A lot of people, especially hikers, come across this question in their minds, “how to clean hiking backpack” and it is obvious that when you spend a good amount of your income on hiking backpacks, you expect them to last long enough.

The same goes for other hiking products like hiking shoes, backpacks, first-aid kits, and navigation tools, and you’ll try to do everything in your personal power to extend the life of your precious belongings.

If you are struggling with cleaning your hiking backpack or if you are confused that whether you should use hand washing or machine washing, then this article will help you find the best way to clean your hiking backpack.

So, without further delay. Let’s have a look at cleaning techniques for a hiking backpack.

How to Clean Hiking Backpack?

How To Clean Hiking Backpack

When you use something for many years in some extreme dirt conditions, you should also know how to keep it clean. You can’t just toss your backpack in the shower and clean it.

Cleaning a hiking backpack requires some skills that help you in understanding what to do and what to avoid while cleaning your backpack.

Read the Label As a Precaution

I know it is kind of weird these days to read the label, but it is really important as a precaution if you don’t want to ruin the material of your backpack.

The label tells you all the information regarding the material of your hiking backpack. In some cases, it also provides you with additional instructions for cleaning the backpack.

Your backpack needs the same care as your clothes. You need to read the label and get to know about everything, including machine washing, hand washing, and the right temperature, to avoid any unexpected situation.

Most importantly, it is possible that your hiking backpack may look like other backpacks, but there is a lot of difference in material and fabric.

It is possible that one thing that is suitable for one backpack may completely ruin the other.

Basic Cleaning of Your Hiking Backpack

A lot of you might be familiar with the term “basic cleaning.”

Most hikers do this basic cleaning of their backpacks without any difficulty.

If you notice any mud or dirt on your backpack, you can immediately clean it off with your hand or a piece of cloth you are carrying with you.

However, I usually recommend using a small brush to clean hiking backpacks and your other stuff like shoes and hiking pools.

So, carry a small brush with you when you hit the hiking trail.

Similarly, as soon as you reach home, empty your backpack completely and make sure to empty all the pockets of your hiking backpack.

If your backpack is flexible enough, then you can turn it inside out for better cleaning.

However, it is recommended to use a small portable vacuum cleaner to completely vacuum out the little bits of dirt and mud from your backpack.

These small grains of mud and dirt are the major cause of tearing apart the material of your backpack.

Basic cleaning of your backpack is much easier than handwashing or machine washing.

Moreover, if you do basic cleaning of your backpack regularly, then most probably you won’t have to deep clean it more often.

Machine Washing Your Hiking Backpack

Machine Washing - How To Clean Hiking Backpack

The best practice is to read the label of your backpack to know whether it is suitable for machine washing or not.

If the label indicates that it is okay to clean it in a washing machine, then you should follow the instructions.

Make sure that you set the right temperature while cleaning your backpack in a washing machine.

If the temperature is too high, then it is possible that the colors may fade, and if the temperature is too low, then it won’t be cleaned properly.

One of the best tips is to place your backpack in an old pillowcase or tie the straps of your backpack with a ribbon or piece of cloth so it won’t get any damage while spinning in the washing machine.

Note: Do not machine wash your hiking backpack if the instructions clearly indicate that machine washing is not suitable for your backpack.

Handwashing Your Hiking Backpack

As I mentioned earlier, read the instructions label before washing your hiking backpack.

If the instructions label clearly indicates that you cannot machine wash your backpack, then the best alternative is to handwash it.

Even washing your hiking backpack requires a good set of skills. First, you need to ensure that you have completely emptied your backpack.

Fill a basin or tub with warm water but do not use hot water because it may fade the colors and damage the material.

Most importantly, do not use any detergents or fabric softeners because they can damage the material of your backpack. However, you should use light soap to make a lather.

To remove hard or stubborn specks of dirt marks, use a brush with soft bristles and don’t get too hard because it can also damage the material of the backpack.

Natural Air Drying Vs. Dryer

Besides the question “how to clean hiking backpack,” you may also come up with other questions like “should you use natural air or dryer for your backpack?”.

Well, it is recommended to use natural air drying instead of the dryer because most of the high-quality backpacks are not dryer friendly, and if you still put them in the dryer, then end result will not be pleasant enough for you.

If you don’t want different areas of your backpack to be melted, then do not use a dryer after cleaning it.

However, natural air is the best option to use for drying your backpack. I know it takes time, but it won’t damage your backpack in any way.

Additional Details You Should Know For Cleaning Your Backpack

The following are some additional questions that may come up in your mind while cleaning your hiking backpack:

How to Disinfect Backpack

Disinfectant - How To Clean Hiking Backpack

Disinfecting our backpacks has become a norm since the outbreak of this pandemic. People usually ask how they can disinfect their hiking gears, such as backpacks, hiking shoes, hiking poles, etc.

