Last Updated: August 24, 2023

How To Wash A Herschel Backpack 

Do you own a Herschel backpack that you’ve never washed before? You’ll need to do it eventually and this guide will tell you everything you need to know about washing a Herschel bag.

It’s not as simple as you might have hoped, especially if you don’t want to damage your Herschel backpack. Can you machine wash the backpack, which soap should you use, and what to do about hardcore stains are just a few of the questions answered in this guide. 

How To Wash A Herschel Backpack

  1. Empty your backpack
  2. Remove any dirt or debris
  3. Grab a mild soap or detergent & soft sponge
  4. Mix with water
  5. Clean in a soft circular motion
  6. Air Dry

There is obviously more to it than that, so read on to see what’s the best way to wash your Herschel backpack, but also to see what you should avoid when cleaning the bag.

Empty Your Backpack

Herschel Backpack

First thing’s first – make sure you’ve removed everything from your backpack. Double-check all the pockets and remove the laptop pad as well. It’s not a huge deal even if something is left in the bag, but it can make the cleaning process more difficult.

If you leave even a small piece of paper in one of the pockets, it will disintegrate when it gets wet, which will just make a bigger mess that you also need to clean up. So, before you start spraying and soaking your backpack, empty it entirely for the easiest (and quickest) cleaning process.

Vacuum Any Debris

If there’s any debris or crumbs left after you’ve emptied the backpack, you can use a small handheld vacuum to clean them up. Alternatively, you can just tip the backpack over and shake it until all the debris falls out, but a vacuum is a bit more efficient.

It’s important to do this before you’ve gotten the bag wet – some things will just make a bigger mess when they get wet, so don’t skip this step if you’re genuinely trying to clean your Herschel bag.

Use a Mild Soap/Detergent

Herschel recommends that you only use mild soaps or detergents with the backpack. They suggest that nothing stronger than a dish soap should be used so that the integrity of the material and the color are not affected.

You can use dishwashing soap, mild body soap, or even a delicate laundry detergent. If you want to use a liquid laundry detergent, I would recommend something mild – the best ones are the detergents made for wool, and preferably get something that’s specifically for colored items.

Use Soft Tools

Soft Brush

If there are any visible, grimy stains on your Herschel backpack, you can try to get them out before washing. Use a soft brush – a soft makeup brush, a toothbrush, and even a painting brush will do. Try to brush the stains out before washing the bag – this will work if there’s something sticky that has dried on the bag.

It’s also important that you use a soft sponge for washing the backpack. You can use a kitchen sponge if you use just the softer, non-abrasive side, or you can use makeup sponges and even body sponges. As long as it’s soft and non-abrasive, it shouldn’t damage the backpack materials.

Using harsh sponges and wires can damage the protective coating of a backpack, which will hinder its performance.

Clean the Zippers

Since you’re washing the backpack, you might as well clean all the zippers too. Mix some white vinegar with boiling water and use a toothbrush to clean the zipper teeth. This will remove any debris and buildup, and it will make the zippers of your backpack as good as new.

You can also use warm water and mild soap if you don’t have any vinegar handy. Since you’ve already gone through the process of cleaning the zippers, it’s not a bad idea to lubricate them a little bit – WD-40 Specialist Silicone Lubricant is the best thing for rusty zippers, but you can use beeswax or even olive oil if you don’t have any WD-40 handy.

Clean in a Circular Motion

The best way to get out stains is to brush them in a circular motion. Dampen the area you’re trying to clean, and rub some mild soap on the stain – you can use your hands, a toothbrush, a small sponge, or anything you have handy really.

You can use warm water to get out the stains, just make sure that it’s not too hot. Boiling water can damage the bag’s material, so lukewarm water will be your best friend when washing a Herschel bag.

Don’t be scared if the material looks lighter in color – that’s probably just the soap residue, and it will look better after you’ve rinsed it.

Air Dry

herschel pop quiz bookbag

The best way to dry your now clean Herschel bag is to hang it to air dry. Putting it in the dryer is not an option – the high heat will damage the material and you’ll be left with an unusable backpack.

When you’ve washed and rung out the backpack, the best thing to do is place it on a hanger. You can try to iron the fabric with your hands a little bit before that so that the entire bag isn’t full of wrinkles when it is dry. Also, make sure that the laptop pad isn’t inside the backpack when it’s hung to dry – this will just make the process last a lot longer since the spongy material absorbs a lot of water.

If you can’t wait for the clean backpack to air dry on its own, you can speed up the process with a blow dryer. Just put it on the lowest heat setting or even make it blow cool air if your hair dryer has that option. This will speed up the drying process, but it does require a lot more involvement than just hanging it to air dry.


Can I wash my Herschel backpack in the washing machine?

Herschel doesn’t recommend machine washing their backpacks at all. Machine washing a Herschel backpack could damage the material’s integrity and damage the bag beyond repair. It can also make the colors fade, and it’s definitely not recommended if you want your backpack to look like it did before the wash.

That being said, I have to point out that Herschel backpacks are made from Polyester Ripstop. I’ve personally washed several polyester backpacks in the washer, and I haven’t seen any damage.

That doesn’t mean I’m advising you to do something the brand has clearly stated you shouldn’t do, but if you don’t have time for hand washing, I’m pretty sure putting it in a mesh bag and throwing it in the washer on a gentle cycle won’t render the Herschel bag unusable.

If you decide to try to wash Herschel backpack in the washer, be sure to use mild laundry detergent. Get liquid soap that’s for colored and delicate garments, and avoid using harsh powder detergents.

Also, make sure that you’re only washing it with cold water, up to 30 degrees Celsius. Warm and hot water can damage the fabric, but it’s worth noting that cold water won’t get any hardcore stains out. If you want to machine wash the backpack to try and get some nasty stains out, you won’t be able to achieve much without risking damage to the bag.

One thing to note is that you should never put a backpack with genuine leather accents in the washer. If you have one of the Herschel backpacks that’s got leather details, hand washing and spot cleaning are your only options.

Can I soak my Herschel backpack?

Yes, but only in lukewarm water. This is the best thing to do if you’re trying to hand wash the entire backpack. You can fill up a sink, a tub, or even a small plastic basin. Fill it up with lukewarm or warm water, add some mild soap to the water and make sure it’s mixed in, and then put your backpack in the water.

You can soak it for 20-30 minutes, but it’s important to note that there really isn’t any reason to let the backpack soak longer. Also, if there are any stains on the backpack, it’s best to let them soak for at least 15 minutes before you attempt to get them out with a brush or a sponge.

When you’re done soaking the backpack, you need to rinse it. Herschel doesn’t say if you can use the rinse and spin cycle for this, but it’s safe to assume that you shouldn’t because they advise against using the washing machine at all.

You must rinse out the backpack properly and get rid of all the soap residue. If you let the residue dry, it will just look like a stain and you’ve spent all that time washing the bag for nothing.

However, you should avoid being too aggressive when wringing out the Herschel backpack. It’s not a bad idea to get some towels or kitchen rags to absorb excess water, and it’s definitely a better idea than just violently wringing out the backpack until all water is gone.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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