How to deodorize a Backpack

How to Deodorize a Backpack in a Few Simple Steps

In this article, I share a step-by-step guide on how to deodorize a backpack. While a backpack is a convenient way to carry your belongings, it can also become a repository for various odors. 

Assuming you use your backpack daily, it can develop an odor after a while. This happens if you often take it to places like the gym or on hikes, where it can pick up sweat and dirt. 

This situation is uncomfortable and unpleasant. Most people throw it out and buy a new one because they need to learn how to get rid of it. This article will show you how to deodorize a backpack to smell fresh and clean.

Why Does My Backpack Smell Bad?

If you’ve ever been the victim of a smelly backpack, you know how foul it can be. Backpacks are great for carrying your things but can also be a breeding ground for bacteria. So why do backpacks often smell bad, and how can you prevent it?

How to deodorize a Backpack
man emptying a backpack

The first thing you need to do is identify the source of the smell. If it’s coming from the backpack lining, it could be because you’re not washing it often enough. The lining of the backpack can trap sweat and dirt, which can lead to a bad smell. 

If the smell comes from outside the backpack, it could be because you’re carrying wet or dirty items. Wet items, in particular, can cause mildew, which can lead to a bad smell.

Most backpacks are made of nylon or polyester, both synthetic materials. These materials are non-porous, so they don’t allow air to circulate. This creates a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.

Another possibility is that you’re not cleaning your backpack often enough. If you don’t clean it out regularly, dirt and sweat can build up, causing an unpleasant odor.

Related: How To Carry Your Tent While Backpacking in 5 Simple Ways

What to do before you deodorize a backpack

If your backpack starts to smell, it’s time to deodorize it. But before you do, there are a few things you should do to prepare your backpack. 

  • Take everything out of your backpack and give it a good shake to remove any dirt or debris trapped in the fabric. 
  • Check all of the pockets and compartments to make sure they’re empty. Then, give your backpack a good vacuum. 
  • If you have a detachable liner, remove it and wash it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Once your backpack is prepped and ready to go, you can deodorize it.

How To Deodorize A Backpack

Here are a few simple ways to deodorize your backpack.

1. Use baking soda.

How to deodorize a Backpack
baking soda

Baking soda is a natural odor absorber. Sprinkle some baking soda inside your backpack and let it sit overnight. In the morning, shake out the baking soda; your backpack should be smell-free.

2. Use essential oils.

how to get smell out of backpack
essential oils

Essential oils not only smell great but can also help neutralize odors. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a cotton ball and place them inside your backpack. Change out the cotton ball every few days or as needed.

3. Dry your backpack in the sun.

how to deodorize backpack
backpack drying

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can help to kill bacteria, which can cause odors. So, if your backpack starts to stink, try hanging it in direct sunlight for a few hours. 

4. Use Vinegar

how to deodorize backpack without washing
woman using vinegar

One of the simplest ways to remove odors from anything is vinegar, which is present in almost every home. Spray vinegar and a few drops of lime juice in a spray bottle.

Then, apply it to your backpack and other areas that smell particularly ripe. After a few hours, rinse the backpack with warm, soapy water to eliminate the vinegar smell.

5. Put It in the washer

how to clean a backpacking pack
washing machine

Check the tag to determine if your backpack is suitable for machine washing. You can easily clean most small daypacks and hydration packs after the trip by placing them in the washer on a gentle cycle.

Hand wash your backpack in a tub of warm, soapy water if you believe it will be damaged in the washing machine, and then rinse it to get rid of any lingering odors.

How To Deodorize a Backpack Without Washing

Over time, your backpack will develop an odor if you use it regularly. Follow the steps below to deodorize your backpack without washing it.

  • Empty your backpack and remove all the contents.
  • Start cleaning. The best way to clean a backpack is to spot-clean it with mild soap and a damp cloth. You can also use a handheld vacuum to remove any dirt or debris.
  • After that, you can now deodorize it using baking soda. Sprinkle some inside your backpack and let it sit for a few hours. Afterward, vacuum the baking soda.
  • You can also use a fabric refresher or backpack cleaner to help remove any lingering odors. Spray the fabric refresher onto the inside of your backpack and let it dry.
  • Once your backpack is completely dry, you can put all your items back inside and enjoy a fresh-smelling backpack!

Also Read: How to Wash a North Face Backpack in a Few Simple Steps

How To Disinfect A Backpack

How to deodorize a Backpack

To try new foods, they must be delicious and hygienic. Similarly, a backpack should never contain bacteria or other foreign objects. Two items can clean a backpack. 

  • Bleaching powder
  • Disinfectant.

Most of the time, you need help applying bleach to your backpack, and because of this, using a disinfectant may be necessary. You can soak it in water, but the best process is to rub the bag with a soft brush. 

  • Prepare a solution of warm water and disinfectant (you’ll get the amount and ratio on the pack). 
  • Allow the bag to rest in a clear area for 5–7 minutes. 
  • Once more, soak it in warm water and rinse.
  •  Allow it to dry for two days.


Now that you know how to deodorize the backpack, I’m confident you will have to deal with the awful backpack smells. Comment below if you’ve encountered a similar issue and what you tried to do to resolve it.

Related: How to Use a USB Charging Port in a Backpack

How do I get rid of the smell in my school bag?

Take a cup of baking soda and pour it into the bottom of the bag. After leaving this for the night, discard it. This will give you time to prepare the bags for a pleasant scent while also helping to neutralize the odor.

How do you clean the inside of a backpack?

You should fill a bathtub, large basin, or sink with warm water and a tablespoon of gentle detergent. Put the backpack directly in the water if it can be submerged (check the care label). With a sponge or washcloth, scrub the backpack’s interior and exterior.

How do you deodorize a backpack strap?

Get a bottle of Lysol, pour warm water into a tub, add the Lysol, and then place the backpack inside. Allow it to sit for up to 30 minutes. Then drain the tub and fill it up again with water. The pack should continue to sit for a few minutes.

How do you get the smell of sour milk out of a bag?

Baking soda can eliminate smells from your backpack. Either scatter some inside the bag, place some inside a plastic bag, and leave the bag open. Give the baking soda a few hours to absorb the odors before closing the bag. You can also use a baking soda pod made for refrigerators.

How do you get skunk smell out of a backpack?

Combine six parts water, one part baking soda, and one part hydrogen peroxide. Because hydrogen peroxide can bleach and fade colors if applied directly to fabrics, combine ingredients thoroughly. Submerge the stinky items completely, then let them soak for at least an hour.

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