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An Easy Guide for How to Hand Wash a Bag


Washing machines and commonly used detergents/softeners for clothes can destroy the polyurethane coated lining and cause it to flake or even become sticky.  Additionally the hardware can cause damage to your machine.

STEP 1:  Prep for the Wash

Take the time to clear everything out of the bag. If needed, put it all into a plastic bag, so it all stays together while you're washing; clean or replace anything that's soiled, so you're not putting anything dirty back into a clean bag. Make sure to get into every compartment, so you don't miss a thing.

If there are crumbs and dirt in the crevices, use a handheld vacuum to get out as much as you can; You can also use a computer-keyboard air blower. For hard-to-remove muck, try a toothbrush, The soft bristles will help loosen the debris without damaging the fabric.

Leave all the pockets unzipped. Cut away any loose threads near zipping areas, so they don't get snagged during washing.

For a good old-fashioned hand washing, here's what you'll need:

Pre-treatment stain remover

Soft brush or old toothbrush

Washcloth and/or sponge


Gentle liquid detergent    

If there are any exterior or interior stains, gently apply some stain remover with a soft brush or toothbrush to affected areas and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

Fill the basin with about six inches of lukewarm water. Add a small amount of gentle liquid detergent.

STEP 2: Scrub your bag

Scrub the bag with a soft brush or cloth, focusing particularly on especially soiled areas or spot stains. 

A toothbrush or palm size soft bristle brush is good for ground-in stains and hard-to-reach crevices. Stubborn stains may require an additional drop of soap to them work out. Scrub in a circular motion while occasionally dipping the bag  into the water to help dilute and remove the stain.   A sponge might work better on mesh areas than the cloth. Turn the bag inside-out and wash the interior as well.

STEP 3: Give it a good rinse

Rinse the bag thoroughly making sure no soap residue is left behind. 

Drain the dirty water, rinse and refill basin with six inches of clean cool water.  Once rinsed, draw out water as best you can by folding it into a thick towel to absorb excess water.  Applying a bit of weight helps.

STEP 4: Air-dry the bag

Allow the bag to air dry. 

Leave all the zippers unzipped and hang it upside down so left over water can drip out. If it's a sunny day you can dry it outdoors.  That will help any leftover odors drift away.    Make sure it's completely dry before it's stored. Never put the bag in a dryer because it will damage the bag and the machine.

Like visuals? To see our fun cleaning video click here

The best way to avoid a completely filthy bag is upkeep: Take wet clothes and any food and garbage out of the bag as soon as it gets home, and gently clean stains with mild dish soap as soon as you notice them. Wipe down the bag regularly, and keep it dry on the inside to avoid mold and degradation.  

Additional reference for odor removal products

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