Along with the yearly school supply list, there are two items that are super important and needed for every school day – lunch kits and backpacks! These tend to get very well used, and even ruined from daily use, so it’s not uncommon to have to buy them at the start of every school year (hopefully not more than that!). Your kids want to look good going to school so they may be picky on the style or design, but all us parents want are items that will last so we don’t need to buy more than is absolutely necessary! Some kits and packs are better than others for cleaning and durability so they may last beyond one year of use. Let’s review.
Just think, your child will need close to 200 lunches made for them in a school year. For that reason alone you’ll need something durable. There are so many options when it comes to lunch kits. From plastic containers to fabric bags the selection is endless. But do not fret, we are here to help.
Lunch kit considerations
- Kids love their bling, but steer clear of lunch kits that have sequins or jewels. These are not as easy to keep clean and they tend to fall off anyways.
- Avoid kits with many seams and crevices. Less pockets the better.
- Hard lunch kits protect food better than soft sides, just watch for kits with flimsy hinges and latches that can easily break
- Plastic lined lunch kits are easiest to clean – some can even just go in the dishwasher!
- Consider kits that are insulated and leak proof. Some kits expand or have room for ice packs. Ice packs help keep food safe for most of the school day (Canada & USA)
- Rigid pull out compartments (Bento style) can also be very useful to keep food organized and are easily thrown into the dishwasher. They are also the most eco-friendly as you don’t need to use single use sandwich bags (elementary – Canada & USA) (teens and adults – Canada & USA)
- Don’t buy a kit that is too large or heavy to carry along with other school bags and supplies
- Bentgo Kids lunch kits – Canada & USA
- Floyfly Kids – Canada & USA
- Fit & Fresh – Canada & USA
- Yeti hard side – Canada & USA
- Insulated food jars – Canada & USA
Cleaning lunch kits
Lunch kits should be cleaned out daily and washed regularly. Have your child help empty them out and then wash anything that needs to be replaced the next day. For water bottles, throw them in the dishwasher often! And avoid buying water bottles that have straws and other areas that stay moist and can grow mold. For kits, use blue Dawn® dish soap (Canada & USA), or Dawn® Powerwash (Canada & USA), warm water and a cloth or scrub brush on the inside and outside of your lunch kit. Rinse well, then allow to dry. If it’s a fabric bag, then it can also be thrown in the laundry (with your kids backpack – see below) with powdered Tide® (Canada & USA) on a gentle cold water setting, and then let air dry to try to avoid any shrinking or warping if plastic containers are to fit snug inside of it.
If the kit was left way too long with something gross inside, let it sit for a few hours in the soapy water or run fabric kits through the washing machine. For plastic containers, another option is to fill them with water and a capful of bleach, but beware of any fabric as it might discolor! Make sure to rinse the plastic container very, very well after. Both methods should remove the spoiled food and stink!
I think we can all agree that kids carry around a lot of shit for school! So many supplies, books, binders, laptops, lunches, and personal items. The backpack they carry it all in better be able to withstand the abuse! Just like lunch kits, there are many options to buy and for all different price points, but also many affordable ones that will work. Let’s narrow it down for you.
- Appearance. Stay away from light colors as they show dirt fast!
- Size does matter. Buy the right size for the right grade. Younger years require smaller packs with less compartments than older ones who need to carry more.
- Multi compartments can be useful to organize and separate items but are a bit more effort to clean. Some come with a handy tech sleeve, check that the size is correct for your laptop / device. Some packs come with a built in charge cord – but be careful when cleaning it!
- Consider breathable mesh or ventilation if the pack will be worn for lengthy periods of time
- Water resistant lining will help with cleaning
- Side pockets are very handy for water bottles and smaller items
- Some fabrics are better than others for being rip resistant. Polyester is most common and can rip, but should last the year, where nylon is more durable if you’re looking for one that could last longer.
- Consider security as well. How accessible is the backpack to others (open vs covered zippers). Some packs even come with a lock if security is a concern.
- Bentgo Kids Prints – Canada & USA
- Simple Modern – Canada & USA
- Wildkin – Canada & USA
- Skip Hop – Canada & USA
- Herschel – Canada & USA
Backpacks get filthy. Inside and out. And if you want it to last for the school year, and maybe even beyond, then regular cleanings are a must.
First let’s look at stains. Rule of thumb: Treat them asap. Most stains can be spot treated with Tide® Rescue. But if you’re dealing with specific stains then both of these articles can also help: Protein Stains – 3 Easy Hacks for Dealing with Protein Stains and Food Stains – 5 Cheap and Easy Hacks for Dealing with Food Stains.
Empty the pack completely, checking every compartment and pocket. Leave everything unzipped. Check the care instructions label, if there is one. Use Tide® Rescue for any spot treating. Then throw the pack in the laundry (by itself or along with your kids fabric lunch kits) with powdered Tide®, wash with cold water and let air dry rather than throw in the dryer. Do not use bleach.
Alternately for a quick clean, use blue Dawn® dish soap to either wipe or soak the backpack inside and out. Use a cloth to remove all the dirt, including the crumbs that are in the seams and crevices. Hang to air dry. It’ll look brand new!
Trust us, it is worth taking time with your kids to find the right kits and packs for the school year (and hopefully beyond!). They will head to school with confidence and perform better with their daily essentials secure and readily accessible. While you will have an easier time on the pocket book and cleaning each item. As they say, it’s the most wonderful time of the year so let’s get those kids all hyped up for school!
- Denise @gocleanco