Cleaning and maintaining your camera equipment is obvious, but what about the bag that carries it all? Since camera bags follow us everywhere our photography takes us and get quite dirty, it’s not surprising that you can and should actually wash your camera bag.

Yes, it is possible to wash a camera bag. However, it is recommended to wash it by hand. The interior is usually cleaned using a handheld vacuum while the exterior can be cleaned with a towel and gentle detergent or a dry brush.

Several different techniques and tips can help you keep your camera bag looking as good as new. There are methods and options for all types of camera bags as well as different aesthetics. Some people like the aged look of their camera bag, so thankfully there are ways to clean it while preserving its charm. I’ll cover all of that and more below.

Can You Wash a Camera Bag?

To put it simply, yes, you can wash a camera bag–however, don’t just throw it in the washer. Experts recommend washing camera bags by hand to avoid having excess water inside the case. Although it is possible to wash it using a machine, it should hang out to dry for several hours to ensure it is entirely dry.

When washing by hand there are several things to keep in mind:

  • You should use a gentle detergent to not damage the color of the bag.
  • With a washcloth, gently wipe off the exterior of the bag.
  • Pay special attention to the stains, rubbing in a slow circular motion.

Do I Need to Hand Wash a Camera Bag?

Although you are not obligated to wash your camera bag by hand, it is gentler on the bag than a washing machine. Using a washing machine to wash a camera bag every time will damage the bag over time. To preserve the bag, stick to handwashing.

Camera Bag

Since it is done by hand, it’s easy to assume it’s a lot of mind-numbing scrubbing, but thankfully not. Handwashing a camera bag is much simpler than it sounds. With the right tools and technique, your camera bag will be clean in no time.

How to Hand Wash a Camera Bag

When it comes to handwashing your bag there are several different methods to choose from.

All you need to handwash your camera bag is the following:

  • Gentle Detergent (expert choice: Woolite)
  • Water
  • Small washcloth or sponge
  • Brush
  • Handheld Vacuum

Once you have acquired all the equipment you need, go ahead and grab your camera bag and let’s start cleaning.

First, you want to clean the interior, you can do so by using the vacuum cleaner to get all the dirt out of the corners.

Three Methods to Wash the Exterior of a Camera Bag

After the interior has been thoroughly washed, you can start cleaning the exterior. This part of the process can be done in several different ways. You can choose from one of the three following methods.

  • Normal Handwashing
  • Spot Cleaning
  • Dry Cleaning

The most common method, normal handwashing, needs all of the equipment mentioned above, minus the brush. With either a washcloth or a sponge, gently scrub the outside of the bag along with a gentle detergent. Once clean, wipe it off and set it out to dry.

Spot Cleaning requires the same tools as the normal method, but they are utilized differently. Instead of cleaning the whole exterior with water, you wipe off the camera bag first, with a dry cloth. After having wiping it off you will be able to see where the stains are and those are the spots you will clean off with the gentle cleanser, hence, its name.

The final cleaning method is a dry one. The dry cleaning method only needs a brush and possibly a washcloth. Using a hard bristled brush, brush off all the dirt and dust buildup off the camera bag. This method does not entirely clean the exterior but is preferred by many to keep the bag’s character.

It is up to choose which method to use to wash your bag–pick the one that is the most appropriate for the type of dirt or stain, and avoid getting the rest of the bag wet if you don’t need to!

Can I Put My Camera Bag in the Dryer?

Yes, you can. In fact, it is recommended that you put it in the dryer if you washed it in a washing machine. There should be no water left in the camera bag before it can be used again. When handwashing, water only gets on the exterior and it will easily air dry.

Whereas, if it was washed in a machine, the entire bag was soaked in water, the best and fastest way to dry it is a dryer. To avoid discoloration, use a very gentle detergent in the washer and low settings on the dryer.

If you don’t, the bag will look faded and old after a couple of washes.

Can You Wash a Waterproof Camera Bag?

With the word waterproof in the name, it would stand to reason that it can’t be washed– but that’s actually not the case for most waterproof bags.

Depending on the brand, some waterproof camera bags can even be washed in a washing machine. For example, Canon accessories can be washed even though they are waterproof.

The only way to know whether you need to hand wash or machine wash your waterproof camera bag is to check what the manufacturer says.

Can You Clean a Camera Bag Without Washing it?

As previously mentioned above, there are several different methods of cleaning a camera bag, and one of them is the dry cleaning technique. This method requires no water and is probably the easiest of them all.

How to Clean a Camera Bag Without Washing it

The interior is still cleaned similarly to the other methods by using a small vacuum cleaner to suck up crumbs, dust, and whatever other debris is in there. Also consider using a damp cloth to wipe the interior to get rid of any small particulate dust that could harm the lens of the camera.

Then, with either a brush or a washcloth, simply scrub the exterior of the bag. This “dry clean” method won’t remove anything like a stain that has worked its way inside the fibers of the bag, but it’s a great way to quickly clean off any dried mud or water spots.

If any stains or dirt remain after a dry scrub, try the spot cleaning methods mentioned above.

If you have a hard case, make sure you use cleaning materials safe for use and no harsh chemicals.

Hard Shell Electronics Case

In Short

Cleaning your camera bag is not a necessary thing but it can help for a more professional look. The easiest way is to use a washing machine, but that could fade and damage the bag over time. If you use a washing machine, make sure the bag is completely dry before using it again. Any residual moisture or humidity could damage your equipment.

For those who would rather do it by hand, there are three main methods:

  1. The first is a total body wash for the bag with a gentle cleanser, inside and out.
  2. The second is an entirely dry cleaning with nothing more than a brush and elbow grease.
  3. The final starts as a dry clean but then uses a spot clean method for hard stains or debris.

Each method has its pros and its cons, it is entirely up to you to choose which one works best for you. Always check with the manufacturer’s recommendations before washing your bag with any method!