Millican HQ | How to wash and</br>clean your backpack.

Millican HQHow to wash and
clean your backpack.

Find everything you need to know to wash and clean you backpack including how to handwash, remove mould and mildew and maintain your pack in a sustainable way.


As a brand passionate about sustainability, we’re advocates for making things last. Backpacks, daypacks and bags bear the brunt of a lot of our daily activities, as well as the unforgiving throes of air travel, public transport and being repeatedly tossed in the boot.

As practical staples in our wardrobe (as well as some of our biggest adventures), our backpacks deserve plenty of care. With years of experience and unique expertise behind us, today we’re sharing a helpful guide on how to wash and care for your pack, ensuring it stands the test of time.

Backpack washing and care

Regardless of how you use them, daypacks, duffles and tote bags tend to get a lot of wear and tear attracting dirt is pretty inevitable. Here’s how to tackle it.

How to wash a backpack

When thinking about keeping your pack clean, you might be wondering, ‘can you wash a backpack in a washing machine?’ Ultimately, if you’ve invested in a quality backpack that you want to last, you should always avoid washing machines, dry cleaners and tumble dryers.

Even with gentle wash settings, higher quality backpacks tend to use a combination of specialist materi als that require proper attention and care. For example, many bags in the Millican range are super durable and water resistant, made possible using our part recycled Bionic Canvas fabric with a paraffin wax coating. Machines will not only affect the struct ure of bags like these but will impact the effectiveness and lifetime of the materials. Most often, machines will also have detergent residue that can ruin the finish of your bag, leaving it susceptible to damage.

Instead, let your bag dry out completely (in the case of dampness from rain or mud), and use a soft bristled brush to remove the dirt. For tougher stains, apply a little moisture with flaked soap to gently work out the stain, leaving it to dry away from any direct heat. To keep your bag performi ng and looking as good as ever, you should also get into the habit of topping up your wax coating semi regularly. We highly recommend Nikiwax wax cotton spray and Otter Wax for any coated backpack, including those applicable in our own range.

Naturally, every fabric will have different cleaning and care requirements (i e using leather balm to prevent cracking). As a good first step, always check the cleaning guides that come with your pack, and always proceed with caution. While some bags will give the g o ahead for machine washing, we will always advise against it. After all, we know a thing or two about long lasting bags

How to clean backpack stains

Again, when considering how to clean backpack stains, fabric and construction is incredibly important. For more delicate fabrics or those requiring treatments (such as leather, suede and wax coated backpacks), be mindful of the texture and structural integrity the fabric provides.

You may need to shop around for specific tools and products, such as leath er soap and balm, wax spray, and gentle cleansing cloths. Outside of specialist fabrics, stains on most cotton blends and synthetics can be tackled with a gentle brush and natural cleaning ingredients. Old reliables in the natural cleaning department inclu de bicarbonate of soda, soda water, lemon juice and white vinegar mixed with a bit of warm water.

Where you can, always opt for natural substances and be sure to do a patch test on a small, discreet area (especially if this is your first attempt at washi ng your pack). Be sure to avoid excessive scrubbing as this can also impact the surface and reliability of the fabric.

How to hand wash a backpack

The honest truth? We’re fans of the hand washing method. At Millican, we’re consistently trying to reduce our impact, and washing machines aren’t always the most economic or environmental choice it also really won’t do for your backpack either.

By learning how to clean backpack stains, you can significantly reduce the water and energy used as part o f the necessary maintenance of your bag. Depending on how delicate the fabric is, you may want a soft microfibre cloth, ideal for leather, suede and waxy surfaces. However, in most instances, a soft natural brush alongside some organic soaps and cleaners w ill do the trick.

For all over hand washing, always avoid hot water or fully submerging your pack. Most backpacks are not designed to have excessive moisture on the inside of the bag, hence the emphasis on waterproofing the outer layer. Many quality bags will also use specialist bonding materials, such as leather glue, which does not bode well when exposed to hot water. Once dried, always finish your backpack washing routine with the appropriate wax or balm.

How to clean mould and mildew from your backpack

There are some backpacks that we use every day and some that we keep for more seasonal activities. Hiking packs and travel bags are often stored in attics and garages, susceptible to moisture, mould and mildew.

Before packing your food and clothes in soiled packs, it’s important for your own safety to know how to clean mould off backpacks. For tough cases of mould pre treating the area may be necessary if the material is suitable, spot treat your bag with some lukewarm water along with soap flakes or natural substances like bicarbonate of soda before working in a gentle lather.

Ideally, if you’ve invested in a quality bag, you should consider a dedicated storage area that is not damp or cold. This will reduce the poten tial for mould and mildew and will make it easier to remove if a few spots do appear. Inevitably, some bags will get to the point of beyond saving. To avoid that, keep up the regular and continuous care.

With all that in mind, our hope is that your backp ack care routine is as easy and smooth as it can be. If you’re on the hunt for a sustainable, quality daypack duffle or bag, we can help browse the full Millican range to find your new favourite.