Stories in action.

Hey, urban explorers and adventure enthusiasts! Today, we're delving deeper into something we get asked about all the time – how to wash and maintain our backpacks. These everyday sidekicks bear the brunt of our hustle, from work commutes to spontaneous getaways. But when was the last time you gave your trusty backpack some love? No worries, it's time for an extended crash course in Backpack TLC – how to wash, care for, and keep those backpacks looking sharp, whether it's a Day Owl backpack or another reliable companion.

 Cleaning 101: Show Some Suds Love

  1. Spot-Cleaning Mishaps

Life's messy, spills happen. If you've got a little stain situation, grab a damp cloth and a mild detergent. We like Dr. Bronner's  or Woolite Delicates, but whatever you have around works fine. Gently dab the spot – no need for superhero strength. For stubborn stains, a mix of vinegar and water might be your secret weapon. Just test it out in an inconspicuous area first – no one wants unexpected tie-dye effects.

  1. Dealing with Odors

Backpacks, like seasoned travelers, can pick up interesting scents. The Day Owl Pro and Pro Slim have a neoprene sleeve that we originally made for a bottle of wine, but also easily fits a set of smelly gym clothes (if the need arises).  To clean out a smelly compartment, give it a good shake outside to ditch loose debris, then sprinkle some baking soda inside. Regular baking soda will usually do, but for intense smells we go with the Arm and Hammer Oxiclean Pet Fresh Odor Eliminator  Let it chill for a bit, and vacuum or shake it out. Your bag will breathe a sigh of relief.

  1. The Machine-Wash Conundrum

Some backpacks are cool with a machine wash, others not so much. Day Owl's prefer spot cleaning. When in doubt, check the care label – it's like a love note from your bag telling you what it needs. If it's a go, toss it in on a gentle cycle. Remember to check ALL the pockets first (we've lost passports this way).  It's almost never a good idea to put a bag in the dryer so simply hang it up outside or above the bathtub to dry. 

 Material Matters: The Day Owl Edition

  1. Waxed Canvas Wonder

If you're rocking a Day Owl backpack with that sweet waxed canvas, you're in for a treat. It was originally made for Timberland Boots, so it's tough. That said, it's not invincible. For everyday cleaning, a soft brush or a damp cloth does wonders. Embrace the natural wear and tear – it's like your backpack's story etched in every mark.

If, for whatever reason, you want to recondition your bag and get rid of the  natural marks that come from everyday use, here's an easy shortcut-Take a hot hairdryer to the canvas.  The marks will melt back into the material, leading your bag looking fresh and new.

  1. Storm Flaps and Zippers

Your Day Owl's storm flaps and zippers are the fortress gates against the elements. Wipe them down with a damp cloth, and don't forget to give those zippers a workout. Regular action keeps them battle-ready.

  1. Water Bottle Holder Hygiene

For those with a backpack with a water bottle holder, it deserves some extra love. If it's removable, great – give it a wash separately. If not, a damp cloth should do the trick. Just ensure it's dry before rehousing your hydration buddy

The Day Owl Pro Backpack water bottle sleeve is made of spill resistant neoprene.  It can also fit a wet umbrella or even your smelly gym clothes.  Just turn it inside out and wipe it down to keep it clean.

 General Care Tips for All Backpacks

  1. Storage Matters

When your backpack takes a breather, store it in a cool, dry place. Keep it away from direct sunlight – UV rays are like the kryptonite of backpack materials.Most backpacks make their way to the bottoms of closets, we recommend storing them like your clothes.

  1. Avoid Overloading

Sure, your backpack can carry a ton, but let's not test its limits if we don't need to. Overloading can strain seams and zippers. If you're hauling the kitchen sink, consider a bag that has some more structure for heavy loads.

  1. Love Your Straps

Straps are the backbone of your backpack. Check them regularly for wear and tear. If they're adjustable, give them a tweak to even out the load.

 Beyond the Basics: Extra TLC for Your Beloved Bag

  1. Periodic Deep Clean

Just like a spa day for your backpack, give it a deep clean periodically. Empty all compartments, vacuum the interior, and wipe down every surface. It's like sending your bag on a rejuvenating retreat.

