Whether you are a novice or have been hiking for years, there comes a time where you need to clean your backpack. How to clean internal frame backpacks is not complicated. It takes a little bit of time but is part of the hiking experience.
Why do You Need to Clean Internal Frame Backpacks?
You might be thinking that your backpack is used outdoors and bound to be dirty all the time. So why even bother with cleaning it? Well technically that is true but there are a few reasons to clean your internal frame backpack.
While hiking, you are not going to be overly concerned with messing a crumb or two in your backpack when you put food papers back. Over time, these crumbs add up and can result in your backpack becoming quite messy.
It also creates the perfect opportunity for little critters getting attracted to your backpack, either while being packed away in your cupboard between hikes or while you are sound asleep in your tent on a hiking trip.
I have lost clothes to those little critters. I for one, will do anything to avoid having them near me again.
Hot Sweaty Mess
Internal frame backpacks sit flush against your back and even if your backpack has ventilation, you will be sweating while walking. I am sure you can feel that sweaty mess in your back just thinking about it. Your sweat will be absorbed at the back of your backpack.
New sweat over old sweat, more new sweat, well yes that is gross. I don’t know about you but I can deal with mud and dirt, old sweat not so much.
Protecting Your Backpack
I have to admit, I am a neat freak but even I don’t pay that much attention to the surfaces when I put my backpack down. At times you will be tired and want to get the thing off your back so you can take a break.
Over time your backpack will pick up a lot of mud and dirt while hiking. This is all part of the fun and you definitely do not want to worry about your backpack getting splashed with a bit of mud.
But long term, that mud and dirt can start acting like sandpaper on your backpack and damage the fabric.
A Few Rules Before you get Started
- Never put your backpack into the washing machine or tumble dryer. Doing that is a sure way of ruining it.
- Use lukewarm water (not hot).
- Go light on the sponge or brush. You don’t want to harm the protective coatings. A cloth might be a better idea.
- Preferably use backpacking soap. Avoid the harsh toxic chemicals. They are not good for your backpack or your skin.
- Dry your backpack in the shade or inside, never in direct sunlight. The strong UV rays can damage the fabric.
- Take care when cleaning the zippers. They might have water-resistant coatings that will rub off if you brush too hard. If the zippers get stuck, use lubricant made for zippers.
How Often do you Need to Clean Internal Frame Backpacks?
A deep clean is certainly not necessary every time you hiked. To keep your backpack in good shape, it is worth it to do a light clean after each hike.
How often you do a deep clean will depend on how often you hike and where you go. If it has been years since you have done a deep clean, then yes, it might be time. Or maybe your last trip was extra messy, then you know, it is time to put in the extra effort.
After every hike, turn your backpack upside down and shake out any debris. Make sure you opened all the pockets and get rid of any crumbs, sand or dried mud. If shaking doesn’t do the job, you can use a vacuum cleaner to suck out the last bit of debris.
You can use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior of your backpack. Stubborn stains or spots might will need a little bit more and for that you can use backpacking soap.
A deep clean starts the same as a light clean. Turn your backpack upside down and shake out any debris and bring the vacuum cleaner for the debris that refuse to leave.
If you are lucky, you might have an internal frame backpack that allows for the internal frame to be removed. Before you do that though, make sure you read the instructions very clearly and judge how difficult it will be to put the frame back. If it looks like a big job or if it is a struggle to take it out, rather leave it. You will kick yourself when you end up with a clean bag but no a frame.
If your backpack allows, remove the hip-belt and shoulder straps to wash them separately with a sponge and soap.
Fill a bathtub with about 6 inches of lukewarm water. Submerge your backpack and wash it with backpack soap. Before you start scrubbing and brushing your backpack, remind yourself about the rules from earlier.
Fill your tub again with 6 inches of clean cool water and rinse your bag. Repeat if you cannot remove all the soap residue the first time.
Hang it up to dry in the shade or inside.
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Once your backpack is dry and ready to go, remember to add your Ten Essentials back to your backpack. If you want to take extra care, you can fill your backpack with newspaper and store upright. This will help keep its shape.
Your backpack is a big investment and caring for it properly will ensure the longevity of use. I hope you have a bit of fun cleaning your backpack while knowing you are busy building a stronger life.
Important to note: ALWAYS follow any specific product wash care instructions on the manufacturer’s tag on the inside of the product