A backpack is one of the most essential pieces of gear you will ever purchase. It needs cleaning, and here are some great ways to do it.

This article includes instructions on how to wash a backpack in the washer. It also contains other cleaning tips that will help keep your gear clean and free of bacteria.

Let’s face it: your gear could need a good cleaning. Backpacks, sling bags, down coats, and other similar items get soiled as you use them daily or on the road. It’s also likely that you haven’t cleaned your equipment in a long time.

So, in this article, we’ll go through how to wash a backpack and cleaning guidelines for other regularly used items of gear (down jackets, shoes, laptops, and phones).

Important Note: We’ve discovered that these cleaning procedures work for us and should work for most devices. If in doubt, consult the product’s label or the manufacturer’s website, and follow the manufacturer’s care recommendations.

Let’s get started since we’ve got a lot to talk about.

The adjective “mild” comes to mind when it comes to cleaning most of the gear discussed in this article: # BornToBeMild—mild soap, moderate water temperature, light scrubbing, mild drying temperature. But you don’t want to end up causing needless harm to your gear or shortening its lifetime. Many items cannot be machine cleaned, and if they can, they should be done in the gentlest setting possible. To be cautious, we usually hand-wash most of our gear.

Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks Hand-washing

Use a mild soap whether you’re washing by machine or by hand. Preferably one designed particularly for the gear or substance you’re cleaning. For example, if you’re washing Merino wool garments, use Merino wool-specific detergent (we have a complete guide on Merino wool and how to wash it, so check it out if you haven’t already).

Air-drying your gear (either hanging up or lying flat, depending on the item) is typically the safest alternative, although it isn’t rapid. Putting anything in the dryer, close to an artificial heat source, or in direct sunlight for lengthy periods might cause it to over-dry and cause harm. Especially if the item you’re cleaning has bonding ingredients (glue) or a waterproof finish, such as shoes or a backpack.

Now let’s get down to business. Are you all set? Good.

How to Clean a Backpack?

Please take a minute to unzip all of the compartments and make sure your backpack is empty before you start cleaning it. It may sound self-evident, but you don’t want to squander your unique ideas notepad or that one photo of your cat from Halloween because you didn’t take the time to double (or triple) check.

Remove the AccessoriesAccessories should be removed.

Also, this is an excellent time to remove any detachable parts from your bag, such as the sternum strap, hip belt, back panel/frame sheet, etc. It simplifies the washing procedure by removing any hanging straps.

Okay, now it’s time to do some laundry.

Wipe Off Dirt and DustDust and dirt should be wiped away.

Shake off any loose dirt, dust, or sand from the pack’s interior, and brush off any that has accumulated on the outside. Dry soil is typically more superficial to remove than sticky muck.

Soaking the BackpackTaking a Bath with the Backpack.

Using a tiny quantity of mild soap, soak the backpack in lukewarm water (a little soap goes a long way).

Wiping Backpack with SpongeUsing a Sponge to Clean the Backpack.

Wipe down the whole bag with a sponge or rag. Don’t forget to wash the pockets as well! Remember that light cleaning is usually better.

Pay special attention to sweat-prone regions such as the shoulder straps, back panel, and hip belt. Feel free to add a bit extra soap and scrub a little more complicated—if your purse smells terrible, it’s probably because of these places. Plus, if any of these straps or belts have been removed, you may wash them individually, simpler things.

Scrubbing Zippers with ToothbrushUsing a Toothbrush to Scrub Zippers.

You may also give the zippers some additional attention if sticky or jammed. Brush the teeth of the zipper lightly with a toothbrush. To prevent harming the zipper, clean it gently, just as you would the rest of the bag (incredibly waterproof zippers). After cleaning, YKK suggests using paraffin wax or similar lubricant to waterproof and lubricate the zippers.

Rinsing the BackpackPutting the Backpack Through Its Paces.

It’s time to rinse your luggage once you’ve washed it thoroughly. Rinse it with clean water until no more bubbles appear on the bag; this may take several rounds.

Hanging Backpack to DryBackpack drying on a hook.

After rinsing your backpack, unzip all zipped pockets and hang it upside down to dry. Hang any external components you’ve taken out of the bag as well. Water will not collect at the bottom of the compartments if you hang your bag upside down with all the pockets open. If you’re turning the bag indoors, avoid using artificial heat sources since they might cause the material to crack or get damaged by over-drying it. If you’re hanging it outdoors, keep it out of direct sunlight as much as possible since UV rays may be harmful to water-resistant textiles.