If you come up with the same question in mind, then I would like to share some of the things that I mostly use to disinfect my backpack and other hiking gears.

You can use any disinfectant to disinfect your backpack. However, you can also use a soft cloth and mild soap.

You can easily find different disinfectants online to disinfect your hiking gears.

How to Wash Osprey Backpack

If you own an Osprey backpack, then you should keep in mind that you cannot wash it in a washing machine.

It is recommended to first remove any removable components such as harnesses and hip belts from your backpack.

Use a brush to remove any dirt or food particles from your Osprey backpack. Pour warm water in your bathtub, and do not use boiling water because it will damage its material.

Osprey recommends Nikwax Tech Wash to clean your backpack. Gently rub your backpack with the help of a soft cloth or brush.

In the end, rinse your backpack completely and hang it outdoor so it can be dried with natural air.

Note: It is recommended not to use a dryer to dry your backpack because it can damage the material.

How to Wash a Jansport Backpack

The cleaning process of a Jansport backpack is a bit different from other backpacks. First, you need to empty it and vacuum out the tiny bits of dirt and food.

It is recommended not to machine wash your Jansport backpack. On the other hand, if you hand wash your backpack then it will ensure the shape and form of your backpack don’t disrupt.

The Jansport backpacks with Cordura and 600D Polyester Fabric should be cleaned using cold water.

However, you can also use a backpack stain remover specifically manufactured for these backpacks.

If you are using a stain remover, then spray it on a soft cloth and gently rub it on your backpack.

In this way, you can easily clean your Jansport backpack without opting for a machine or handwashing.

How to Wash a Polyester Backpack

You can either use machine washing or handwashing to clean your polyester backpack. Polyester is a thick and strong material, and it usually doesn’t lose its colors.

Despite that fact, you should use cold water instead of warm or boiling water. You can wash it with a soft cloth or brush to remove any hard stains of dirt or food.

If you are using a washing machine to clean your polyester backpack, then keep in mind that you should use cold water.

In the end, rinse your backpack properly to remove dirt particles and dirty water. Hang it outside for natural dry.

How to Wash a Herschel Backpack

The official statement released by Herschel Supply states that you should not use a washing machine to clean your Herschel backpack. However, you can wash it with the help of mild soap.

If you are confused about which soap to use, then the easiest way to figure out is to choose the one which you use to wash your dishes. The most common brands of mild soaps include Dawn, Palmolive, Seventh, etc.

However, you can use any mild soap of your own choice as well. Moreover, you can also use a sponge to rub off the dirt from your backpack.

After washing it with mild soap, rinse your backpack properly and hang it outside for natural dry.

How To Clean Hiking Backpack – FAQs

How To Clean Hiking Backpack - FAQs

The following FAQs will help you in maintaining your hiking backpack:

How Often Should You Clean Your Hiking Backpack?

You should spot clean your hiking backpack after every hike, and you can deep clean your backpack at the end of each hiking season.

For example, if you mostly hike during the summer season, then you should deep clean your backpack at the end of summer.

However, it also depends on your hiking activities.

Why Should You Deep Clean Your Hiking Backpack?

Deep cleaning your hiking backpack not only protects its material but also extends its life to a greater extent.

The dirt, sweat, and general debris can affect the material of your backpack, so it is necessary to deep clean your backpack at least at the end of each hiking season.

Can You Dry Clean Your Hiking Backpack?

No, you should not dry clean your hiking backpack because it involves aggressive chemicals that can completely damage the fabric of your backpack.

If you don’t want your backpack to be damaged, then don’t even think about dry-cleaning it.

Can You Deodorize Your Hiking Backpack?

Yes, you can deodorize any hiking backpack with the help of various deodorants and mild washing soaps.

Some of the most common cleaners and deodorants include FreshWave odor removing spray and Grangers footwear and gear cleaner.

However, you can also use a mild soap with vinegar to eliminate the bad odor of your hiking backpack.

How to Keep Your Hiking Backpack Clean?

To keep your hiking backpack clean all the time, you should consider buying a rain cover.

Rain covers are available in different sizes and are best for hiking gears such as backpacks, shoes, and other times.

Backpack covers reduce the risk of material damage by keeping away the dust particles.

Moreover, keep the cover inside of your backpack so you can use it during extreme conditions like rainfall and dirt.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining and cleaning your backpack through a proper routine can extend its life to a great extent.

Just like your clothes and other stuff, your hiking backpack also requires proper attention and care.

This article completely relates to one simple question that most of the hiker usually ask, “how to clean hiking backpack.”

To prevent your backpack from damaging, make sure that you are cleaning it regularly.

If you have any questions in your mind relating to the cleaning of a hiking backpack, you can reach out to Hiking Made Easy at any time.

Share with us your cleaning skills using which you clean your hiking backpack!


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