkle baking soda on the moulds stains, wait for a few minutes, then use a cotton cloth to wipe it off. After that, the backpack should then be washed and dried with clean water. As a result, the moulds have been eliminated.

Step 5: Turn the backpack inside out or place it in a laundry sack/pillowcase before washing

The pillowcase and laundry sack will prevent the straps and zippers from becoming tangled in the machine and causing damage to both the bag and the machine. The straps and decorative motifs will not fade or damage the fabric if you do this. 

Step 6: It's time to start washing the backpack!

There are 2 methods to wash your backpacks: machine wash or hand wash. Read on further as we will dive deeper into these 2 methods in the latter part of this guide. 

Step 7: How to correctly dry out backpacks? 

After the machine has done its job in washing the backpack, take it out and remove the laundry sack or pillowcase if you used it. If you wash the backpack by hand, remove the water by rinsing it to dry.

If you have the habit of using a dryer to dry your clothes, be aware that some types of fabric can be used with a dryer while some others cannot.

Deodorise with sun exposure

IG: @estemariee 

Backpacks made of nylon fabric can be dried straight in the sun, because nylon cloth does not lose its characteristics when exposed to the sun. Furthermore, this fabric can withstand high temperatures (160 degrees), a nylon backpack can be dried with a dryer.

You should not use a dryer to dry backpacks made of cotton, non-woven, or lined textiles since the heat of the dryer will alter the fibres. Moreover, these textiles do not hold up well when exposed to the sun during periods of intense heat.

After washing these backpacks, hang them to dry in a cool and dry area. In addition, when leaving the backpack to dry, make sure you turn it upside down and open all the compartments. Then hang it up by hooking it to the bag strap.

Machine wash method

You first put the backpack in the washing machine. It will depend on the quantity of your bag, if you’re washing 1 bag, you can pour 1 – 2 tbsp of the gentle detergent into the machine.

Next, set the machine to gentle cycle washing mode to avoid stretching the fabric and damaging the backpack. When washing backpacks, keep in mind that cold water is best. This will prevent your backpack from fading and stretching.

Furthermore, while washing the backpack, you must occasionally check to see if the backpack is sucked into a fixed position in the washing machine so that there can be an appropriate adjustment.

Hand wash method

We start by mixing a basin of warm water, but don't use too hot water because it can fade the fabric's colour and harm it. After that, add a few drops of gentle detergent and soak the backpack for 30 minutes.

After that, gently scrub the backpack with a soft toothbrush or a sponge that you no longer use. As a result, the stains on the backpack's fabric will all vanish. Finally, you just need to wash it with clean cold water.

How to keep your backpack in good condition? 

In order to keep the backpack durable and moulds-free, it must be properly maintained. There are several hacks and tips that you can apply to your backpacks to make them stay longer. 

Deodorise with sun exposure


On average, we should leave our backpacks to dry in the sun once for about 2 hours to keep backpacks and bags clear and clean (do not expose to strong sunlight) every month. The time should be between 8 AM and 10 PM or 2 PM and 5 PM. 

Deodorise with sun exposure

IG: @nick_chaidos

Avoid places with high temperatures and humidity

Although today's bags and backpacks are usually composed of smart materials that are waterproof and heat-resistant. However, we should not leave our backpacks and bags in a place with hot temperatures and high humidity because they will be affected in the long term. We should leave the backpack in a place where the temperatures are >10 degrees and <40 degrees Celsius. 

Always bring a raincoat/rain cover

Although many backpacks now have a specialised rain cover attached, it is recommended to bring a rain cover to avoid the rain and protect your backpack well.

If you accidentally get caught in the rain and your backpack gets wet, you should always dry it to avoid moulds.

Avoid using sharp or pointed objects in the backpack

Even though backpacks and bags are made of durable materials, they will be damaged if they clash with sharp items.

Avoid overloading backpacks and bags

Each backpack or bag is designed specifically and has a limit, if you try to exceed the limit, it will seriously affect the quality of the backpack. This will also affect your posture as well as not guarantee the absolute safety of the camera or the lens you carry.

To summarize, while washing backpacks, you should follow all the above procedures and have a practical way to store them afterwards to ensure that your backpack remains durable, clean, and mould-free.

Good luck with the bag washing and make it stay brand-new!

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