How To Wash A Jansport Backpack Without Ruining It

Your favorite backpack is filthy. You've had it for years, and you don't want to part with it, but you really can't carry it this way.

Or, maybe your kid came home from school last Friday and failed to tell you that the yogurt cup meant for their lunch exploded in the front pocket on the way to school. Incidentally, it's now Sunday night, and you just discovered the disgusting yogurt mess.

Don't stress!

In no time you'll know how to wash a JanSport backpack without ruining it.

There is nothing worse than throwing your favorite backpack in the washing machine and destroying it. If you have never experienced that horror, you are a lucky person. It's even worse when your favorite Jansport backpack loses its life that way, especially since Jansport makes such great backpacks.

JanSport Brand History

JanSport Brand History

JanSport has long been an industry leader in creating high-quality bags and outdoor gear. In 1967, three friends designed a lightweight hiking backpack, and a brand was born. Soon after, JanSport became the standard in school backpacks.

With a lifetime warranty, JanSport stands by their backpacks. There are stories online from JanSport enthusiasts using that lifetime guarantee to replace their 14-year-old, well-loved bags with brand new gems through warranty claims. Depending on the state of your backpack, if it's years of wear and tear, you may be able to get that old bag replaced. Regardless, giving it a quick bath might give it a few more years of life.

Machine Washing vs. Hand Washing

Machine Washing vs. Hand Washing

We will walk you through how to wash a JanSport backpack without ruining it. It's important to note that JanSport does specify on their website that their bags should be hand washed only and without detergent.

However, we will provide instructions that include machine washing for those brave souls who are willing to go against the manufacturer recommendation and learn how to wash a JanSport backpack without ruining it. Sometimes it's all you have in an attempt to save your beloved bag. You're at a crossroads. Wash it, or toss it?

If you find yourself in such a predicament, give this a try. It can be a challenge to know how to wash a JanSport backpack without ruining it. But, if your bag is filthy, all you have to gain is a fresh, clean JanSport backpack. Before you get started, it's important to note that these instructions are only for canvas or nylon backpacks. Do not submerge bags that have any leather or leather accents, as water will ruin those parts.

Everything You Need to Wash a JanSport Backpack

There are a few items you will need as you walk through how to wash a JanSport backpack without ruining it.

  • Bucket or sink
  • Spot treater
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Soft cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Sponge
  • Pillowcase or laundry bag

How to Wash a JanSport Backpack Without Ruining It

Always check the tag of your specific bag for cleaning recommendations.

Prepare the JanSport for washing

To wash a JanSport backpack without ruining it, you'll first need to prep the bag by emptying it and removing any dry dirt or debris. These first three steps will be the same regardless of the preferred cleaning method you choose.

1. Empty the bag

First, you'll want to start with an empty pack. You especially do not want to miss a stray ink pen that could turn your dirty bag into a ruined bag. Leave all pockets and compartments unzipped and open. If the inside of the bag is foul, turn it inside out to clean the interior of the backpack thoroughly.

2. Remove soil

Next, you need to clean off as much of the dry dirt and debris as possible. The creases of a bag can trap all kinds of little bits and pieces. It's a great idea to put your vacuum cleaner to work for this part.

3. Remove any loose threads

Then, snip off any loose threads or fabric fibers. Cutting these threads now will prevent any snagged or stuck zippers, especially if you choose to clean your JanSport in the washing machine.

4. Spot clean stains

Finally, use a damp soft cloth or toothbrush and spot clean the outside of the bag. You can use plain water, or dilute some stain remover for the worst spots.

After you've prepared the bag for washing, you're ready to choose your method. If your bag is only moderately dirty, the hand washing method would probably be enough to do the trick. If the backpack is beyond hand washing, machine washing is likely to save the bag.

Instructions for hand washing

As stated before, hand washing your bag is the recommended cleaning method. It may take a bit more time, but here is how to wash a Jansport backpack without ruining it.

1. Disinfect the inside of the pack

First, if the inside of the bag is dirty or odiferous, it can be challenging to get that smell under control. The best way is to tackle this stubborn grime with a phenolic disinfectant like Lysol or Pine Sol. If easier, turn the backpack inside out. Then, create a one-to-one solution with disinfectant and lukewarm water. Next, use a sponge or cloth to clean the interior pockets of the bag.

