How to Dry a Wet Backpack Quickly and Easily 

 June 25, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

Have you ever had to make a plan in a hurry when your backpack got too close to a puddle of water? Of course you have. We have all tried to dry a soaked backpack before it ruins the items inside. But fear not! You have now come across the perfect blog post to dry your precious backpack quickly and easily. 

You can use an absorbent cloth or paper towels to soak up the excess liquid and then hang the bag in a warm, well-ventilated place. Stuff the bag with newspaper or other absorbent material while it dries, and turn it over occasionally to speed up the drying process.

We’ll walk you through the simple steps to dry your backpack quickly so you never have to experience the panic of a wet backpack again.

Dry Your Backpack the Right Way

Drying a wet backpack is an important step to ensure its long-term health and durability. There are several methods to dry a wet backpack, but it is important to choose the most effective method for best results. Although some advise simply throwing the backpack in the dryer, this could damage the materials and affect the structure of the backpack. Heat is a major factor and should be handled with care.

According to experts, the most effective way to dry a wet backpack is to circulate the air. To do this, you need to hang your backpack in a place where it is exposed to both room temperature air and circulating air. You do not want direct sunlight to come into contact with your backpack as too much heat can damage delicate materials such as fabrics. You should also turn the backpack upside down so that the maximum amount of air can reach every part of the backpack. This way, the backpack will dry evenly and thoroughly within 24 hours or less, depending on how wet it is.

These steps will not only help preserve the material but also ensure that mold doesn’t form on the bag. Also, when drying your backpacks, you can use a clean towel or cloth to absorb excess moisture if necessary.

Air drying your backpack will give you optimal results. For even better results and to prevent sun damage, avoid exposing your backpack to direct sunlight. Therefore, it is important that in the next section, we discuss how sunlight can damage a wet backpack and what measures you should take to avoid possible damages caused by exposure to sunlight.

Key Takeaway

To properly dry a wet backpack, it is recommended to use air circulation. To do this, hang the backpack in a place with room temperature air and circulating air, turn it upside down, and avoid direct sunlight. If you also use a clean towel or cloth to soak up excess moisture, you can prevent mold and mildew from forming on the backpack. These measures will help protect the backpack so that it lasts for a long time.

Avoid the Sunlight

The sun can seem like a helpful ally in wet weather, but that isn't always the case. Avoid drying your backpack in the sun at all costs. Despite its warm rays, sunlight can do significant damage to the fabric and straps of a backpack. The heat of the sun can also leave permanent stains or fading on the material, affecting its aesthetic appeal.

This is not to say, however, that the sun cannot also be useful. Often, direct sunlight can help eliminate unhealthy bacteria or odors that have formed inside the bag due to moisture build-up. However, this can be achieved by placing the bag in a dry place or in front of an open window. This way, you can air out the bag without actually exposing it to direct sunlight.

Overall, it’s best not to dry your backpack in direct sunlight as much as possible. Drying your backpack will of course take longer, but it is worth it to avoid possible staining and wear to the fabric from too much sunlight.

Now that we have discussed how to protect your backpack from direct sunlight, let's turn to one of the easiest ways to dry a wet backpack quickly: using a towel.

Using a Towel to Dry Your Backpack

Using a towel to dry your backpack is another widely used option that can greatly speed up the drying process. The discussion using towels stems from the fact that the color of the material can fade over time if a wet, dark colored backpack is exposed to too much direct sunlight. This is an understandable concern and should definitely be considered before placing a wet backpack in direct sunlight.

However, drying a backpack with a towel is relatively quick (compared to air drying) as long as you take care to change and replace the towel regularly. One way to do this effectively is to take some damp paper towels and spread them generously inside your backpack, lining the outside material with extra towels. This will provide a larger surface area for water absorption and thus more efficient drying. In addition, you can always use light-colored towels or washcloths if you are worried that dark colors might mix with the material of your backpack.

Ultimately, it depends on what works best for you, but in general, using a towel to dry your backpack can be a good compromise between time and material conservation if you do it right. From here, we can move on to other methods of drying our backpacks, such as wetting one side of your towel with water before placing it on the backpack itself.

Dampen the Towel with Water

Using a towel is an effective way to dry a wet backpack. However, dampening the towel with water should be done with caution. On the one hand, it is argued that wetting the towel increases absorbency and speeds up the drying process of your backpack. Dampening the towel can help create friction on the fabric surface, which in turn helps remove more water from the fabric of your backpack than if you were to use just the dry towel alone. In addition, using a dampened towel can limit the staining that can occur when trying to dry wet fabric surfaces with a dry towel.

On the other hand, dampening the towel increases the risk of mold growth on delicate or non-waterproof fabrics and can potentially exacerbate existing discoloration or damage. Note that not all types of backpacks are suitable for moistened towels and that it is best to carry out a test on an inconspicuous area before using this method! Also, make sure that you only use lukewarm water as hot water can cause shrinkage and/or fading of the color on certain fabrics.

Undoubtedly, some caution is required when using any type of liquid to safely and effectively rid your backpack of its wetness. As an alternative to a damp towel, you can also use the power of the sun’s warm rays to dry your backpack quickly and easily. More information on drying your backpack within sunny environments shall be discussed further in the upcoming section.

Drying Your Backpack in a Sunny Environment

After wetting the towel, dry your backpack in a sunny area. By placing your backpack in direct sunlight, you can dry your wet gear naturally. Sunlight can act as a dehumidifier, both removing moisture from your backpack and speeding up evaporation so that the contents of your backpack dry faster.

However, the use of sunlight should be carefully weighed against the potential dangers to durability that come with exposing a backpack to too much intense heat. Certain materials, such as nylon, can be weakened and degraded by UV rays, and all-day sun exposure can cause irreversible damage. Therefore, if you choose to use this drying method, move your backpack into the shade periodically throughout the day.

