school backpack in the washer

Can You Put a School Backpack in the Washer?

People sometimes ask us at D&T Appliance Service, “Can you put a school backpack in the washer?” Thankfully, yes!

There is no question that between school, hiking, gym clothes, sports gear, you name it, today’s backpacks get a ton of use. This also means that unless you want to commit to buying new backpacks all the time, you should learn how to clean and care for the one you already have. Or buy stock in Jansport. Your choice.

How to Wash a School Backpack in the Washer in 5 Easy Steps

Most backpacks can be easily hand washed or thrown into the washer with some basic instructions. Always look for a care tag to see if there are specific instructions for your particular backpack. If you have leather or other specialty fabric, follow the care for leather jackets or your specialty fabric.

Step #1 Empty the Backpack

I mean, seriously, how long has it been since you looked in all those zippered pockets and crevices? You may find things in there you forgot you had! Empty out every nook and cranny of the backpack. Turn it completely inside out if possible, including any pockets that will cooperate.

Don’t even consider putting a school backpack in the washer without checking to ensure everything is removed- there’s nothing like that long-lost Sharpie being rediscovered in the wash.

Step #2 Take Off Removable Pieces

Remove any clip-on accessories, straps, and metal parts that are removable. If the accessories are dingy, clean those too!

Step #3 Remove Stains

For the straps, use a 1 to 1 ratio of laundry detergent and water to brush and remove stains and dark spots. If the straps are stinky from sweat, soak them for 30 minutes before adding to the washer.

Once you’ve soaked the straps to loosen all the grime, use a soft-bristle brush (toothbrush, cleaning brush, vegetable brush) to clean the stained areas. Use the same 1:1 ratio of detergent to water to brush and remove any other stains on the backpack itself.

Step #4 Place the School Backpack in the Washer

Disinfect if Needed

If your backpack has been used to carry sweaty or wet clothing, shoes, or anything that may carry germs, bacteria, or fungus, you may want to disinfect it. Before you add the backpack to the washer, add a pine oil disinfectant that is at least 80% pine oil.

Products such as Pine-Sol and Lysol Pine Action meet these criteria. Do NOT use bleach, as this can damage the fabric. Follow the products label directions for the recommended amount to add to the laundry.


So can you wash a backpack in a washing machine? Yes! Put the backpack in a large mesh laundry bag. Put the straps in a separate mesh laundry bag. Wash in warm water on the delicate cycle using your regular laundry detergent. Opt for the extra rinse cycle if possible.

how to wash a backpack in the washer
Image from Amazon

Step #5 Wipe Down Thoroughly

When the school backpack in the washer cycle is finished, remove the items from the laundry bags and use a damp cloth to wipe them down thoroughly. Carefully remove any remaining debris caught inside pockets or seams.

Do NOT put the backpack in the dryer, but rather let it air dry. Nice day? Drying it outside is even better as it’s airing out, just don’t place it in direct sunlight, as that can damage some fabrics or bleach out colors.


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