How to Clean and Disinfect Your Diaper Bag Like a Boss (Step-by-Step)
Published July 23, 2017
Have you ever been out and about and your baby managed to spit up all over your diaper bag? Do you always seem to set it in something sticky or have a sippy cup magically open inside and get apple juice everywhere?
I just took a look at my diaper bag the other day, and there was a banana stain on the front of it, spit up on the bottom, and an old cheerio in the side pocket. I thought to myself, “#MomLife”.
It can be expensive to get your bag cleaned by a professional, and you don’t want to go out and buy another one, especially if you invested in one of the hot new stylish diaper bags, like the JuJuBe and Vera Bradley ones. So how can you clean your diaper bag at home without ruining it?
With just a little bit of research and elbow grease, you will be able to get all of the stains and bacteria out of your diaper bag without damaging it. In this article, we will discuss how to safely clean and remove stains from leather and synthetic material diaper bags.
How to Prevent Your Diaper Bag from Getting Dirty
If you don’t have a curious toddler running around, you could keep an instant stain remover stick (like the Tide To Go) on hand in your bag to address potential stains as soon as they arise. It’s also a good idea to keep your bag out of direct sunlight whenever possible to avoid color fading.
If you have a leather diaper bag, it’s a good idea to condition at least every six months following a cleaning. This will help replenish the leather’s natural oils and keep it looking healthy and shiny.
Another trick I like is using baking soda to help keep the smell down in your diaper bag. Unlike chemical deodorizing sprays which only temporarily cover up bad odors, baking soda neutralizes the odor for good (source). Plus, it’s cheaper than all of those scentsy sprays.
Fill a Ziploc bag with some baking soda and leave it in your diaper bag for at least 24 hours. This works especially well if you use cloth diapers since you’re carrying around dirty diapers in your bag most the time.
Related Reading: What Are The Best Diaper Pails?
While preventative maintenance will help keep your bag looking and smelling better longer, we all know that problems will still arise, especially with little ones around. But the earlier you address potential problems, the better.
You will have better luck keeping your diaper bag in tip-top condition if you can address the dirt and stains as soon as they arise.
Which Cleaning Products are Safe for My Diaper Bag?
The cleaning routine and products you use to clean your diaper bag will depend on the type of material that it’s made out of.
Check the tag to see the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning your bag, and always check to see if your diaper bag is machine washable before throwing it in the washer. You may need to skip the machine and hand wash your bag in the sink or tub or even just spot clean it.
It’s also a good idea to test any stain remover/detergent on a small area of your bag before applying to the entire surface.
If you want to be extra safe, you can always contact customer support of the manufacturer of your diaper bag to see what they recommend for cleaning your bag. Some manufacturers may have specific product recommendations for you or tell you only to use water.
If your diaper bag is safe to machine wash, but you have an internal rotator in your washer, I would be sure to invest in some mesh laundry bags when washing. This will help prevent any damage to your bag and will also help the laundry detergent penetrate better.
You’re going to want to be extra cautious if your bag is made with real leather. You may find some leather cleaning tutorials telling you to use alcohol and/or acetone to remove stains. This is bad advice, as alcohol and acetone can strip the color off your bag and can ruin the finish.
Never use rubbing alcohol, disinfectant wipes, hair spray, window cleaner, or fingernail polish remover on your leather bag, as it will most likely cause more harm than good (source).
How to Clean a Synthetic Diaper Bag
Luckily, a lot of the common tote and backpack style diaper bags, like JuJuBe and Eddie Bauer, are made with synthetic material that is machine washable. Here are steps to take to deep clean your synthetic material diaper bag.
- Remove everything from your diaper bag. Throw away all trash and store away anything unneeded that managed to somehow land in your bag.
- Flip it upside down and inside out (if possible) over the garbage can and shake it a few times to remove any crumbs or debris.
- Vacuum all of the leftover debris or any animal hair that may be on the inside and outside of your bag.
- Set your bag on a towel or any clean surface. If you were able to flip your bag inside out, go ahead and keep it that way.
- Remove any removable straps and set aside.
- Pretreat all of the stains on the interior and exterior on the first side of your bag with a stain remover of choice. Blue Coral Upholstery Cleaner works wonderfully for cleaning any bag made with synthetic material, such as nylon. Be sure to avoid with leather, suede, and silk. You could also use other common stain removers, such as Shout, OxiClean, or Buncha Farmers Stain Stick.
- Let sit for at least 5 minutes.
- Using a circular motion, scrub all of the pretreated areas with an old toothbrush.
- Pat dry with a clean towel.
- Flip your bag over and repeat steps 6-9.
- If your straps are made with the same material as the bag (i.e., not leather or suede), go ahead and repeat steps 6-9 on the straps.
- Machine or hand wash your bag if able to. Be sure that all of the zippers and flaps are open before washing, and wash inside out if possible. I would use the gentle/handwash cycle on your machine with cold water and an extra rinse to be sure to get all of the suds out. If you have an interior rotator in your machine, be sure to use a mesh laundry bag to avoid damaging your bag.
- Hang to dry. Again, be sure that all zippers and pockets are open when drying. Dry in a well-ventilated area, but out of direct sunlight to avoid color fading.
How to Clean a Leather Diaper Bag
Leather bags require a little bit more attention than bags made with synthetic material. Follow these steps if you have a diaper bag made out of leather.
- Remove everything from your bag.
- Dump your bag over a trash can and shake it a few times to remove any crumbs or debris.
- Vacuum the inside of your bag to remove anything you may have missed or if any animal hair has managed to collect in your bag.
- Take a clean cloth and very lightly dampen it with just water.
- Lightly rub the exterior of your bag with your damp cloth.
- Next, spray a clean, dry cloth with a reputable, pH friendly, leather cleaner and start wiping the exterior of your bag in a circular motion. This will pull out all of the dirt and bacteria without damaging the leather.
- Repeat steps 4-6 for the interior of your bag.
- Let sit and dry for at least an hour.
- Take another clean cloth, squirt some leather conditioner on it and rub it into the interior and exterior of your bag in a circular motion. This will help replenish all of the good, natural oils that were pulled out from the cleaner and will prolong the life of your bag. It will also contribute to diminish all the scuffs on your bag.
- Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, buff your bag using a clean cloth to remove all of the extra oils on the surface.
Let’s Get Your Diaper Bag Looking Good as New
In summary, the way you clean and disinfect your diaper bag will depend on the material it is made out of. A lot of diaper bags made with synthetic materials are machine or hand washable. If you invested in a leather diaper bag, you will need to invest in reputable, pH friendly leather cleaning products to go with it.
Don’t give up on your diaper bag. With just a little bit of work, you can get your diaper bag looking good as new without damaging it or forking out the money to have it professionally cleaned.
Have you had success cleaning your diaper bag? Tell us what worked for you in the comments, and share this post with other moms that are dealing with dirty diaper bags.