How To De-Stink Your Backpack

osprey mountain bike pack

During most of my summer adventures, I wore some form of pack—whether it be a hydration pack for mountain biking, a large backpack during multi-day hikes, or smaller backpacks for climbing. Shoulder straps and even back panels are perfectly positioned to soak up as much of your sweat as possible, so it’s no wonder they tend to get stinky pretty quickly. Leave them wet in the back of your car for a couple of days and you can add mold and mildew to the mix. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep you from offending all your friends (and even yourself) next time you grab your pack to head outside.

1. Lysol:Used in bowling alleys and climbing gyms the world over, Lysol serves as a great disinfectant. Once a week or as needed, give your pack straps a quick spray down and let air dry. This will kill any lingering odors and protect against the buildup of odor-causing bacteria. After particularly wet and muddy rides, I will also give my mountain bike shoes a quick spray down in order to prevent mold and mildew from forming.

2. Vinegar:For those looking for a more natural remedy, you can spray vinegar on your backpack straps. Afterwards, you will want to rinse the straps in warm soapy water to get rid of the vinegar smell. Or maybe you won’t if you don’t mind smelling like a pickle.

3. Nature’s Miracle:Normally used to clean up pet mess around your home, the enzymes in this spray are great at breaking down odor-causing bacteria.

4. Washing Machine: If it’s a small hydration pack or something similar, you can simply launder it in the washing machine on the gentle or hand wash cycle. If it’s a large pack, you can soak either the entire thing or just the straps in the bathtub using warm, soapy water. Rinse and air dry thoroughly when done. You could add some vinegar to the wash cycle to help break down that odor-causing bacteria. Be sure to check for any launder instructions that might be provided.

5. Kitty Litter:Some costume designers swear by removing body odor and musty smells using kitty litter. Grab a large plastic container, throw in the offending backpack(s), fill with kitty litter, and cover. Leave for a week or so and your backpack should come out smelling like new.

6. Vodka (yes, vodka!): This distilled beverage has long been used in the professional cleaning business to get rid of sweat odor without having to launder a garment. You may not want to grab for the Chopin to complete this job—any cheap vodka will do. Spray the offending fabric on both sides until it is completely saturated then let it air dry.

Do you have any other tips or tricks for de-stinking your gear?

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