Can You Put A Tote Bag In The Washer

Have you ever wondered if it’s safe to toss your trusty tote bag into the washing machine? Well, fear not, because I have the answer for you! It’s a common question many tote bag owners find themselves pondering, and rightfully so. After all, these versatile bags tend to get quite a workout, carrying everything from groceries to gym clothes. So, can you put a tote bag in the washer? Let’s find out!

Choosing the Right Tote Bag Material

When it comes to choosing the right tote bag material, there are a few factors you should consider. The fabric type plays a crucial role in determining how the tote bag should be cleaned. Some materials may be more durable and suitable for machine washing, while others may require more delicate care. Checking the care label is essential to ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and maintain the quality of the tote bag. Lastly, inspect the tote bag for any delicate embellishments that may need special attention during the cleaning process.

Preparing the Tote Bag for Washing

Before you start washing your tote bag, it’s important to prepare it properly. Begin by emptying the tote bag and removing any loose dust or debris. This can be done by shaking the bag or gently wiping it down with a soft cloth or brush. If there are any stains on the tote bag, pre-treat them before washing to maximize the chances of removing them completely.

Washing Tote Bags by Hand

If you prefer to wash your tote bag by hand, here’s a step-by-step guide. Fill a sink or bucket with mild detergent and warm water. Submerge the tote bag in the soapy water and gently agitate and scrub the fabric, paying attention to any stained areas. Once the tote bag has been thoroughly cleaned, rinse it under running water until all the soap residue is gone. To remove excess water, press the tote bag gently against the sink or squeeze it between your hands, being careful not to wring or twist the fabric.

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Machine Washing Tote Bags

Machine washing can be a convenient option for cleaning tote bags, but it’s important to follow the fabric label’s washing instructions. If the label indicates that machine washing is safe, choose a gentle or delicate cycle. To protect the tote bag from getting tangled or damaged, place it inside a mesh laundry bag before adding it to the washing machine. Add a mild detergent that is suitable for the fabric type and set the appropriate water temperature according to the label instructions. Start the washer and closely monitor the cycle to ensure that the tote bag is being properly cleaned.

Drying Tote Bags

Proper drying is crucial to prevent any damage or shape distortion of your tote bag. Always refer to the fabric label’s drying instructions, as different materials may have specific requirements. Air drying is a safe and effective method for most tote bags. Hang the tote bag by its handles or lay it flat on a clean surface, ensuring that it is well-ventilated. If you prefer machine drying, use a low or air-only setting to avoid excessive heat. During the drying process, it is important to check the tote bag regularly to ensure that it is drying evenly and to prevent any potential issues.

Ironing or Steaming Tote Bags

Ironing or steaming can help remove wrinkles and restore the look of your tote bag. However, it is crucial to check the fabric label’s instructions before proceeding. If ironing is suitable for the fabric, prep the iron or steamer according to the label’s guidelines. Different materials may require specific temperature settings, so make sure to follow them to prevent any damage. When ironing the tote bag, use gentle, sweeping motions and avoid leaving the iron in one place for too long. Steaming can be an alternative method for delicate fabrics, as it provides a gentler approach to removing wrinkles.

Cleaning Specific Tote Bag Materials

Different materials require specific cleaning approaches to maintain their quality. Here are some tips for cleaning specific tote bag materials:

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Canvas Tote Bags

Canvas tote bags are known for their durability and versatility. To clean them, you can follow the steps outlined earlier for washing tote bags by hand or machine. However, be cautious with any leather or delicate embellishments attached to the canvas, as they may require separate care.

Cotton Tote Bags

Cotton tote bags are lightweight and often easier to clean. You can generally wash them by hand or machine according to the fabric label’s instructions. If stained, pre-treat the spots before washing. However, be cautious if there are any printed or embroidered designs on the tote bag, as they may require specific care instructions.

Nylon Tote Bags

Nylon tote bags are known for their water-resistant properties. To clean them, you can typically follow the steps outlined earlier for hand or machine washing. However, be sure to avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can damage the material. After washing, ensure the bag is thoroughly dried to prevent any mildew or odors from developing.

Polyester Tote Bags

Polyester tote bags are durable and resistant to wrinkles and shrinking. They can be washed by hand or machine using mild detergent. It is recommended to avoid using fabric softeners, as they can affect the bag’s water repellency. After washing, air or machine dry the polyester tote bag according to the fabric label’s instructions.

Leather Tote Bags

Leather tote bags require special care to maintain their quality and appearance. Generally, they should not be washed, especially in a machine, as the water and agitation can damage the leather. Instead, spot cleaning with a mild leather cleaner or using a damp cloth is often the recommended method. To prevent drying or cracking, it is essential to regularly condition the leather and keep it away from direct sunlight or extreme heat.

Tips and Precautions

To ensure the longevity of your tote bag and the success of the cleaning process, consider these helpful tips and precautions:

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

When cleaning your tote bag, avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can damage the fabric or material. Stick to mild detergents that are suitable for the specific fabric type.

Don’t Overload the Washing Machine

To prevent damage to your tote bag, avoid overloading the washing machine. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding weight capacity to ensure that the bag can be properly cleaned without excessive friction.

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Check for Colorfastness

Before washing your tote bag, especially if it has colorful or printed designs, check for colorfastness. Test a small, inconspicuous area with water and detergent to ensure that the colors do not bleed or fade during the cleaning process.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

After washing or during the drying process, avoid placing your tote bag in direct sunlight. This can cause fading or discoloration, especially for materials that are sensitive to UV rays.

Handle with Care

Throughout the cleaning process, handle your tote bag with care to avoid any unnecessary stress on the fabric or any delicate embellishments. Be gentle when agitating, scrubbing, or squeezing out excess water, as rough treatment can damage the bag.

When to Avoid Washing Tote Bags

While it is generally safe to wash tote bags, there are some situations in which it is best to avoid washing:

Bags with Non-Removable Components

If your tote bag has non-removable components such as glued-on trims, logos, or appliques, it is advisable to avoid washing it. The water and agitation could cause these components to loosen or detach, potentially ruining the bag.

Delicate or Vintage Tote Bags

Delicate or vintage tote bags often require specific care or may be too fragile to withstand the washing process. In these cases, it is best to consult a professional cleaner or use gentle spot cleaning methods instead.

Bags with Glued Embellishments

Tote bags that have embellishments attached with glue should generally be handled with caution when it comes to washing. Water and detergents can weaken the glue, causing the embellishments to come loose or fall off.

Bags Made from Unwashable Materials

If your tote bag is made from materials that are not suitable for washing, such as suede or velvet, it is best to explore alternative cleaning methods. Research specialized products or consult professionals who can provide guidance on how to clean such materials.


Choosing the right tote bag material is crucial when it comes to cleaning and maintaining the bag’s quality. Whether you opt for hand washing or machine washing, it is important to follow the fabric label’s instructions and take necessary precautions to avoid damaging the bag. By properly preparing the tote bag, using appropriate cleaning methods, and carefully drying and ironing (if applicable), you can keep your tote bag looking fresh and vibrant for a long time. Remember to always consider the specific material of your tote bag and any unique care requirements it may have.


Mila Brooks

My goal for Go Girl Bags is to provide all of my site visitors with a trusted quality experience. Going down the rabbit hole of frustration trying to find the perfect bag for all you needs is not any fun. My researched information not only about bag looks, but also quality of materials and other aesthetics you may not have thought about will help you make a better informed decision. Thank you.

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