That’s all there is to it! Before reassembling your backpack, using it again, or storing it, make sure it’s scorched. Mold may readily form if there is any moisture left in your bag, making it smell much worse than before you cleansed it. (Like when you leave a load of clothes in the washing machine for three days and forget about it.)

What Is The Best Way To Wash A Down Jacket?

Down jackets are generally one of the few clothing items that can be washed and dried. But hold off on tossing it in just yet—there are a few guidelines to follow to prevent clumping or harming the down. As previously said, we prefer to hand-wash the majority of our goods therefore we’ll go through both techniques below.

REI 650 Down Jacket 2.0 In KentuckyIn Kentucky, REI 650 Down Jacket 2.0

Let’s start with the washing machine.

Necessary: Only use a front-loading or top-loading washing machine without an agitator to wash your down jacket. The agitator in the center of most top-loading washers may harm the down inside your jacket.

Using a Washing Machine and Dryer

Make sure you empty your pockets before tossing your down jacket into the washing machine at random. You don’t want to smear your pricey jacket with a stray lip balm container.

Close All the Zippers

  • All the zippers should be closed.

Zip up all the zippers and fix any additional flaps or closures on your jacket while the pockets are empty.

Putting Jacket into Washer

  • Putting the Jacket in the Washing Machine

Place the jacket in your washing machine and use cold water on the gentle cycle. Turn the spin cycle off! Wet down is heavy, and spinning it too fast (during the spin cycle) will cause it to clump and compress, causing the jacket to be damaged.

It’s also preferable if you can use a specific downwash. Normal-strength detergent may deplete the skin’s natural oils, causing it to become brittle.

One cycle may not be enough to remove all of the soap from the jacket, so you may need to wash it twice or three times.

Putting Jacket in Dryer with Tennis Balls

  • Putting Tennis Balls in the Dryer with the Jacket.

It’s time to dry this object after all of the soap has been washed away. Although the jacket may be damp, avoid the impulse to dry it, since this can compress and harm the down. Toss the coat, along with a couple of tennis balls or specialized down balls, into the dryer. While the down is drying, the balls will help break up any clumps.

Allow the dryer to tumble dry on low heat while you relax. You’ll probably have to put the jacket through the dryer a few times to get it entirely dry since it’s so damp.

When it’s dry, you’ll be ready for any (cold) adventure that comes your way.

Even though many down coats are compressible, they should not be stored compressed. When not in use, hang your jacket to keep the down fluffy and provide more excellent insulation for longer.


Hand-washing is the way to go if you don’t have access to a washer and dryer or if you don’t want your down jacket to be destroyed. It’s also not very challenging.

First, empty all pockets, zip-up all zippers, and secure any other closures on your jacket, as is customary.

Fill a tub or sink halfway with lukewarm water and a downwash of your choice (regular detergent can strip the down of its natural oils, making it brittle).

Soaking Jacket in Soapy Water

  • Jacket Soaking in Soapy Water

Soak the down jacket in the soapy water and gently agitate it to remove any dirt and allow the soap to penetrate. Gently is the important word here. Twist or wring the jacket to avoid clumping, to compress, and perhaps to damage the down.

Allow 30–60 minutes for the jacket to soak. The longer your jacket absorbs, the dirtier it is.

Rinsing Jacket in Clean Water

  • Using Clean Water to Rinse the Jacket

It’s time to take your jacket out and rinse it after you’re pleased with the soak. We’ve discovered that transferring the down jacket into another tub or sink with clean water is the quickest method to rinse it. Remove the jacket, empty the tub/sink, fill it with clean water, and re-insert the coat if you only have one.

When moving the wet jacket, take additional precautions to keep it level and equally supported. When the down is damp, it is more prone to clump, and lifting it by one location may cause the down to settle unevenly (which is not ideal).

Laying Out Jacket to Dry

  • Putting the Jacket Out to Dry

Lay the jacket flat on a drying rack or table with the arms spread out after rinsing off the soap. Hanging the jacket might cause the down to settle unevenly once more. If possible, check on the coat every couple of hours while drying. As the coat dries, fluff it up. Look for clusters and split them apart if you see any. To minimize mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors, ensure everything is dehydrated before storing it.

Isn’t it that bad?

How Do You Clean Your Shoes?

