How to Wash a Duffel Bag at Home

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Duffel bags can help us carry our items from A to B whether that’s to the gym, to a new country, or even to the laundromat. No matter where you take your duffel bag, it can become dirty rather quickly.

While the outer material of your bag can pick up stains, it’s the inside that needs the most attention. The inside of a duffel bag is where you store your sweaty and dirty clothes and this can create bad odor and a build up of bacteria if kept unclean.

Whether your duffel is covered in mud or it needs a post-gym clean, keep reading to find out how to wash a duffel bag.

What Materials Can You Wash?

It’s important to care for different types of fabrics. Some fabrics, such as suede and leather, shouldn’t get wet at all. Most fabrics will be fine but check the label of your bag and see if it is one of the following:

  • Canvas 
  • Washable polyester material
  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Vinyl 
  • Cotton
  • PVC

How to Clean a Duffel Bag by Hand

Cleaning your duffel bag by hand is a great solution – you can be as gentle or as rigorous as needed. Stubborn stains often need more attention while it is best to use caution when cleaning different materials. Cleaning your duffel bag by hand will allow you full control.

If you’re cleaning by hand, you will need: 

  • A scrub brush
  • A soft bristle brush
  • A cloth
  • Two or more towels
  • A bowl
  • Antibacterial soap or bleach-free gentle detergent

In order to take good care of your duffel bag and to help make it last longer, check the care labels to identify the fabric type and how they should be washed.

How to Wash a Duffel Bag at Home1

Step One: Prepare the Bag for Washing

Empty the duffel bag completely. Make sure to check the pockets. Remove any small items. 

Lay down some towels or place your bag in a bathtub or sink. 

Step Two: Clean the Material of the Bag

Add a few drops of soap or detergent to lukewarm water in your bowl. Dampen your cloth in the soapy water and begin wiping down your bag.

If your bag is durable like nylon gym bags or canvas bags, you may want to use a bristle brush to give it a deeper clean.

Step Three: Allow the Bag to Air-Dry

Make sure you have a space for your duffel bag to air-dry. The air-drying area should be:

  • Cool in temperature
  • Out of direct sunlight
  • Away from heat

Some bags may need to be stuffed with tissue to help keep the shape. If you do this, ensure the tissue is white and non-dyed (including newspapers) because the colors can run and stain your bag.

How to Wash a Duffel Bag with a Machine

If you want to put your duffel bag in the washing machine, it is especially important that you check the material. Canvas bags shouldn’t go in a washing machine, they should be hand washed instead. If your duffel bag is made from nylon or any other fabric listed above, go ahead and throw it in the machine.

Step One: Prepare Your Bag

Empty everything out including paper, tissue and anything small.

Check for removable pieces. For example, secure any straps you want to wash or simply remove them before washing. 

You’ll want to add some towels to the drum of the washing machine along with the bag to protect the machine and get an even wash.

Step Two: Choose the Right Setting and Detergent 

It can be tempting to set the machine to a regular cycle but duffel bags should be handled with care. It’s always best to opt for a delicate cycle.

When it comes to laundry detergent, you will want to choose a mild detergent to avoid harsh chemicals ruining your bag. Alternatively, you could use a sports detergent if your duffel is used to carry sweaty clothes.

Once you have the above sorted, go ahead and begin the wash!

Step Three: Drying Your Bag

The same drying method applies here: make sure you have a space for your duffel bag to air-dry. Choose a place that’s:

  • Cool in temperature
  • Out of direct sunlight
  • Away from heat

You may want to stuff your bag with white tissue or paper to help it keep its shape. Avoid stuffing with anything colored like gift paper or newspapers to eliminate the chance of ink stains. 

Can I Put a Duffel Bag in the Dryer?

After spending the time washing your duffel bag, you may be wondering whether you can dry it in a tumble dryer as a quick solution.

While many clothes can withstand the heat, it is best to leave duffel bags out to air dry. The heat from a dryer can cause damage to fabrics and hardware such as buckles and zippers.

All you need to do is hang your duffel bag out to dry. If you live somewhere with a warm climate, leaving it outside may do the trick but it’s best to avoid direct sunlight as this can cause colors to fade.

For a safe option, leave the bag indoors and follow the instructions above.


So, now you know how to wash a duffel bag at home. The good news is that most materials can be washed. By keeping your duffel bag clean, you can keep using it over and over again and avoid bad odors and harmful bacteria.

While washing your bag by hand may mean you dedicate an afternoon to cleaning, it is by far the most reliable cleaning method. Machine washing is great if you’re short on time and can produce great results but, as mentioned, you have less control over the result. 

One thing is for sure and that’s to avoid the tumble dryer. It’s a good idea to leave your freshly washed duffel bag out to dry in a cool area – stuffed or unstuffed. 

Now you should know how to keep your duffel bag clean and also have great tips for combating any future stains.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Dry Bags Free Guide

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions