How To Clean Your Diaper Bag

Mom life is stressful enough without worrying about spit ups and sticky stains on your diaper bag. Here are some cleaning tips.

Has your baby ever spit up all over your diaper bag while you were out and about? Do you always seem to set it in something sticky? Or do sippy cups often open magically inside and get apple juice everywhere?

I looked at my diaper bag the other day, and there was a banana stain on the front, 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 buy another one, especially if you’ve bought 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 a bit of research and effort, you can get all of the stains and bacteria out of your diaper bag without damaging it. Let’s now discuss step by step, the process of cleaning and removing stains from leather and synthetic material diaper bags safely.

Keeping Your Diaper Bag Clean

If you don’t have a curious toddler running around, keep an instant stain remover stick (like the Tide To Go) in your bag to address stains as soon as they arise. Also, avoid placing your bag in direct sunlight as much as possible to avoid color fading.

Take Note

If you have a leather diaper bag, it’s a good idea to condition at least every six months following a cleaning. This replenishes the leather’s natural oils and keeps it looking healthy and shiny.

Another trick I like is using baking soda to reduce bad smells in your diaper bag. Unlike chemical deodorizing sprays which only temporarily cover up bad odors, baking soda neutralizes the odor for good (1). Plus, it’s cheaper than scented 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.

More On This Topic
Baby wearing a dirty diaperThe Best Diaper Pails for Storing Your Baby’s Surprises

Although it doesn’t prevent your bag from ever getting dirty, you will have better luck keeping your diaper bag in tip-top condition if you address the dirt and stains as soon as they happen.

Read This Next
Woman carrying a diaper bagWhat Are the Best Diaper Bags for Twins?

Which Cleaning Products Are Safe?

Your diaper bag cleaning routine and products will depend on its material.


See the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning your bag, and always confirm your diaper bag is machine washable before throwing it in the washer. Otherwise, you may need to skip the machine and hand wash in the sink or tub or even just spot clean it.

Remember to first test any stain remover/detergent on a small area of your bag before applying to the entire surface. To be extra safe, contact customer support or check the website of the bag manufacturer to see what cleaning products they recommend. Some manufacturers may have specific recommendations or suggest only using water.

Take Note

If your diaper bag is safe to machine wash, but you have an internal rotator in your washer, invest in some mesh laundry bags. These prevent damage to your bag and also help the laundry detergent penetrate better.

Be extra cautious if your bag is made with real leather. You may find some leather cleaning tutorials telling you to use alcohol or acetone to remove stains. This is terrible advice, as alcohol and acetone can strip the color off your bag and ruin the finish.

Never use rubbing alcohol, disinfectant wipes, hair spray, window cleaner, or fingernail polish remover on your leather bag, as they are likely to do more harm than good (2).

Cleaning Synthetic Diaper Bags

Luckily, a lot of the common tote and backpack style diaper bags, like JuJuBe and Eddie Bauer, are made with machine-washable synthetic material. Here’s how to deep clean your synthetic material diaper bag:

  1. Remove everything in it. Discard trash and put away unnecessary items. Flip it upside down and inside out (if possible) over the garbage can and shake a few times to remove any crumbs or debris.
  2. Vacuum all leftover debris or any animal hair on the inside and outside of your bag.
  3. Set it on a towel or any clean surface. If you flipped your bag inside out, keep it that way.
  4. Remove and set aside any detachable straps.
  5. Pretreat all interior and exterior stains on the first side of your bag with a stain remover of choice. Blue Coral Upholstery Cleaner works wonderfully for cleaning synthetic material, such as nylon. But, avoid using this with leather, suede, and silk. Other common useful stain removers include Shout, OxiClean, or Buncha Farmers Stain Stick.
  6. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.
  7. Using a circular motion, scrub pretreated areas with an old toothbrush.
  8. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  9. Flip your bag over and repeat steps 6-9.
  10. If your straps are the same material as the bag (i.e., not leather or suede), repeat steps 6-9 on the straps.
  11. Then, machine or hand wash your bag if possible. Open zippers and flaps before washing, and wash inside out if you can. I recommend using the gentle/hand wash cycle on your machine with cold water and an extra rinse to get all the suds out. If you have an interior rotator in your machine, remember to use a mesh laundry bag to avoid damaging your bag.
  12. Hang to dry. Again, leave all zippers and pockets open when drying and dry in a well-ventilated area, but out of direct sunlight to avoid color fading.

Cleaning 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.

  1. Empty your bag. Dump it over a trash can and shake a few times to remove any crumbs or debris.
  2. Vacuum the inside of your bag to remove anything you may have missed or any collected animal hair.
  3. Lightly dampen a clean cloth with just water and rub the exterior of your bag with the damp cloth.
  4. 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 pulls dirt and bacteria out without damaging the leather.
  5. Repeat steps 4-6 for the interior of your bag.
  6. Let sit and dry for at least an hour.
  7. 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 replenishes the good, natural oils the cleaner pulled out, and prolongs the life of your bag. It also reduces the scuffs on your bag.
  8. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  9. After 15 minutes, buff your bag using a clean cloth to remove all of the extra oils on the surface.
You Might Also Like
Mom boarding a train while wearing her baby in a carrierBest Baby Travel Bags of 2020

Good as New

In summary, your cleaning and disinfecting methods depend on the material of your diaper bag. Many are made with synthetic materials that are machine or hand washable. If you invested in a leather diaper bag, use reputable, pH friendly leather cleaning products.

Don’t give up on your diaper bag. With just a little work, you can get it 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 dealing with dirty diaper bags.

Headshot of Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Reviewed by

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN is an oncology nurse navigator and freelance medical writer. Mary has 4 years of experience as an officer in the Navy Nurse Corps. including emergency/trauma, post-anesthesia, and deployment medicine.
How to Pack the Perfect Diaper Bag (Tips & Tricks)How to Pack Your Diaper Bag Like a Pro (4 Simple Tips & Tricks)
The 13 Best Diaper Bags for Moms With StyleBest Diaper Bags of 2020
Best Backpack Diaper Bags of 202013 Best Backpack Diaper Bags (2020 Reviews)
Best Baby Travel Bags of 20207 Best Travel Diaper Bags (2020 Reviews)
What Are the Best Diaper Bags for Twins?Best Diaper Bags for Twins 2020