Laundry tips: Washing the school essentials in half term

We’re already halfway through the first term of the new school year. As the kids relax for October half term, now’s the time to give their school essentials a deep clean using our laundry tips. These everyday items will have built up plenty of dirt and grime over the past seven weeks, and will need a thorough wash.

From backpacks to trainers, here are some laundry tips from Vivien Fodor, Laundry Category Manager at Indesit, on how to save time, money and effort when washing these items. Follow her advice to get your kids’ school essentials looking and feeling brand new for the next half term.

School bags

Bags or backpacks are an everyday school essential for all students. Prep them for washing by turning the bag inside out and shaking outside to get rid of any debris or crumbs. Then, put the bag into a pillowcase to protect your machine from zips and plastic straps.

Choose a gentle setting at a low temperature to get good results. A 45-minute wash at 30°C is ideal.

Pencil cases

Like the school bag, get rid of debris like pencil shavings before washing. Wash at 30°C or below to avoid wearing out the fabric.

For more delicate pencil cases, you don’t need to resort to handwashing the item. Choose a delicates cycle for a gentle wash action with a low spin speed to avoid damaging the fabric.

white fabric pencil case
Image credit: Madeline Bennett


PE trainers will certainly need a wash after weeks of games lessons in muddy fields. Remove any loose dirt first, and set aside laces and insoles to wash separately.

Put trainers into a mesh washing bag to protect them from damage.

Check care guide labels on shoes before machine washing. As a general rule, avoid washing trainers with leather or suede elements, or glued-on details.

Some machines have a designated shoe wash cycle. If not, use a cold wash delicate cycle to protect fabrics.

After washing, reshape the trainers.

dirty trainers
Image credit: Madeline Bennett

Lunch boxes

Lunch boxes should be regularly cleaned by hand to get rid of spills, leaks or unwanted food. But a wash in the machine at half term will give them a deep clean.

Use diluted white vinegar or a baking soda/water combo to loosen any stubborn stains first.

Then, place the open lunch box inside the drum and run a cold, gentle cycle with a splash of detergent.

To save on water use and save time, add other laundry like towels, pencil cases or other school essentials to the same wash.