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An Easy Guide for How to Hand Wash a Bag

Of course, the best way to avoid a completely filthy bag is upkeep: Take wet gym clothes and any food garbage or leftover lunch 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.

Bags used daily can get grungy over time. Here's how to clean a bag to get rid of the dirt and grime.

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 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

Gentle detergent (free of fragrances, dyes, or other chemicals is best, so you don't damage the fabric of the bag)

Soft brush or old toothbrush

Washcloth and/or sponge


Step 1: Prep for the wash

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 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 is good for ground-in stains and hard-to-reach crevices. 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

Drain the dirty water and fill basin with six inches of clean cool water. Rinse the bag thoroughly and wring it out as best you can. Fold it into a thick towel to absorb excess water.

Step 4: Air-dry the bag

Allow the bag to air-dry. Leave all the zippers unzipped and hang it upside down. If you can dry it outdoors, that will help any leftover odors drift away. Make sure it's completely dry before it's next used.

Bag Freshener Recipe:

  • 1 cup crushed, aromatic dried herbs such as rosemary, southernwood, or lavender.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Mix ingredients together and sprinkle the mixture inside and outside of your completely dry bag, let it sit for 20 minutes, then vacuum.

Additional reference for odor removal products

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