How To Clean And Take Good Care Of Your Bags

How To Clean And Take Good Care Of Your Bags

Arkel panniers are built to withstand almost any abuse. While they may go many years without any real need to be cleaned, some may want to make a better impression. It always boils down to these questions:

1. Can I clean my pannier?

Yes! For regular road dirt simply hose down your panniers. Use enough water to have the dirt run down completely. If the dirt is dried up and cakes on the fabric, you can use a soft bristle floor brush along with water. Never use the brush alone as it will encrust the dirt deeper.

2. Can I put my bike panniers in the washing machine?

Yes, but with parsimony. This is how to: 

Unscrew all the hardware off, remove the inner plates and put in the machine;

  1. Use cold or lukewarm water;
  2. Pour a little soap;
  3. Select gentle cycle.

Note: the waterproofness may suffer a bit each successive washing.


3. How can I keep my beautiful panniers from fading over time? 

Fading is part of any textile and has nothing to do with the fabric itself. For curtains and even cars, the color pigmentation of any color will be affected by U.V. rays after prolonged exposure.

We employ a special U.V. inhibitor in our fabrics, but it is expected that the color will eventually lose its brightness. Regular treatments with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) will help prolong the original brightness since most of the DWR's contain some assorted types of U.V. inhibitors as well. 


You could also buy raincovers, the advantages are that you'll protect the bag from fading and it will be easier to clean. We use the best fabric, but many years of good use will eventually begin to show. Consider that as a tribute to your adventures and lifesyle!

What if something breaks on my panniers? What should I do?

Few things can “break” on our panniers, and most of them are minor, and can wait before being cared for. See our blog post about what to do if your panniers become damaged.

Should you ever need spare parts, we’ll be more than happy to provide them to you.

5. I have oil stains from my bike chain. How can I remove them?

First try mild soap - like hand soap - with water and  try to brush off.


If it doesn’t work, you can  use a stain remover (like Shout!, for example). Use only on the oil stain. Brush off and rinse.

 6. My panniers are not waterproof anymore. How come?

First of all, the inner side of the fabric has a full waterproof coating so your belongings are safe.

But, sometimes the outside fabric Cordura can, with time, absorb some water even though they are made with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) that makes the  water “bead” on the surface. Therefore, it can fool us into believing that the pannier isn't waterproof anymore, while the  inner coating is really the most important.

As the DWR wears off (it is not so “Durable”!) the fibers begin to gorge themselves with water. The fabric still is as waterproof but, effectively, the water will begin to seep in faster because of the capillary action of water soaked threads at the seams. (This is why Arkel panniers have a "hood" over them).

If you wish, it is possible to somewhat restore the DWR with commercially available products at a sporting goods store (cost is $7-9 for a 12 oz. spray can).

 That being said, fabrics like  X-Pac do not apply to that situation.

 7. Do I have to do any kind of maintenance on the panniers?

A pannier is not a bike, but there are parts to check from time to time, like the tightness of the screws.

The only preventive measure that may be done if you wish to keep the panniers for a real long time is to apply a little bit of silicon oil on the zippers, once a year. It only costs a couple of bucks and the first time it's done it will absorb a bit more oil as it soaks in.

The good news is that just one bottle will last you for the life of the panniers. Be sure it is 100% silicone oil with no additives.

If you have questions or suggestions do not hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to hear from you!