I have a very old backpack (10-15 years old) that is perfect for one day or weekend hikes. The problem is that the inside material has started to peel off and it leaves small bits of yellowish plastic on anything that I put in there. This is specially annoying with clothes, fleeces in particular, because it is very hard to clean-off.

Old backpack inside material peeling off

I tried washing and brushing but with limited success. Is there anything I can do to save this bag?

  • 6
    That is not uncommon, probably not much can be done. Its unlikely the backpack is water proof any more. Using a large bag (probably plastic) for a liner will solve both problems cheaply.
    – user5330
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 21:22
  • Everyone just says "brush harder" and I guess that works but I can't help but wonder if leaving in the sun inside out would help with the UV making the polymer crumple instead of stick.
    – Vorac
    Commented May 5 at 7:03

9 Answers 9


It looks like the waterproof coating is flaking off. Try washing with a cloth and warm soap and water. I've had reasonable success with this method in the past.


Soap / water / kitchen brush (not wire for me) + 30 minutes of listening to good music and scrubbing.


Just a suggestion, you could try putting a small amount of something abrasive (such as rock salt or perhaps gravel) into the bag, closing the bag securely with a zip tie on the zipper pulls & placing it in a clothes drier on the Fluff setting (no heat) for some period of time.

Or if putting it in the drier makes you nervous, you could try agitating it by hand instead with an abrasive inside (the last thing you want are bits of gravel zooming around inside your drier.)

I've of course never tried this, it is just what comes to mind...

  • I can't help but feel that this would either totally break the bag, or make the problem worse
    – user2766
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 14:29
  • 2
    I can see how it might break the bag, hence my cautioning about using only a small amount of whatever abrasive to avoid putting too much weight in the bag & flinging it around in the drier, or attempting it by hand if the drier makes the OP nervous. But I can't really see how it could make the problem 'worse'. Either it would scrub off the coating, or it wouldn't. Neither outcome is 'worse' than where the OP started.
    – renesis
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 14:51

I tried using Goo Gone on a small portion of a pack like this. It did not work very well.

I then tried a rubber cement eraser (It is basically a hard piece of rubber that gathers up loose pieces of the cement for graphic arts work.) That did not work.

Renisis was on the right track. I tried a fine grained paint sanding block (Home Depot). That took off some of the stuff. I was also able to get into the corners of the pack with the sharp corners of the rubbery block. But, it was still difficult to get the old waterproofing off without damaging the nylon fabric. The waterproofing is in the fabric. A heavier grained sanding block would have probably worked better. But, you have to be patient, work on a hard flat surface and be careful not to press too hard.


A few thoughts. My old Gregory pack started losing its weatherproofing a few years ago, at least in part, due to mold. So, after scrapping off the old material (yes, even in the corners), I treated it for mold (expose it to lots of sunshine, soaked it in a mold killer) Then, I coated the inside with a heavy-duty sealant for tent floors. It was all a stupid crazy amount of work, but so would be earning enough money to buy a new pack. Pack stays dry as a bone now.

  • I have an old Lowe Alpine backpack with lots of inside corners and compartments, and it looked like a stupid crazy amount of work. I used a small power washer, and it worked great on the large areas and the corners.
    – Dave X
    Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 16:38

I am using a wire brush, and putting a wood block inside the bag in order to provide a flat surface to brush against. It's not amazing, but it's working fairly well. Seems better than the other answers here.wire brushing in progress

  • This worked even better once I started putting warm soapy water on it. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 19:53

I had a Lands End duffel with the delamination problem. I turned it inside out and put it in the washing machine using detergent and the hot water setting and that removed most of the urethane coating. I thought better of putting the bag in the dryer. The coating remained fully intact on one panel. I suspect our problem is occurring because of a manufacturing defect on the supply level. My bag has sentimental value, which prevents me from sending it to the landfill.


I returned an ll bean pack that I loved but the waterproofing turned to mush,very sticky.I have another ll bean pack doing the same thing so I tried denatured alcohol. It was messy but it cleaned it off very well.now I'll just have to put everything in plastic bags in the pack because there is no more waterproofing. If you could soak it in denatured alcohol,that would work the best.


Like the answer from Paul, I scrubbed all messy parts with alcohol using a strong but nylon (or so) brush. It does come off quite ok then. After I impregnated it with a nikwash product. I do love my Lowa backpack, it does carry heavyer loads very well, so I do not want to part from it for now!

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