Can You Wash a Leather Backpack?

Can You Wash a Leather Backpack

Leather backpacks provide perhaps one of the most comfortable ways to carry our items on a daily basis. They are durable and fashionable, given they are made of real full grain leather, and many people absolutely love them. But leather backpacks, just like any other leather bag really, can also get dirty by many different ways. That’s when the golden question “Can you wash a leather backpack?” pops in everyone’s head. And we are here to answer it as simply and quickly as possible.

[Good Read: Can You Wash Leather?]

Surface Cleaning

The safest way to clean your leather backpack is to do it manually by hand, of course. This will help you control the areas and the pressure in which you use to clean the backpack. It will also allow you to avoid clasps and other fastenings to prevent any scratches or damage to the surface of leather. You will need to follow a simple 5-step guide to get the best out of it.

1. Prepare the backpack

Make sure you empty the backpack and remove any loose fastenings. Unclip the straps if possible so you can easily clean the backpack. It seems silly to even mention such a step, but there are people who throw their backpacks directly into the washing machine…with their belongings inside. Therefore, we would rather be safe and say more than necessary.

2. Prepare the cleaning solution

We have covered 5 best leather cleaners here. The article has “for purses” in the title, but these cleaning solutions are perfectly suitable for any leather backpack, briefcase, wallet or other leather product.

So, prepare one of the solutions (you should start with #1 and work your way down if unsuccessful), or if you prefer, there are leather cleaners that can be used to clean your leather backpack, which will help to enhance the life of your leather.

3. Clean your leather backpack

In small, circular motions, start to clean your leather backpack using a soft rag. Do not use too much water as you only want to clean the surface and not soak the leather through. It is also important that you use a soft cloth to prevent any scratches to the surface of leather.

If you are using dish soap, you can gently clean the clasps of the backpack.

4. Air dry your backpack

As much as you want your bag to dry quickly, it is important to let it air dry and do not place it in the dryer as the heat from the dryer could cause it to warp or otherwise damage the backpack. If you wonder how long does it take for a leather backpack to dry, this article here will answer that question.

5. Treat the backpack

After it is completely dry, use a leather conditioner or balsam on your backpack. This will stop the back from feeling too stiff and prevent any cracks in the bag. As an added bonus, it will also make it more resistant to stains, helping your backpack look fresh and clean longer.

Washing Machine

Now, you are probably wondering if instead of following all those steps above you could simply throw it into a washing machine and see the magic happen with no effort. There is no direct answer to that, as there are many factors involved in whether or not your leather backpack would survive the watery spin.

However, in general, if the backpack is of very high-quality, meaning it was made of full grain or top grain leathers, then yes, they would survive. You would need to apply a lot of leather balsam afterwards to return the shininess and beauty to the backpack, but it’s possible. If, however, you bought a cheap “leather” backpack, then it was probably made of cheap bonded leather, and such a product would certainly not survive such a wash.

[Good Read: Differences Between Top Grain and Bonded Leather]

If you do choose to go this way, which is not recommended, but let’s say you still want to go there, please use the most natural cleaning solutions as possible. Ordinary washing capsules contain a lot of chemicals that can destroy the integrity of leather and therefore destroy it entirely. Even if it did survive, it would never look or feel the same.

Therefore, put in some basic soap, wash it on a very “small load” function, and let it dry naturally afterwards.


There you have it. If you did not read the article above and just dropped down to the summary to see a yes or no answer to the question “Can you wash a leather backpack?”, then the answer is yes. You can, but preferably by hand with the solutions provided in the link. However, in some cases, you could risk throwing your leather backpack into a washing machine and get it back in good shape.

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