What You Need to Know About Sanitizing Your Backpack

Girl wearing blue JanSport backpack with sanitizer hooked onto zipper next to guy on bike

Keep your backpack clean and germ-free with these expert tips.


The pandemic has made me hyperaware of the possible germs lingering on the belongings that I carry around every day. And after a few beach trips, afternoon hikes, and picnics in the park, my SuperBreak Plus really needed a thorough cleaning. Normally it feels like a hassle to hand wash something, but JanSport’s instructions for how to clean a backpack are super quick and easy to follow—so there really is no reason to dread this chore. Don’t believe me? Learn from my experience when it comes time for you to clean your JanSport backpack.


Step 1: Empty the Bag

First things first: This might seem obvious but take everything out of the backpack. JanSport bags always have a few pockets, which is great—but that also means you might forget what’s in there. I almost missed my headphones and hand sanitizer hiding in the crevices, for example. So give the bag a good shake to get out smaller items, along with any crumbs or dirt. I highly recommend you do this over an empty garbage bin or on a counter, so it’s easy to clean up the dirt but you don’t have to reach into a full trash can if spare change or something of importance falls out. (I unfortunately did not do this. Learn from my mistakes.) Because I’d taken my backpack to the beach, I also grabbed a handheld vacuum to take care of the sand at the bottom. A hose attachment on a regular vacuum cleaner would work too.

JanSport Backpack with a bunch of items emptied out to the side of the pack.


Step 2: Wipe It Down

Once I knew there weren’t any surprises inside, it was time to wipe the bag down. JanSport’s instructions say to use cool water with a soft, damp cloth. I decided to fill up a small bowl with extra water in case the damp cloth wasn’t enough, but this was definitely not necessary. When I was reading over the instructions, I had thought either the bag would get sopping wet and make a mess, or that a damp cloth would not be nearly enough for a durable backpack—but I was wrong about both. In fact, I was amazed by how the bag absorbed the water without getting heavy and drippy like other materials.


I used the cloth to wipe the front, back, bottom, and inside, as well as the straps (don’t want to forget about those!). I wish hand washing all items could be this easy, with literally no drips or spills.


I noticed a small smudge on the front, so I grabbed the JanSport Backpack Stain Remover, as the instructions state not to use bleach or harsh detergents on the bag. I sprayed it onto my damp cloth and scrubbed at the spot. I could tell it was working because the stain remover got a little sudsy. The bottle’s instructions recommend using a clean, dry cloth to wipe away excess moisture and dirt when you’re done.


One note: If the stain’s big, it’s probably best to use the spray prior to wiping the bag down with the damp cloth, so it doesn’t smudge across the bag or set in. I didn’t notice the stain until after I’d started wiping, but luckily it all worked out.

JanSport Backpack with cleaning towel JanSport Stain Remover Spray


Step 3: Air It Out

With the “hard work” over, it was time to let the bag dry. Again, no laundry machines should be used for this part. Since it was a beautiful day and the front of my house receives a lot of sunshine, I let it dry outside. Had it not been nice out, I would have set it on top of a towel on a counter or hung it from the back of my door to dry. After getting distracted with other chores and FaceTiming with friends, I remembered to check on my SuperBreak Plus about two hours later. It was bone-dry and good to go.


Final Thoughts

As previously mentioned, I don’t like hand washing things. It typically requires letting things soak for a long time or dealing with puddles of water as the item drips dry. However, cleaning my JanSport backpack couldn’t have been easier. Needing only water and a cloth, it took just a few minutes to freshen it up. There are seriously no excuses to not make this a monthly habit, especially when it provides you with the peace of mind that you’re not carrying germs on your back or into your home.


Don’t put off this chore any longer! Take a few minutes from your day and follow these steps for how to clean your backpack.


By: Katie Nolan