Nobody loves stinky, filthy shoes (nobody we know, anyway). And while you’re at home between excursions, there’s no better time to clean your shoes. Furthermore, owning a new (or new-looking) pair of sneakers may make you feel good and improve your style when visiting a new place. Or, you know, going to the supermarket.

Putting Baking Soda in ShoesUsing Baking Soda to Deodorize Shoes

If you’re searching for a fast fix for worn shoes, baking soda could be the way to go. Fill the insole with just enough baking soda to cover it (no need to make a sandbox). Allow the shoes to air out overnight before shaking them the following day. Remove any residual baking soda with a vacuum.

If your shoes need a little extra TLC, it’s probably time for a thorough cleaning. Although particular shoes are machine washable (check before putting them in), we prefer to hand-wash them whenever possible. The washer won’t get into all the nooks and crannies as effectively as possible, and the dryer’s heat and tumbling may cause unnecessary harm. As a result, we’ll address hand-washing in this section.

Taking Apart Shoes Before WashingBefore you wash your shoes, take them apart.

Remove the insoles and laces first. Then, remove any loose dirt, sludge, or debris with your hands.

Soaking Shoes in Soapy WaterSoaking Soapy Water in Shoes

Fill a basin or tub with lukewarm water and mild soap or special shoe soap (you guessed it). Make sure it’s big enough to soak the shoes entirely, then toss them in with the insoles and laces.

If your shoes are filthy (maybe while hiking on muddy paths), soak them wholly immersed for 15 minutes or fewer. We don’t think you should drink much longer.

Wiping Shoes with SpongeUsing a Sponge to Clean Shoes

Scrub the shoes gently with a sponge or a rag. While you’re at it, carefully clean the laces and insoles. Spend a little additional time wiping the insides of your shoes since here is where sweat and scents tend to accumulate (and the whole point of cleaning your boots is to get rid of that sweaty-feet-funk). You may also clean any built-up dirt out of the ridges on the bottoms of the outsoles using a toothbrush.

Please remove your shoes, insoles, and laces from the soapy water after being properly cleaned. Using clean water, rinse all the pieces until the soap is gone. You may give them a little push to assist them to release some of the absorbed moisture, but don’t twist or wring them.

Laying Out Shoes to DryPutting Shoes Out to Dry

Set aside all of the pieces to air dry individually. Pull the tongue of the shoes as far up/out as possible to help them dry. You may also pack them with paper to soak up some extra moisture and speed up the drying process. To speed up the drying process, avoid utilizing an artificial heat source—this may over-dry your shoes and cause the materials to become brittle.

Pro Tip: As an eco-friendly technique to assist speed up the drying process, stuff your wet shoes with an old newspaper that would otherwise be thrown away.

You may reassemble your shoes, lace them up, and go out to get them filthy again once everything is dehydrated.

Cleaning Laptops and Phones

Laptops and phones, let’s face it, are filthy. They gather all the bad stuff from our hands and are seldom cleaned properly. Washing your hands 50 times a day is pointless if you’re immediately recontaminating them with your filthy phone and laptop.

Here’s how to clean your most-used electronic devices. Let’s begin with your laptop.

Keeping Your Laptop Clean

Make sure your laptop is disconnected and switched off before you start cleaning.

Cleaning Laptop Vents

  • Vent Cleaning for Laptops

The first thing you may do is blast out any crumbs or dust accumulated within your computer using compressed air. Use brief bursts of compressed air to spray into any open vents while holding your compressed air can three to five inches away from your laptop.

You may detach the back panel and gently spray compressed air inside the laptop if it’s in serious need of cleaning. To avoid disconnecting or damaging any components, short bursts and a three to five-inch spacing are advised here. The warranty on your laptop may be invalidated if you remove the rear panel. So before removing anything, double-check the warranty information and don’t do anything if it violates the warranty.

Wiping Keyboard with Cloth

  • Using a Cloth to Wipe the Keyboard

The keyboard comes next. Start by cleaning the keyboard down with a dry microfiber towel or blasting it with compressed air to clean it (or both). The purpose is to remove stray crumbs, dust, hair, and other debris. The keys on certain keyboards may be removed, which is helpful if there are enough crumbs to feed a family of mice. Snap them off and use compressed air to blast out the crumbs. Do your homework. Before removing the keys, check with the manufacturer to determine whether they are detachable.

