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My Disgusting Backpack – Step-by-step guide to Cleaning Your Backpack

By |2019-01-15T12:08:25+11:00October 22nd, 2012|Blog, Travel Preparation, Travel Savvy|7 Comments

My backpack is important to me. As a perpetual nomad my backpack is my home, my friend, my one true constant from one adventure to the next. But most importantly… it’s where I keep my stuff.

My backpack has been through some tough shit… literally, shit. I imagine more chicken shit than any other form, considering the amount of times it’s ridden beside or under chickens, but really it could be any type of shit.

Then there’s ‘the moist’ which can be felt over the entire pack when it’s pulled out from under a bus, down from the roof of a bus, or emerges on the conveyor belt from an airline… Then there’s the stains, the dirt, the smell, and potentially (this will get most of you) the potential for bugs to be hiding out in the crevices  ready to settle into your home sweet home when you get back.

Arriving back from my most recent trip to Central America I took a close look at my pack…. and it wasn’t pretty. The thing that most concerned me as I emptied it and went to throw it in the cupboard was the niggling little thought in the back of my head “it looks like a place where bugs live”… and so I took it to the bathroom instead. Here’s my step by step guide to what followed (obviously not approved by the manufacturer!!):

How to give your Backpack a Bath

1. Fill bath with water, raid cupboards for range of harsh cleaning products ensuring good bubble to grime ratio.

2. Put backpack into bath… holding back any tears…

3. Submerge backpack in bath water… yes, push the whole thing in. For those too attached, you may require a ‘second person’ for this:

4. Find appropriate scrubbing device and pull extra mean face:


5.Scrub the absolute shit out of backpack… (this may be taken literally for some packs, like mine).

Scrub Scrub!!

6. When water resembles this you’ve done a good job:

7. Remove pack from water, ensuring to rinse off all the bubbles, and leave outside to dry for approximately three days.


Tadaaaa! There you have it guys. Now you can store your beloved backpack away for your next adventure without worrying what creatures lurk in the seams!!

Kimberley Casey

Founder of Time as a Traveller, where Independent Travellers share their extraordinary experiences. Kim is an Independent Traveller since 1997, and has travelled to 60+ countries. Writer. Photographer. Lover of Freedom. Specialist in off the beaten track, adventure, long-term budget travel and everything Latin America. Good at roughing it, long haul trips, and sleeping on all modes of transport. Read her story at

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  1. Brooke vs. the World October 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    Mmm yes that water after the wash is awesomely disgusting 😉

    • Kimberley Casey October 31, 2012 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      Oooooo yeah, and I utterly destroyed the kitchen scrubbing brush! My mum phoned me especially to thank me after reading this post!

  2. Daniel McBane - Funny Travel Stories November 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I’ve been putting off cleaning my back pack, but judging by the smell, I’m guessing the water would look something like that. I’ve been hoping it breaks before I have to clean it and I can just get a new one.

    • Kimberley Casey November 11, 2012 at 3:37 am - Reply

      Yep, it gets pretty disgusting! I say give the pack a bath 😉 A new pack is always an option, unless you’re emotionally attached! Nice to meet you Daniel! 🙂

  3. Sharon Loh January 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Hahaha you know what? The last time I washed my backpack was in 2010. I think I should follow your steps. With that exact mean face 😛

    • Kimberley Casey January 31, 2013 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Hi Sharon, haha desperate times desperate measures! The kitchen scrubbing brush mysteriously ‘disappeared’ afterwards, for the health of the household. Sometimes you just need a good Grrr face 😉

  4. […] Step by Step Guide to Cleaning Your Backpack, Time as a Traveller […]

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