Some time ago, I had a mishap during an oil-change, and one of my Ryobi bags was sitting in the resulting spill. I tossed it in the laundry to get the oil out. Big mistake! The stiffeners in the side panels are apparently cardboard. They turned to mush.
Now I’ve got a big Milwaukee bag that’s looking pretty grimy, and I’m hesitant…
On the other hand, I have a canvas rigger’s bag that’s been through the wash numerous times, and it survives and thrives. I don’t run it through the dryer, rather, I stuff plastic trim tools into the pouches and let it air-dry; it seems to rejuvenate the stiffness so it stands up on its own. (After some time in the field, it gets a little too supple and starts falling in on itself.) Most of my toolbelt pouches have been washed (they get sweaty…), and of course the little zipper-top parts bags benefit from a spiffing-up now and then.
I got a used Veto Pro bag that was caked with sheetrock dust. I hosed it out, and being semi-arid here in Denver, thought it was dry.
Later when I pulled out some tools, the rust was apparent and I realized I packed it back up way too early. Water was still in there somewhere.
Well, I’m happy to report that Milwaukee’s bags are better made than Ryobi’s. I finally decided this one was so dirty I didn’t care if it survived the wash, and it did!
The stiffener panel must not be cardboard or cardboard derivatives.
Glad to hear it!
It may be possible to replace a cardboard stiffener with one you make from plastic, tempered hardboard or even very thin plywood. Carefully open a seam or slit the fabric, take out the cardboard, and if it is still in good shape, use it as a template. Otherwise cut one from stiff paper, and trim it until it fits. Cut the new stiffener from whatever material you like, insert, and maybe close up the cut, or just seal the edges so it won’t unravel.
That plastic “cardboard” used for temporary signs is called Coroplast and makes great stiffener material. I’ve picked up (bought) scraps from sign shops in pieces well large enough to make things out of without having to go full 4’x8’.
That’s a fine idea, though Coroplast, being a corrugated material much like corrugated cardboard, bends more easily in one direction than another. It can also buckle. It also isn’t the thinnest material.
I’d also consider Kydex, a very tough plastic used for custom knife sheaths and gun holster (because it is easily shaped when heated.) It is sold in small amounts just for that purpose, though that might be more expensive per square inch. It seems to be unbreakable.
But whatever you can find will probably work. I once used some leftover binder’s board for something like that. Binder’s board is technically cardboard, but very hard and stiff. It is used to form the front and back boards in hardcover books.
Binder’s board would fall apart in the wash just like whatever Ryobi originally used. Kydex would melt in the dryer. I could air-dry a Kydex-walled bag, but at some point I’d forget and toss it in the regular heat cycle.
I guess I should cut open the Milwaukee bag and find out what’s in there, and just try to get more of that, if I felt like replacing the muck in the Ryobi bags.
The easier route is just to consider the Ryobi bags unwashable and thus either fragile or disposable, and use the Milwaukee bags for anything that might get grubby but want to get clean again.
I’d love reports of other brands of bags with wall stiffeners, if anyone’s brave enough to wash theirs. Do they collapse or survive?