How to Wash a Duffle Bag, With and Without a Washing Machine

How to Wash a Duffle Bag, With and Without a Washing Machine

Knowing how to wash duffle bags when they're dirty is essential.

Duffle bags are one of the most common ways to transport items when a backpack isn't suitable. Clothing, sporting equipment, gym gear, and travel necessities are all examples of what you might find in the average gym bag. However, just like anything else made from fabric, duffle bags are liable to pick up dirt, odor, and stains during use. Over enough time, bacteria like E. coli can accumulate in gym bags. Cleaning your duffle bag becomes essential to prevent mold and bacteria from developing. That leads many people to wonder, "can you wash a duffle bag?" This guide will cover how to clean a duffle bag, both with a washing machine and without. But first, what is a duffle bag?

What is a Duffle Bag?

A duffle bag, also referred to as a gym bag or a weekender, is a large bag made of a flexible material like canvas, nylon, or leather. The name is derived from the town of Duffel in Belgium, where the canvas-like material the first duffle bags were made of originated. The original duffle bags were smaller than modern ones and opened on one end with a drawstring closure. They were used mainly by the military during the first and second World Wars and were popularized by Californian surfers in the mid-twentieth century. These days, duffle bags often feature zipper openings, multiple pockets, and straps for easy carrying. Some even come with wheels! The duffle bag is the obvious choice when you need to move items too big or too many for a backpack, and a suitcase would be impractical or unnecessary.

What types of duffle bags can you wash?

Proper care for your duffle bag can increase its lifetime. Dirt and odors will naturally accumulate on your bag over time (especially if you're using it as a gym bag!). Washing your bag frequently can prevent stains and lasting odors from developing, but the material your bag is made of determines how you can wash it. Can you put a duffle bag in the washer? The answer is that it depends. If your bag is made from leather or suede, it shouldn't get wet, as it can damage the bag. However, most bags made of cloth, nylon, polyester, or similar fabrics can be washed by machine or hand. Check your bag's label for definitive cleaning instructions before machine washing! But how do you wash a duffle bag properly? We'll explore the answer to that question next, both with and without using a washing machine.

How to clean a duffle bag in the washing machine

The easiest way to clean your duffle bag is in the washing machine. Always check the tag for cleaning instructions to ensure you have a machine washable duffle bag. If you're in doubt, the better option is to wash the bag by hand.

To wash your bag in the washing machine:

Step 1: Set the machine to cold water on a gentle cycle, and use a mild detergent.

Step 2: Turn the bag inside out, and wash it with a load of blankets or towels, as delicate pieces of clothing could be damaged by the bag. You can even put the bag inside a pillowcase to provide extra cushion.

Step 3: When the cycle is complete, reshape your bag and allow it to air dry—reshaping your bag before drying is vital so the bag can maintain its structure.

Never put your duffle bag in the dryer, as it can damage or shrink the bag.

How to wash a duffle bag by hand

Washing your duffle bag by hand takes more labor than machine washing but gives you peace of mind knowing your bag won't get damaged, and it is still an easy process! To wash your duffle, you'll need a bathtub or large sink, and a bucket filled with a mixture of cool water and a half tablespoon of mild detergent.

How to wash your duffle bag by hand:

Step 1: With the duffle closed, dip a sponge or scrub brush into the bucket and thoroughly scrub the outside of the bag.

Step 2: Rinse away the suds with the faucet or shower head and allow the bag to air dry.

Step 3: After an hour or two of air drying, use a vacuum or lint roller to clean the inside of the bag.

Step 4: Using antibacterial wipes, wipe out the inside of the bag and leave it open to dry. If you don't have antibacterial wipes, you can also use a slightly damp towel with a dot of soap to wipe down inside the bag.

Step 5 (optional): If you notice any stains, you can use a stain remover as necessary; follow the instructions on the bottle of the stain remover.

Step 6 (optional): For duffle bags with wheels, you can also clean those by hand. First, scrub the wheels with a sponge dipped in warm soapy water, rotating the wheels to ensure a complete washing. Dry the wheels immediately to prevent rusting, and apply lubricant if necessary.

Spot cleaning is a simple way to extend your bag's life.

How to deodorize a duffle bag

Duffle bags, particularly gym bags, can gain an unpleasant smell after repeated use. Even after washing your bag, sometimes stronger odors can linger. What's a good way to deodorize a duffle bag? One can use various options if antibacterial wipes or a soapy towel won't do the trick. One popular method is leaving baking soda or unused teabags in the bag overnight. The bag should have a fresh new scent when you remove them in the morning. You can also use a deodorizing product like Scotchguard or Deoblock, specially designed to remove old odors and prevent new ones from accumulating. Logotech offers custom branded Deoblock deodorizers to help you keep your bags fresh. Smelly gym bags can be a major bummer; care for your duffle bag properly and prevent them from accumulating!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How often should I wash my duffle bag?

A: That depends on how often you're using it! If you use your bag regularly, like taking it to the gym, it's recommended to clean it at least once a month. However, if you use your bag sparingly, once a year is adequate.

Q: Can you machine wash leather bags?

A: Cleaning leather bags is just as crucial as other duffle bags, but getting the leather wet is not a good idea, so the washing machine is definitely off the table. We recommend using a leather cleaning solution to spot-clean your leather duffle bags.

Q:  Can duffle bags be dry cleaned?

A: Generally duffle bags can be dry-cleaned, but it depends from one dry cleaning establishment to the next. To be safe, one should ask an employee at the cleaners if they do bags and backpacks. The safest option is to wash your bag by hand, as the dry-cleaning process could damage it.