Cleaning Keyboard with Cotton Swab

  • Cotton Swab for Keyboard Cleaning

Apply a tiny quantity of 70 percent–100 percent isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab or cotton ball and gently wipe around the keys to take it a step further. Isopropyl alcohol acts as a disinfectant and aids in the removal of germs that have grown up on your keyboard. Now, use a modest quantity of isopropyl alcohol—you don’t want a lot of it dripping beneath the keys. And, of course, don’t pour it straight on your keyboard.

Let’s move on to the screen now that the keyboard is clean. (That rhymed, too.)

Wiping Screen with Cloth

  • Using a Cloth to Wipe the Screen

Start by wiping your screen with a dry microfiber towel. This will usually be sufficient to remove fingerprints and smudges. If you need a little extra oomph, dampen your microfiber cloth with distilled water and clean the screen. You don’t want water seeping into the gaps of your laptop or keyboard. Therefore the towel should be moist, not soaked.

If your screen is still filthy (how long has it been since you cleaned it?) You may also use a screen cleaner mainly intended for computer screens. Instead of spraying the cleaner straight on the screen, spread it on your microfiber cloth.

Please avoid using any cleaners that include alcohol or strong chemicals since they might harm your screen by removing the protective filters. No isopropyl alcohol, abrasive wipes, or glass cleaners are allowed. In general, we advise using only distilled water. As previously stated, screen cleaning may be used. However, you must be cautious with them since some “screen cleaners” still include alcohol, so do your homework.

Wiping Trackpad with Cloth

  • Using a Cloth to Wipe the Trackpad

We clean our trackpads in the same manner that we clean our displays. However, because trackpads are delicate, we’ve found that it’s better to avoid strong chemicals and cleansers to reduce the chance of damage.

Wiping Laptop Case with Cloth

  • Using a Cloth to Wipe the Laptop Case

Because your laptop’s exterior is less delicate, it can typically be cleaned using 70-100 percent isopropyl alcohol and a microfiber cloth. Just keep an eye out for any openings, such as ports or speakers. Pour the alcohol on the microfiber cloth rather than straight on your laptop.

Keeping Your Phone Clean

Now that your laptop is clean let’s turn our attention to your phone, which is unquestionably the filthiest item you possess (another rhyme).

Phone Out of Case

  • Remove the phone from its case.

Remove all of your phone’s accessories and cases. Most instances may be cleaned with regular disinfectant wipes or isopropyl alcohol on a cloth, although excessive washing might cause discoloration over time.

Wiping Phone Screen with Cloth

  • Using a Cloth to Wipe the Phone Screen

To clean your phone, start wiping it down with a dry microfiber cloth to remove fingerprints and smudges. Screen cleaners that incorporate disinfectants are available if you want to destroy certain bacteria. You may also use warm water and plain old-fashioned hand soap.

Avoid items containing alcohol or ammonia, as well as more potent compounds. High acidity levels may degrade your phone’s oil-repellent coating, making it more susceptible to persistent fingerprint smudges, mainly if you clean your phone regularly.

Spraying Cloth with Cleaner

  • Using a Cleaner on a Cloth

If you’re going to use a screen cleaner, spritz it on a microfiber cloth first. Spraying straight on the phone is not a good idea. Next, wipe off all sides of your phones, avoiding holes such as the charging port. If you get too much moisture in an opening, your phone’s water detection system will activate, voiding your warranty.

Wiping Phone with Soap and Water

  • Using Soap and Water to Clean the Phone

If you’re using soap and water, dampen a microfiber cloth first, then dab a tiny amount of soap onto it. A little soap goes a long way in this situation. Next, wipe down both sides of your phone again, avoiding ports as much as possible.

Use a moist microfiber towel to “rinse” any residual soap residue after soaping it up. Then, using a clean towel, dry it off, and you’re ready to go.

Maintain a Clean Environment

So there you have it: how to wash a backpack and a few cleaning suggestions we employ to keep our often-used gear in good shape. When it comes to equipment, we encourage investing in durable options wherever possible, and a simple cleaning may easily prolong the life of your equipment (or avoid it from becoming disgusting). It’s also fun to do while you’re at home between travels. Just be careful not to over clean since this might damage more than good.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I wash a backpack in a washing machine?

A: Yes, you can wash your backpack in the washing machine if it is not too dirty.

What is the best way to wash a backpack?

A: You should take the backpack out of its bag and wash it by hand.

How often should backpacks be washed?

A: They should be washed every week, but if you have a dirty backpack, it may need to be done more often.

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