How to Clean a Duffel Bag: A Comprehensive Guide

A duffel bag is a versatile and convenient travel companion that accompanies us on countless adventures. From weekend getaways to gym sessions, our trusty duffel bags endure a lot and inevitably accumulate dirt, stains, and unpleasant odors. 

Regular cleaning not only keeps your duffel bag looking fresh but also helps prolong its lifespan. This guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of how to clean cleaning a duffel bag, ensuring it stays in optimal condition for all your future travels.

Preparing for the Cleaning Process

Before I dive into the process of how to clean a duffel bag, it’s important to take a few preparatory steps to ensure a thorough and efficient cleaning session. Begin by emptying the contents of your duffel bag and checking all the pockets and compartments for any loose items. 

This will prevent anything from getting damaged or lost during the cleaning process. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the bag’s care instructions or the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure you use suitable cleaning methods and materials.

Spot Cleaning Stains

Stains are inevitable when using a duffel bag but don’t have to be permanent. Spot-cleaning stains promptly can help prevent them from setting in. Identify the type of stain you’re dealing with, such as grease, ink, or dirt, and choose an appropriate stain removal method accordingly. For example, a mixture of mild dish soap and warm water can effectively tackle most stains. Gently dab the stained area with the solution using a clean cloth or sponge, being careful not to scrub too vigorously to avoid damaging the bag’s material.

Cleaning the Exterior

To clean the exterior of your duffel bag, begin by removing any loose dirt or debris by shaking it out or using a soft brush. Depending on the bag’s material, you can use different cleaning methods. 

A gentle machine wash or hand wash with a mild detergent can be effective for fabric duffel bags. Ensure all zippers and closures are fastened securely before placing it in the washing machine or immersing it in water. 

Use a soft cloth or sponge and a specialized cleaner suitable for the material for leather or vinyl duffel bags. Wipe the surface gently, paying extra attention to any stains or spots.

Cleaning the Interior

The interior of your duffel bag is just as important as the exterior. Start by vacuuming or shaking out any loose debris. If your bag has a removable lining or compartments, detach them if possible for a more thorough cleaning. Fabric interiors can be hand-washed or machine-washed, following the care instructions. 

Wipe the interior with a damp cloth or use mild detergent if necessary for duffel bags with a waterproof or water-resistant lining. Once cleaned, ensure the interior is completely dry before reassembling and using the bag.


how to clean a duffel bag

Over time, duffel bags can develop unpleasant odors due to accumulated sweat, moisture, or other factors. To combat this, deodorizing your bag is essential. Start by sprinkling baking soda liberally on the interior and exterior surfaces of the bag, focusing on areas that are prone to odor. 

Allow the baking soda to sit for a few hours or overnight, absorbing the odors. Once the time has elapsed, vacuum or brush off the baking soda. For a fresh scent, you can also place a fabric softener sheet or a small sachet of dried lavender or cedar chips inside the bag.

ALSO READ: What Are the Best Duffel Bags for Gym Use?


Keeping your duffel bag clean is essential for maintaining its appearance and functionality. Following the steps outlined in this guide on how to clean a duffel bag will ensure it remains in top condition for all future adventures. 

Remember to always refer to the bag’s care instructions and tailor your cleaning methods to the bag’s material. With proper care and regular cleaning, your duffel bag will continue serving you faithfully for years.