  1. Protective Sprays for Special Fabrics

If your backpack has unique fabric or patterns, consider using a protective spray. This adds an invisible shield, safeguarding against stains and spills. Your backpack will thank you for the extra layer of defense. Candidly, with Day Owl bags waxed canvas, we haven't found much need for this, but if you do it, here's a list of sprays to try.

  1. Pamper Your Pockets

The pockets and compartments of your backpack work tirelessly. Treat them to some love by emptying them regularly and shaking out any crumbs or debris. It's the little things that keep your bag in tip-top shape.

 Personalizing Your Pack: A Journey of a Thousand Patches

Now, let's talk about personalization. Your backpack is a canvas, and you're the artist. Consider adorning it with patches or pins,  that tell your story. Not only does it add character, but it also helps you spot your bag in a sea of look-alikes. Just be mindful of your backpack's cleaning instructions – some embellishments may not fare well in a machine wash. Incidentally, we offer both patches and the ability tom personalize your Day Owl's luggage strap. We love Outpatch, which makes their patches out of recycled thread and doesn't require stitching for a good seal to our bags (they use a heat-activated patch that works great and attaches with a hair dryer)

an image of a yellow patch with red outline shaped like two fingers giving the peace sign. The patch background is a photo of 10 arms in a circle at dusk shot from below all giving the peace sign.

Outpatch makes their patches out of recycled yarn, and is our favorite patch company (photo courtesy of Outpatch)

The Science of Backpack Organization: Navigating the Inner Sanctum

  1. Tech-Savvy Compartments

If you're a tech aficionado, ensure your backpack has dedicated compartments for your gadgets. The Day Owl Pro, for instance, comes with a external laptop compartment that cradles your device securely. Organize cables and chargers in separate pockets to avoid the dreaded tangled mess. 

  1. Utilize the Pouch

The Day Owl has a very handy (and frankly adorable) Pouch – a game-changer in keeping your essentials organized. Designate it for items like chargers, earphones, and your trusty power bank. It's the perfect solution for tech chaos within your bag.

a picture of the the sustainable Day Owl laptop backpack in olive green. A woman is putting a maple brown pouch into the bag while holding the backpack from the top handles

The Pouch keeps cords cozy.

  1. Clothing Cubes for Travel Bliss

For frequent travelers, invest in clothing cubes. They will change your life. These nifty organizers keep your clothes neatly packed and prevent them from mingling with your gadgets. It's like having a dresser inside your backpack. I have these ones and love them

 Beyond the Daily Grind: Backpack Preservation 101

  1. Rain Covers for Downpour Defense

If you live in a region with unpredictable weather, consider a rain cover for your backpack. This additional layer of protection ensures that your bag and its contents stay dry even in torrential downpours. Here's the thing, we can't find a single sustainable rain cover out there, so if you find one, please reach out to us. Otherwise...maybe we'll make one ourselves!

  1. Patch Up with DIY Repairs

Minor wear and tear are inevitable, but don't let it spell the end for your backpack. Invest in a simple sewing kit and patch up small holes or loose threads. It's a DIY adventure that adds character and prolongs the life of your bag.

  1. Rotate Your Backpacks

If you're a backpack enthusiast with a collection, rotate them regularly. Giving each bag a break helps maintain their shape and prevents excessive wear on a single favorite. It's like a vacation for your bags!

 Sustainability in Backpack Care: A Green Approach

As we embark on a journey of caring for our backpacks, let's embrace sustainability. Consider eco-friendly cleaning products and repair options. Extend the life of your bag, and when it's time to bid farewell, explore recycling or upcycling options.

 Conclusion: Happy Backpack, Happy Explorer

Mastering the art of caring or your backpack is an investment in both style and functionality. Whether you're rocking a Day Owl or another trusted companion, these extended tips should keep your beloved bag looking fresh for the next adventure. Show your backpack some love – it's been carrying the weight of your world, and with a little TLC, it's ready for countless more journeys. Happy exploring, backpack enthusiasts!

Ian Rosenberger