You can also use Lysol wipes for this step. Then, leave the bag inside out to air dry entirely before cleaning the outside of the backpack.

2. Clean the outside of the bag

Once the inside of the bag is clean and dry, it's time to move on to the outside of the backpack. Fill a bucket or sink with lukewarm water. Do not use hot water as it can cause fabric colors to bleed.

JanSport care instructions say not to submerge their backpacks (it's not waterproof!), so soaking a soft cloth in just water and scrubbing the bag is the safest route to take. You can also use a soft brush, like a toothbrush, for better results. If more than water is needed, you can dilute a mild detergent like Woolite or Dreft and use it sparingly on the most soiled areas. Then be sure to use a separate clean water cloth to rinse as you go.

If you don't think a mild detergent will do the trick, you can dilute a stronger detergent like Tide or Gain, both which are useful in cold and lukewarm water. However, you must use this solution with care, and make sure you test on a small area of the bag first.

When using a detergent, be sure to gently rinse the bag with lukewarm water, paying close attention not to submerge the bag completely.

3. Use a sponge to clean mesh

Next, if your bag has mesh pockets, you will need to use special care in their cleaning. Mesh pockets for water bottles or other small items are delicate and can tear easily. Rather than using a brush that can snag the mesh, use a soaked sponge to do this part of the job.

Instructions for machine washing

Sometimes a backpack is just too dirty to tackle with our bare hands. When that kind of dirt is involved, you're likely asking if you can even save the backpack. The answer is yes; it probably can be cleaned. After using the steps above to prepare the pack for washing, follow the steps below.

As previously mentioned, leather should not come in contact with water. Consequently, you cannot place a Jansport with leather or leather accents in the washing machine. These instructions are only for bags without leather.

1. Place bag in laundry bag or pillowcase

First, you must prepare the pack to go inside the washing machine. Backpacks have a lot of straps and zippers that can get caught up during the wash cycle. To avoid problems, place the bag in an old pillowcase or mesh laundry bag. Take note that the color of your bag may bleed onto the pillowcase, so you'll want to use an old pillowcase you've set aside for this type of use.

Additionally, for extra care, turn the backpack inside out which will keep the straps "inside" the bag. Taking this step will also help clean the interior if the inside is especially soiled. Next, tie the pillowcase closed, or zip up your laundry bag, and place the bundle in the washing machine.

2. Use detergent sparingly

Next, you'll add the detergent. If you have a front loading washing machine, place your soap to the dispenser as you always do. It's important to use only a scant amount of detergent in the wash cycle -- one to two tablespoons is sufficient. If you have a top loading machine, add the small amount of detergent as the water is running.

3. Wash on gentle cycle

Now, just set your washing machine on the gentle or delicate cycle using only cold, or at most, lukewarm water. During the spin cycle, if it sounds like the load is unbalanced, you may need to pause your washer (if it has this feature) and adjust the backpack to straighten any bunching that has occurred in the wash cycle.

4. Towel dry bag as soon as it is out of the washing machine

Finally, once the cycle is complete, remove the backpack from the pillowcase or laundry bag and wipe it down with a dry towel. Wiping the entire surface of the pack will soak up any water that pooled in any nooks and crannies during the wash cycle and aid in the overall drying process.

Drying your backpack

Making sure your bag is completely dry before using it is imperative.

Open all pockets and air-dry pack by hanging it upside down

Whether you hand wash your bag or use the washing machine, avoid mold issues by keeping all pockets unzipped and open. Hang the bag upside down possibly outdoors, but not in direct sunlight, until it is completely dry. Never dry a backpack in a dryer. The heat can damage the nylon fabrics and cause seams to weaken and split.

Oh, It Will Feel Good to Have a Clean Backpack Again

So, now it's time to get busy. It is best to start this process in the morning to give the bag ample drying time, especially if you plan to hang it outdoors.

Whether you choose to hand wash or go the machine washing route, now you know how to wash a JanSport backpack without ruining it. Here's to having a few more years of using your favorite Jansport backpack or at the very least, keeping your kid's school bag from being the source of the next global plague.

Have you ever had a nightmare backpack mess that you successfully cleaned? Did you successfully figure out how to wash a JanSport backpack without ruining it? Share your experience in the comments below.


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