How To Wash A North Face Backpack (Clean & Care Guide)

As you’ve learned from our North Face backpack reviews, North Face backpacks are great for a variety of different functions. Whether you’re using your backpack to hike, bike, trek, or head to the classroom, it’s important to take care of your versatile bag, and the best way to do that is to keep it clean.

Here we’ve covered exactly how to do that with step-by-step instructions on both hand washing and how to wash a North Face backpack in the washer.

What Materials Are North Face Backpacks Made Of?

One of the main things that set the North Face backpack brand apart from others is the company’s dedication to quality materials. You won’t find any poorly made, flimsy backpacks here, and it’s all because of the top-of-the-range materials they use.

The exact list of materials that make up your North Face backpack depends on the specific model you’re using. Here’s a quick breakdown of materials used to manufacture some of the most popular North Face backpacks on the market today:

  • North Face Recon Backpack
    600D Polyester Toile, 500D Nylon Oxford Slub, 420D Nylon, 210D Cordura® Nylon Ripstop, Polyester Jacquard Camo
  • North Face Surge Backpack
    500D Nylon Oxford Slub, 420 D Nylon, 210D Cordura® Nylon Ripstop
  • North Face Backpack Borealis
    600D Polyester Toile, 500D Nylon Oxford Slub, 420D Nylon, 210D Cordura® Nylon Ripstop, Polyester Jacquard Camo
  • North Face Backpack Jester
    600D polyester, 450D x 300D heather polyester, 600D geo emboss polyester, 1200d polyester

The steps we’ll go over below we’ll be suitable for all of these materials, whether you’re looking for answers to how to wash a North Face Recon backpack, how to wash a North Face Borealis backpack, a Surge, or a Jester.

How To Wash A North Face Backpack

Can You Machine Wash Your North Face Backpack?

This is the big question that’s on the minds of many North Face backpack owners. While some people claim that yes, it’s possible to machine wash your North Face Backpack, this is not advisable.

In the backpack product care guide, the company says that “the best way to clean our backpacks is to spot clean with a damp cloth, then let it air dry. We do not recommend fully submerging our backpacks in water.” Since putting it in the washing machine means fully submerging it in water, it’s not the recommended cleaning method.

However, it is technically possible, so we’ll cover the steps on exactly how to clean a North Face backpack in the washing machine later on.

How to Hand Wash Your North Face Backpack

The best way to wash your backpack is to put in some elbow grease and do it by hand. For this process, you’ll need access to a large sink or bathtub, a non-bleaching mild detergent, a cloth or paper towels, a toothbrush, and a hanger.

Once you’ve gathered up your supplies, here’s what to do:

  1. 1
    Remove all the things inside your backpack - This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people leave items in their backpacks as they clean them! To prevent water damage to your possessions, it’s best to empty the bag first.
  2. 2
    Brush off any dirt, debris, etc. - Before using soap, take a dry paper towel and brush off any surface-level gunk that has formed on the exterior of the backpack. A toothbrush comes in handy for cleaning along the seams and zipper.
  3. 3
    Use cold water and a detergent - The safest way to prevent damage to the bag is to wipe it down with a small amount of water and a mild detergent. Dip a paper towel or cloth in your water-detergent mixture and start wiping down the bag.
  4. 4
    Rinse the bag thoroughly - By rinse, we mean that you should perform another wipe down, but this time skip the detergent and use pure water instead.
  5. 5
    Dry the backpack - Once you’ve “rinsed” the bag, it’s really important that you dry it off completely to avoid rusting and corrosion. Since you didn’t submerge it completely in water with this method, it shouldn’t be too wet, but you still might want to hang it up on a hanger to let it air out and dry.

For choosing your detergent, double-check that it’s completely free of bleach. Even though bleach is generally great for getting things clean, it will discolor your backpack. OxiClean works well, but you can use any mild bleach-free detergent that you have around the house.

How To Machine Wash Your North Face Backpack

Sometimes spot cleaning isn’t enough to get a backpack clean, especially if you’ve been using it for outdoor excursions like camping and hiking. In that case, it might be time to turn to your washing machine for help.

If you do choose to use a washing machine to clean your North Face backpack, there are a few things you should always do to ensure the bag doesn’t become damaged in the wash cycle:

  1. 1
    Remove all items in the bag - be sure to check the pockets!
  2. 2
    Clean the backpack by hand before putting it in the washing machine
  3. 3
    Place the bag in a laundry bag or pillowcase to keep it more protected
  4. 4
    Use detergent sparingly - a little goes a long way, and less is more!
  5. 5
    Wash on a gentle cycle to prevent damage to your bag
  6. 6
    Dry your backpack by hanging it to air dry - do not put it in the dryer! For best drying results, hang it upside down in a place where it won’t dry too quickly (avoid direct sunlight)
Can You Machine Wash A North Face Backpack

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are North Face backpacks water-resistant?

Here’s what the North Face company has to say about that: "Most of our backpacks are water-resistant, but only some are waterproof. Please refer to each backpack's product page on TheNorthFace.Com for specific information about features.”

That doesn’t mean that you should fully submerge your backpack. Too much exposure to water can cause rusting on the zipper and other components, so you’re best off to keep it dry. 

If you are looking for a backpack that can withstand any weather, do check our guide on waterproof backpack specially curated for your need.

Can I dry my North Face backpack in the dryer?

No! Do not use a dryer or any other type of fast-drying method; it could shrink the bag or even melt some of the components. The recommended way to dry your backpack is to hang it in a place where it can dry slowly (like the garage) on a hanger in the upside-down position.

How do you deodorize a North Face backpack without washing it?

If your backpack is giving off a bad smell, try hand washing it with a mild detergent that has a fresh scent. If this is a problem you frequently deal with, consider getting a deodorizer pack to keep inside the bag at all times.

How should I store my North Face backpack to keep it clean?

The best thing you can do is to store it inside. If you choose to keep it in the garage or your home’s mudroom, try to keep it off the ground to avoid it coming in contact with dirt and debris.


A North Face backpack is a great investment, so keep your investment protected by occasionally washing it. It’s recommended that you wash your backpack by hand, but in dire situations, you can use the washing machine. Just be sure to wash the bag on a gentle cycle and hang it to dry.

  • Updated October 30, 2021