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Top 3 Tips for Cleaning Kids’ Backpacks & Lunch Boxes

Top 3 Tips for Cleaning Kids’ Backpacks & Lunch Boxes

Now that your kids are back in school, the mess hasn't gone away. But it has moved. Your kids may have spent the summer leaving toys and food all over their rooms and the living room, but now they use their lunch boxes and backpacks to carry everything back and forth. Unfortunately, that means they get messy. So how do you clean them?

If your kids' backpacks and lunch boxes are machine-washable, follow the instructions on the tag for cleaning. Be sure to remove any school supplies or leftover foods and pre-treat stains before you put them in the washing machine. However, if your kids' backpacks and lunch boxes are not machine washable, here are a few tips to help you get them clean before your kids get them messy again at school.

Top Tips for Cleaning Kids' Backpacks

Backpacks come in a wide range of materials, from the typical cloth Jansport-style backpacks to structured vinyl. Some backpacks even have wheels and a handle for easy transportation. The type of backpack your child has will help determine how you clean it.

  • Use warm water and gentle soap. Most backpacks, regardless of the material they're made of, can be hand-washed with warm water and gentle soap. Use a scrub brush to work on stains and spots. However, if you're worried about the scrub brush damaging the backpack, you can use a sponge instead.
  • Don't put the backpack in the dryer. It's better to air-dry the backpack. Dryers use heat to dry fabrics, which can be damaging. Air-drying the backpack will help keep the backpack in good shape longer.
  • Don't be afraid to get a little help cleaning! If you've cleaned your kids' lunch boxes and backpacks but can't seem to get out a stubborn stain, a professional dry cleaning service can help. Dry cleaning services have specialized products and skills that can help get your kids' backpacks and lunch boxes as clean as the first day of school.

Top Tips for Cleaning Kids' Lunch Boxes

Lunch boxes are a little different. Most soft-sided lunch boxes are insulated, which includes a vinyl interior. If they can't go in the washing machine, you will have to wash them by hand. Here are the top tips for cleaning your kids' lunch boxes.

  • Remember that your kids' lunch boxes are for food. When you clean them, think about the way you would clean your kids' plates and silverware. You have to be sure that any bacteria that might be lingering in the creases of the lunch box is dealt with completely so it doesn't spread.
  • Use dish detergent and warm water. Since you have to think of your kids' lunch box as part of the kitchen utensils, you have to clean it the same way. Dish detergent is not only gentle on your kids' lunch boxes, but will get all of the food residue and bacteria easily and effectively. Don't submerge your kids' lunch boxes in water unless you know it's okay. Some lunch boxes cannot be submerged in water to be cleaned. Check the tag before cleaning the lunch box. If it cannot be submerged, you can simply wipe it out with a sponge full of warm, soapy water.
  • Let the lunch box dry completely. If you send your kids' lunch boxes to school while they're still wet, the bacteria you tried to get rid of could grow. Use a towel to wipe them dry and leave them open overnight to finish drying.

A Few Extra Tips

  • Encourage your child to throw out lunch waste at school instead of bringing it home. This will help keep trash, including uneaten food and empty sandwich bags, from collecting in the lunch box.
  • Have your child go through their backpack at least once a week. Friday is a good day to do this. Have them take out any papers, supplies, or anything else that has collected in the backpack throughout the week.
  • Make backpack and lunch box cleaning part of your regular cleaning routine. This can help keep the mess from getting too bad and help you keep it under control.

Kids may be messy, but with these tips you can keep their backpacks and lunch boxes clean, in good condition, and valuable tools for the whole school year.

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