We Asked 5 Parents How They Spot-Clean Their Kids’ Backpack Stains and You’ll Want to Save These Tricks

published Apr 12, 2023
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From rainy days to summer camps to lunch box explosions, kids’ backpacks are pretty much guaranteed to take a beating. Whatever they’ve been through, there’s some good news: There are solutions to fighting and removing those stubborn stains and spills — you just have to know who to ask for hacks! 

We asked five parents what they use to spot-clean their children’s backpacks, and found that there’s more than just one way to clean a dirty or stained kids’ backpack. Here are some of their best tips, plus where to get their favorite products.

Clorox Bleach Wipes

Patty Catalano, mom of two located in Marietta, Georgia, shared the following: “I use Clorox wipes for spills inside the bag. I don’t usually spot-clean their backpacks (eek! Should I be doing that more often?), but I toss them in the wash once or twice a year. If something looks really gross I’ll usually reach for a Magic Eraser or Folex spray.”

Tide Powdered Laundry Detergent

Beth Sasser, mom of two boys and avid TikToker (@bethsasser) in Alabama notes that she usually uses powdered Tide laundry detergent and water, then works the stain with a Scrub Daddy.

Throw It in the Wash

Sara, a mom to two kids in Aurora, Ontario, has another technique entirely: “Never spot clean backpacks or lunch bags — buy a kind that can go through the washing machine! With great quality, it’ll last for years. We tend to get four to five years out of our purchases, and that works out to a lower cost than a new backpack and lunch bag every year.”

Dawn Dish Soap

Rebecca Longshore, mom to a 1-year-old in New York City, swears by dabbing some Dawn Dish Soap onto a damp rag and gently scrubbing.

OxiClean or Baking Soda

Another mom of two in Orlando, Florida, shared that depending on the stain, she chooses between OxiClean or sprinkling baking soda on the stain, spraying it with distilled white vinegar, and scrubbing. 

When it comes to bigger stains, sometimes washing the entire backpack is best, either by hand or in the washing machine. Learn more about both techniques here

Additionally, USA TODAY’s Problem Solved, a series of how-tos for common household queries, shared this helpful video for how to wash backpacks in the washing machine.