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How to clean a backpack

Your backpack is a vital bit of kit. Whether it be a small day pack or multi-day trekking pack, it safely carries all the kit you need for whatever adventure you’re on and a regular bit of tlc can keeping it moving your world for longer.

Over time, packs get dirty. Oils from your skin, salts from your sweat get into the fabrics, dirt from the trail start to build, and food bits & rubbish gather in the pockets. Often small tears or rips go un-noticed without close inspection and looking after your pack does not have to take a long time, but it could save a lot of hassle long term. Follow the advice from one of customer service team below and learn how to clean and look after your backpack to ensure it gives you years of good service.

  • Soft Brush – a shoe brush would do but make sure there’s no polish on it!
  • Technical Soap – we’d recommend either Nikwax Tech Wash or Granger’s Performance Wash. Do not use any bleaches or standard detergent.
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Clean sponge
  • Small bucket or bowl filled with cold water and your soap of choice
  • Empty all the pockets and leave zips open
  • Loosen all straps.
  • Open the lid and tip upside down to rid any loose debris inside the pack. (Using a rucksack liner can be helpful to avoid this building up in the first place.)
  • Do not remove any internal frames/staves, unless these are advertised as removable. These are very hard to re-insert and you may cause long-term damage by removing these.
  • Vacuum inside the pack getting into any nooks and crannies. Use the lowest/gentlest setting on your vacuum cleaner.
  • Gently brush off any loose dirt, caught twigs, leaves, etc with your hands
  • Inspect the pack for any damage. If there are any holes or catches, it would be worth contacting our Repairs Team before continuing.
  • Wet the pack all over with a soapy sponge. It is important to wet any dried mud before brushing, as this sticks to the fabric. Peeling it off can seriously damage the outer fabric.
  • Gently sponge the shoulder harness and hip belt to encourage any sweat and oils to come out. Leave soapy and squeeze the foam so water absorbs into it.
  • Gently scrub off, with the sponge, any stubborn marks on the outer fabric.
  • Wet the webbing straps with soapy water and run them back and forth through the buckles to loosen and remove any mud etc.
  • Check the zippers and make sure nothing is caught in these. A once over with the sponge can help clean.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean, cold water. We find dunking it, in and out of a bath of water works best, then spray with a shower or hose.
  • Take extra care on the shoulder harness, back padding and hip belt to ensure all the soap is rinsed out of any foams.
  • Hang to dry naturally. Ensure this is out of direct sunlight, away from any radiators (or other heat sources). Hanging this where there is a draft is great, as the moving air will aid it to dry quicker. Ensure all the zips are open and that any removable parts are hung separately.
  • When completely dry replace any parts removed and check again for any damage.
  • Run zippers back and forth to and ensure they run smoothly. If they are getting tight you can lubricate with a zip lubricant.
  • Store your backpack in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • After every trip it is advisable to empty your pack, tip it upside down to rid any dirt inside, and get any dirt off the outside of the pack. If it is muddy, then follow the steps of a full clean below before storing the pack.
  • All Lowe Alpine products should be stored in a cool, dry environment; better in a wardrobe than in the cellar.

**Do not machine wash, tumble dry or dry clean any of our products. It is important not to use solvents during the cleaning process.**

Reproofing a Lowe Alpine backpack

Our packs have DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coatings on the outer fabric. Over time these wear. To replenish this, after washing, whilst the fabric is still damp, use a spray-on reproofer. Nikwax TX Direct or Granger’s Tent + Gear Repel are two we’d recommend.

Keep your pack clean and organised

Rain covers are a great way of protecting your pack, not only from rain, but also from mud and dirt, scuffs from rocks and general wear and tear.

Kevin Karaca

Customer Experience Agent

Kevin Karaca is part of our Product Advice team at Lowe Alpine. He is a Rock Climbing Instructor, summer & winter mountaineer, and a runner. Kevin spends most of his time at local Peak District crags or driving the van up to the Highlands or North Wales for weekend in the mountains.