Keep Your Work Backpack Clean With These Four Tips

Backpacks have come a long way from simply being a hiking accessory to a fashionable way of carrying essentials for people of all ages. A dirty bag is inevitable, especially when you’re constantly carrying it around to work, school, or when running errands. Whether you’re carrying gym clothes, school supplies, or snacks for the kids, your backpack will eventually need a good cleaning.

Fortunately enough, most bags don’t require frequent cleaning. Because backpacks are designed to take a beating, washing them a few times a year may suffice, unless you have a big spill or mess to deal with. Of course, proper maintenance also helps you avoid a filthy bag. In cases where you can’t avoid the dirt, you should take specific considerations when washing your backpack.

Here are four tips you should keep in mind when cleaning your backpack:

Take Note of the Backpack’s Material

With most backpacks, it is recommended that you either hand or machine-wash them, depending on your preference. Most bags made from nylon or canvas fabrics that are safe to put in the washer. However, bags that are made of leather or have leather trim will need to be treated and cleaned with a leather cleaner and soft damp cloth. 

Before you wash a backpack, look for any labels with washing instructions. This will tell you the material of the bag and help you decide how to proceed. For example, cotton or polyester bags can go into the washer on a gentle cycle, but you shouldn’t wash bags made from waterproof fabric regularly or they may lose their impermeability.

Use Lukewarm or Cool Water

Hot water is a superior cleaning solvent. The high temperatures help to dissolve dirt more easily than cold water. But contrary to popular opinion, using hot water may do more harm than good when cleaning backpacks. Depending on the pack’s material, hot water may damage the fabric’s color or even the material itself.

As such, it’s advisable to use lukewarm or cool water when washing your backpack. This tip applies to both hand and machine washing. The moderate temperature of lukewarm water effectively removes stains without damaging the fabric. Scrubbing the bag with a soft brush or cloth also minimizes any damage to the material when washing.

Occasionally Disinfect the Backpack

A dirty backpack is a breeding place for harmful bacteria. Every once in a while, it’s crucial to disinfect your bag to avoid common health infections. This tip is especially vital when using your backpack to carry gym clothes: diseases such as Athlete’s foot fungus may occur when you forget your shoes inside the bag for several days, especially after a sweaty workout.

When disinfecting your pack, avoid chlorine bleaches which will damage the material. Instead, use pine oil disinfectants, which are effective with warm water. As an added advantage, pine oil does not harm any fabrics. Pine oil disinfectants come in liquids, sprays, and wipes. You need to choose the most appropriate one based on the pack’s material.

Avoid Using a Dryer

While modern electronic dryers are a convenient method of drying clothes, you may want to avoid putting your bag in one, no matter what the material is. The intense heat inside could shrink your backpack, damage the glue used in stitching it together and ruin the zippers or pull tabs. The heat can also damage the fabric or degrade it over time. 

Always allow the bag to air dry with its zippers and pockets open. You can use a dry towel to wipe the insides of the pack. It’s advisable to hang the backpack upside down on a clothesline away from direct sunlight to avoid UV damage. Make sure it is completely dry before using it again: a damp pack attracts molds.

Make Your Bag Look New Again

A clean backpack could be what you need to get you excited about the upcoming school year, a new job, or simply another day at the office or running errands. You can also use a mild washing detergent that carries a unique and fresh scent on your backpack wherever you go for a fresh scent on the go. Keep your backpack clean with these simple tips and prolong the life of your backpack for years to come. 

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.