So despite me telling her a thousand times not to use the crappy plastic food containers, my sister still put my lunch into a crappy plastic food container. My lunch consisted of tuna and had quite a lot of oil.

Of course because the plastic container is complete crap, it leaked tuna oil all over the inside of my backpack.

How can I clean my backpack, remove the oil, and smell from the material? Without damaging the backpack in any way. The backpack is a bright green on the inside with white meshing in places and a black outside. I fear that the green will run and ruin the rest of the material.

  • What research have you done? What have you tried? Why are standard cleaning products not sufficient for this? Recommended reading: What topics can I ask about here? Oct 19, 2015 at 23:32
  • @AdamZuckerman I haven't tried anything yet, it is an expensive backpack and I do not want to damage it, that's why I'm asking for advice on how this can be done properly here.
    – Aequitas
    Oct 19, 2015 at 23:46
  • Recommended reading: What is Lifehacks.SE about? Oct 19, 2015 at 23:55
  • 2
    @AdamZuckerman well there are plenty of other how to clean questions on this site: here here and here to name a few and even this one about cleaning a backpack. Why is mine any different to the 209 other cleaning questions on this site?
    – Aequitas
    Oct 20, 2015 at 0:08
  • 2
    @Alex In addition (and for the future), you can wrap the crappy plastic food container in a paper towel, and then put the wrapped container in a plastic bag. The bag will keep the paper towel in place, and the paper towel will absorb any leakage. Oct 20, 2015 at 19:32

3 Answers 3


You may try to spill some salt on the area. Salt would drain some oil from backpack. After that, you have to wash your backpack with soap. :/ Sorry for the incident

  • First, if you are afraid of the green color will run, don't use hot water!Make sure to use cold/regular cold tap water when washing your backpack.
  • To get rid of oil, if there's too much of it, I suggest soaking it up with paper towel first. If it's already spread out and soaked by your backpack, I suggest using extra detergent/dish soap on that spot. You should apply detergent/dish soap on it multiple times until the oil is pretty much gone. Each time you wash off the detergent/dish soap, some oil will be taken away by detergent.
  • Please take a look at my answer for "how to wash a backpack" to give your backpack a final rinse after getting rid of most oil.
  • To get rid of the smell, hopefully after washing the spot with detergent so many time would get rid of the smell. But if it doesn't, you can probably get a box of baking soda and leave it in your backpack for a couple days after it's dried. The same way baking soda would get rid of the smell in your fridge, it will get rid of the smell in your backpack.

Hope this helps! :)


Having to deal with the same kind of problem in the past (olive oil in a backpack), I recommend you wash your backpack or the oiled part with really hot water, gently rubbing it with the hands, using gloves if you don't stand hot water.

Depending of the material composing your backpack, only water should not damage it, even hot. Be careful though with glued parts like straps, as really hot water could make it melt.

  • Hot water can cause colors to bleed/run. Oct 21, 2015 at 17:57
  • It depends if the material is dyed or not. I used hot water a few days ago on a black Eastpack backpack, nothing bad happened. Oct 22, 2015 at 6:03

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