If you dry your backpack outdoors in a sunny place, it is important to turn it frequently during the day. By rotating the backpack, you ensure that all parts are evenly exposed to sunlight as this prevents certain parts of the backpack from becoming damp and retaining moisture. Also, make sure you know what materials have been used for the individual parts of your backpack and whether they can withstand the strong sunlight before you expose them to direct sunlight for a long time.

Drying your backpack outdoors in direct sunlight is a great way to speed up the drying process while preserving the structural integrity of your gear. If you take extra precautions to avoid exposing certain parts of your backpack to too much sun, this technique is an effective, efficient, and natural solution to properly dry wet backpacks.

Once it appears that all noticeable traces of moisture have evaporated from both the inside and outside of your backpack, consider setting up a drier location at home, such as a radiator or ventilation shaft, for further drying.

Improvising Drying Areas at Home

While it’s nice to dry your backpack in the sunlight, sometimes you don't have access to the outdoors due to weather or other reasons. In such cases, it's best to improvise a drying area at home. To do this, find a suitable place like your balcony, laundry room, patio, or garage. You can then use a clothesline, a tailor’s rack, or a bench with towels draped over it. If the backpack is light even if it’s wet, you can also hang it from door knobs or the ends of chair backs and table edges.

Note that if you want to dry your backpack indoors, make sure that the temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) or higher so that the water evaporates quickly. The reason for this is that the moisture that remains inside the backpack can damage the fabric, the material, and the electronics you have placed inside, such as a laptop.

Now that you've dried your backpack either indoors or outdoors, we move on to the next step, which is to create an airy bedspread in case the backpack has significant moist areas.

Place Your Backpack on an Airy Bedspread

When it comes to creating a dry environment for your wet backpack, an airy bedspread could be the ideal solution. By laying your backpack flat and allowing some air to pass through, you will speed up the drying process while minimizing damage to the wet backpack—such as mildew caused by overly humid conditions when packed in plastic bags.

For those who care about the aesthetics of their backpack, an airy bedspread, with its inviting colors and comfortable material, can provide a pleasant visual change. Proponents claim that there should be no consequences to using the blanket for drying, provided it is clean—apart from having to wait hours for everything to dry to an acceptable level.

Others may object that this solution is not always feasible—especially if you don’t have any spare bedspreads or comforters around. If your backpack gets too wet or is made of delicate materials that can’t tolerate too much sun exposure, you may have to rely on a breezy bedspread that is not accessible in a satisfactory time frame.

Nevertheless, a properly designed airy bedspread should still provide sufficient air circulation and warmth for most materials. For even better effect, periodically turn the bag over and reposition it so that all sides are treated evenly and your backpack can dry completely in the shortest possible time.

After drying, you can attach an airtight wet bag to prevent mold growth and transport your dried backpack with minimal effort.

Set Up an Airtight Wet Bag

Once you have placed your backpack on an airy bedspread, the next step is to set up an airtight wet bag. Setting up an airtight wet bag can be a great way to dry a wet backpack quickly and easily as the airtight bag helps trap moisture inside and prevent drafts from getting in. This creates the ideal environment to dry your backpack more efficiently.

There are some who argue about whether it is necessary to set up an airtight wet bag to dry your backpack. On the one hand, using an airtight bag is certainly not mandatory, but on the other hand, using such a bag can greatly speed up the drying process of your backpack. Not to mention that using an airtight bag when drying your backpack will also help prevent musty smells due to bacterial and mold growth. However, without an airtight bag, it can be difficult or almost impossible in a short time to dry it as the backpack is already surrounded by moisture.

An airtight wet bag is recommended for drying a wet backpack due to its efficiency. It traps humidity and prevents rapid moisture evaporation, safeguarding materials like leather straps and plastic buckles from cracking or peeling. Additionally, using a rubberized dry sack offers further protection against water damage. Overall, an airtight wet bag helps dry the pack quickly and easily, making it a favorable option..

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there anything I should avoid when trying to dry my backpack?

Yes, there are definitely things you should avoid when drying your backpack. First, do not put it in the washing machine or dryer as this can damage or shrink the fabric. Also, avoid direct sunlight to hit your backpack as this can cause fading and discoloration over time. Lastly, be careful not to use too much heat so as not to damage delicate materials or straps.

What materials can I use to assist the drying process?

The most effective materials to use for drying a wet backpack are cotton towels, old T-shirts, and paper towels. Cotton towels are highly absorbent and effectively pull moisture out of the backpack. Old T-shirts can also be used to dry the backpack as they are soft and more absorbent than other materials.

Paper towels are great for getting into tight corners that cannot be reached with a towel or T-shirt. They also help prevent stains on surfaces if left to air dry. To speed up the process, you can point a fan directly at the drying items to increase evaporation, or you can place the backpack in direct sunlight.You can also consider turning on your electric heater (if you have one) near the backpack to disperse the moisture more quickly.

Are there any special techniques to use when drying a wet backpack?

Yes, there are special techniques you can use to dry a wet backpack quickly and easily.

  1. Carefully remove heavy objects that are in the backpack and open it up completely so that the air can circulate inside. This will allow the moisture to evaporate more quickly.
  2. Place absorbent material such as newspaper or paper towels in the backpack and around the opening. This will help absorb more water from the inner lining of the bag.
  3. Hang the backpack in a well-ventilated area—preferably out of direct sunlight—to allow maximum air circulation. This will speed up the drying process.
  4. Use a low or medium speed fan, if possible, to blow air into the backpack or place it near a heater to remove moisture more quickly.

Check on the backpack regularly and rearrange the absorbent materials as needed to ensure that all parts of the backpack are evenly and thoroughly dry.

About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

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