Machine washing backpacks – is it a clever idea or is there an alternative to achieve a better end result?

There is mixed information online about machine washing backpacks, and some companies are actively advertising their backpacks are machine washable, however is it really a clever idea to machine wash a backpack?

Bag design

When considering whether to machine wash a backpack, you need to pay close attention to the design of the backpack. Does the bag have plastic or metal zips? Are the zips waterproof zips? Does the bag have plastic buckles, zip pullers or other accessories which could break in a washing machine or even worse damage the washing machine?

The reality is plastic is breakable, so you will always be crossing your fingers on this one, however a laundry bag or pillowcase may provide protection for plastic buckles and bag fittings and the inside of the washing machine.

Make sure you check the care labels inside the backpack regarding any metal fittings and/or zips to ensure they will not tarnish or rust when subjected to excessive amounts of water and lubricate the zips after machine washing to ensure the zips stay in excellent condition and does not become sticky.

Remember if the backpack fittings like zips, buckles, and pullers survive one wash, it does not mean they will survive every wash or continue to work as well during everyday use. Exposing these features repeatedly to heat, cleaning chemicals and the spin cycle of a washing machine is likely to diminish the robustness of these backpack features and there will be a higher chance of these fittings breaking in future washes, or just through everyday use.

Backpack Fabrication  

Before machine washing a backpack, always check the backpack fabric. General advice is polyester, nylon, and canvas backpacks are ok to machine wash if they do not have any waterproofing coatings, or additional fabrics like a shiny looking vinyl/PVC base, or a leather looking base using PU Leather.

Vinyl/PVC and PU Leather are synthetic polymer forms of plastics so they will not tolerate spinning in a washing machine very well or exposure to heat. Only use a pH neutral liquid washing detergent (without any fabric softener) as the flakes of detergent powder can stick to the plastic coating on the PVC/vinyl. Bear in mind PVC/vinyl will break down due to machine washing and shorten the lifespan of a backpack much quicker than spot washing.

If you have any waterproof coating on the outside of the bag or the lining, you should never use normal laundry detergent on your bag. Normal laundry detergents are designed to break down grease and oils and waterproof coatings can look remarkably like grease and oils to a normal laundry detergent. Normal laundry detergent is likely to leave a water loving residue on the bag ruining all the water repelling properties. Instead, you should use a specialised detergent specifically designed for washing waterproof bags and clothes.

Drying a Backpack

Never use a tumble dryer to dry a backpack irrespective of the fabrication or fittings. To prevent any mould or mildew issues backpacks should always be completely dry before using or storage.

Warranty Considerations

Always follow any guidance regarding cleaning and care of a product to prevent any warranty issues occurring in the future, or even worse the warranty voided.

Are Alimasy Bags machine washable?

At Alimasy quality is more important than quantity. This is one of the main reasons why we offer a lifetime warranty on all Alimasy products. A lifetime warranty ensures all our decisions regarding the design, materials, manufacturing, and cleaning and care guidance made by us have the sole purpose of ensuring our bags truly last a long time. A lifetime warranty is also our own way of demonstrating our 100% belief and commitment in the quality of our products.

Yes, our backpacks (excluding the waterproof backpacks) can be machine washed in a protective bag using the correct temperature, wash cycle settings and washing detergent if absolutely necessary.

However, please bear in mind machine washing a backpack will shorten the lifespan and enjoyment of your backpack by damaging the fabric and/or structural integrity of the bag, and potentially break any buckles and fittings. 

Is there an alternative to machine washing backpacks?

We have developed an alternative way to keeping backpacks clean and ensure our customers can enjoy their backpacks much longer.

We have worked closely with our manufacturer (who has been making backpacks and bags for 40 years) to develop a unique 100% waterproof lining which would remove the need to machine wash our backpacks and actively repel dirt, mould, and odours.

With a 100% waterproof lining any spills, leaks or sticky mess can be easily wiped clean quickly and easily without the need to machine wash.

For the parts of the bag which do not have a waterproof coating, we have purposely selected prints which will easily hide any day-to-day dirt and stains to prevent the need for anything more than spot washing of the bag.