How to Care for your Backpack| Washable Backpacks at Lands' End

How to Care for Your Backpack

We just love our backpacks, don't you? Made from durable material to fight tears, scuffs, and abrasions, all of our backpacks are built to last through hectic school days, summertime adventures, and those last-minute-boarding-sprints at the airport (we've all been there). Something that goes everywhere can easily get forgotten when laundry day rolls around and backpacks are no exception. Let us help you ensure the longevity of your beloved Lands' End washable bookbag. Read on for a few frequently asked questions (and answers) about how to care for your backpack.

How can you clean a backpack?

Backpacks are great for holding all sorts of things – from books and sweatshirts to treasured rocks and half-eaten sandwiches. When it comes to cleaning your backpack the first step is to make sure everything is taken out. Once all of the large items are removed opening the pockets and turning the bag inside out is a great way to make sure no crevice – or mesh pocket – is left unturned.

This is also a great time to check the manufacturer's care label on the inside seam of the bookbag to see if any special care treatment is recommended. Most backpacks (our washable backpacks included!) allow for a spin on a gentle cycle in the washing machine but some require hand washing due to special fabrics or finishes on the bag. All backpacks, however, can become infinitely cleaner when wiped down with a damp cloth on the regular.

What is the easiest way to remove gum from a backpack?

Hardened chewing gum on a backpack is bound to happen at least once when you're dealing with school-aged kids. No need to panic when your kiddo comes home with the gooey stuff stuck on their kids' backpack. Instead of tossing the bag completely try sticking it in the freezer instead with the gum side up until it freezes. Once frozen (which could take up to three hours) quickly get to work scraping the frozen gum off with a dull blade. If the gum thaws before you can get all of it off put it back in the freezer and try again.

If freezing doesn't do the trick take to your kitchen cabinets to find a cleaning product or pantry item that might. Olive oil, lemon juice, and even hot vinegar have been successful in removing gum from fabrics. Or try a chemical-based cleaner like Goo Gone or WD-40. Even a little rubbing alcohol on a sponge can do the trick without staining or removing colors from fabrics. Of course, as with all cleaning products, we suggest testing a discreet area first to see how the product may affect the overall quality of the backpack.

Lotion spilled inside my backpack. How can I clean it?

Hand lotion can be a lifesaver for your skin on those dry, windy days but spilling it all over the inside of your backpack is just a pain. Luckily goopy lotion isn't that hard to clean up. Simply scrape off excess lotion and treat the area with a prewash stain remover (make sure to test an area first). Let the stain remover sit for a few minutes and then launder using the hottest water safe for the fabric. If the fabric doesn't allow for machine-washing, take a damp cloth with a mild detergent to the stain instead for a thorough spot clean. In either case, hanging to dry is best.

Are backpacks safe to put in the washing machine?

Most backpacks fair well when washed in a machine with warm or cold water on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. Prepare your washable backpack for a successful wash by opening all zippers and snipping any loose threads to prevent further wear and tear from being washed. Remember to place the bookbag inside a pillowcase or mesh laundry bag to protect the adjustable straps from knocking around inside the machine. Finally, remove promptly and allow the bag to hang dry fully before use to curtail the growth of mold.

Do backpacks get smelly?

Yes. Backpacks are great for lugging around sweaty gym gear, fragrant lunches, and just about any 'treasure' your precocious kiddo finds on the ground. Unfortunately, they're also great at carrying around unwanted scents and stubborn smells.

How can I keep my kid's backpack from smelling bad?

Cut odors off at the pass with a fragrant dryer sheet tucked at the bottom of the backpack. These laundry staples should keep your busy brood's bags smelling fresh for weeks before you need to sneak in a replacement sheet. Adding ½ cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle is another great way to take care of unwanted smells as well as wiping down backpacks with disinfecting wipes between washes.

And it never hurts to let your well-loved backpack enjoy a little sun and fresh air from time to time. Letting the fabric air out for a day or two is sometimes all it needs to get rid of those funky scents. But of course, the best way to prevent unwanted odors from infiltrating backpacks would be to keep them out in the first place. Clip lunch boxes to the handy exterior loops instead of tucking them away inside and keep sweaty uniforms in zippered bottom pockets away from clean items. Of course, removing uneaten food and sweaty clothes from bookbags at the end of every day is the best way to keep bad odors at bay.

Not sure your old bag can survive another wash? Shop today to find a new washable backpack worth caring for.


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