Chances are, your backpack is tucked away somewhere right now, filled with everything from notebooks and binders to pencils and papers. But if you clean it out, you’ll actually be able to use it this summer—and it’ll be so much easier to find things quickly once school starts back up. (You’ll thank us next time you’re running late for class!) Follow this step-by-step guide to getting organized.
1. Take everything out.
Start by taking everything out of your backpack—even the items you’re planning to put back in. Decide what items are worth mending (think: broken pencil halves that can be sharpened or dirty binders that need cleaning) and which ones should be thrown out or given away.
As you pull things out, divide everything up into categories so you can clearly see what you have. (Don’t forget to organize your binders, notebooks, folders, and papers by subject!) Then, be sure to note what you don’t need and what’s missing. Maybe you’ve got extra pens to put in your desk, for example, but need a new planner to keep track of deadlines and all those Zoom calls with friends.
2. Clean your backpack thoroughly.
Now that your bag is empty, it’s time to polish it up. Turn everything inside out and shake your backpack over a trash can to get rid of any small crumbs, scraps, dirt, or other items. If you have a vacuum with a hose attachment, you can use it to remove small debris from the creases and corners of your bag.
Next, it’s time to wash your bag. If you have a Right Pack, Big Student, or SuperBreak backpack, dampen a cloth with cool water and use it to wipe down your bag, avoiding any pieces of leather or suede. Don’t throw your bag in a washing machine or use detergents or bleach, which can distort your bag’s shape, finish, and color. When you’re done, hang up your backpack and let it air dry.
Want to show off your personality? Once your bag’s dry, you can decorate it with fabric markers or patches to make it stand out.
3. Arrange your items.
There are a few things to consider before you start filling your backpack up. First, take a good look at your newly-cleaned backpack and think about the compartments that are available. Do you have a built-in padded sleeve for your laptop? If not, you might need a case. Are there pencil holders? How big are the compartments?
Next, sort the items you want to put back into your backpack into pouches and cases, sticking to one type of item in each one. This way, it’ll be easier to keep your bag neat, to find what you’re looking for, and to change up what’s in your bag based on the day’s needs. A Lil’ Wedge is great for smaller items, like erasers, while a Medium Accessory Pouch easily fits pencils and pens. Large Accessory Pouches have two compartments, which you could use for cords and chargers. If you need more than one case of the same size, consider getting them in different colors so that you know what’s inside without opening it.
4. Fill it up.
Finally, it’s time to put your items back in your bag. Place pouches with items you often use in front compartments which are more easily accessible. Heavier and bulkier items should go in the main compartment. Depending on what you’re carrying, you may want to put items that weigh more at the bottom, so that your bag stands on its own when you’re not using it.
Now that you’ve gotten everything cleaned and organized, keep it up! Wipe your bag down regularly and always put everything back in its place. If you do, it’ll be much easier to use your bag in the year ahead.
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By: Jessen O’Brien