Can You Wash Canvas Tote Bags

Are you wondering if it’s possible to wash canvas tote bags? Well, good news! You absolutely can. Canvas tote bags are not only fashionable and versatile, but they are also durable and easy to clean. Whether you’ve spilled something on it or it’s just in need of a refresh, washing your canvas tote bags is a simple and effective way to keep them looking clean and presentable. In this article, we will explore the best methods for washing canvas tote bags and provide you with some helpful tips to ensure they maintain their quality and longevity. So, let’s dive in!


Before you begin the process of cleaning your canvas tote bag, it’s important to take a few steps to prepare. The first thing you should do is read the care label that is typically found inside the bag. This label will provide you with important information on how to best clean and care for your specific bag.

Next, you should empty the bag and remove any excess dirt or debris. This can be done by turning the bag upside down and gently shaking it to remove any loose particles. You can also use a soft brush or cloth to remove any stubborn dirt or debris that may be stuck to the bag.

Hand Washing Method

If your canvas tote bag is particularly dirty or has stains that need extra attention, hand washing is the best method to ensure a thorough clean. Here’s how you can hand wash your canvas tote bag:

  1. Fill a basin with lukewarm water. Make sure the water is not too hot, as this can damage the fabric of the bag.
  2. Add a small amount of mild detergent to the water. Be sure to use a detergent that is gentle and suitable for hand washing.
  3. Gently agitate the water to create a soapy solution.
  4. Submerge the bag in the water and allow it to soak for a few minutes.
  5. Use a soft brush or cloth to scrub the bag, paying extra attention to any stained areas or spots that need additional cleaning.
  6. Rinse the bag thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of soap.
  7. Press out any excess water from the bag, but avoid twisting or wringing it, as this can distort the shape of the bag.
  8. Finally, air dry the bag away from direct heat or sunlight. Hang it up or place it on a towel to allow it to dry completely.
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Machine Washing Method

If your canvas tote bag is made from a sturdy material and is labeled as machine washable, you may choose to clean it using a washing machine. Here’s how you can machine wash your canvas tote bag:

  1. Check the care label on the bag to confirm that it can be safely machine washed.
  2. Before washing, turn the bag inside out to protect the outside surface from any potential damage.
  3. Place the bag inside a mesh laundry bag to protect it during the wash cycle.
  4. Add a small amount of mild detergent to the washing machine.
  5. Select a gentle cycle with cold water to prevent any shrinking or fading of the bag.
  6. Start the machine wash and allow it to complete the cycle.
  7. Once the cycle is finished, promptly remove the bag from the machine.
  8. Reshape the bag while it is still damp to restore its original shape.
  9. Finally, let the bag air dry completely away from direct heat or sunlight.

Spot Cleaning Method

Spot cleaning is a quick and effective way to tackle small stains or spills on your canvas tote bag. Here’s how you can spot clean your bag:

  1. Identify the stained areas on the bag.
  2. Dampen a clean cloth with water.
  3. Apply a small amount of mild detergent or stain remover to the cloth.
  4. Gently blot the stained areas with the damp cloth, being careful not to rub or scrub too harshly.
  5. Rinse the cloth and blot again to remove any leftover detergent or stain remover.
  6. Allow the bag to air dry completely.

Removing Odors

If your canvas tote bag has developed an unpleasant odor, there are a few methods you can use to help eliminate it. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda on the interior of the bag, ensuring that it covers all areas. Baking soda is known for its ability to absorb odors.
  2. Let the baking soda sit overnight, allowing it to work its magic and absorb any unwanted smells.
  3. The next day, vacuum or shake out the baking soda from the bag.
  4. Alternatively, you can use a fabric freshener spray to mask any lingering odors. Simply spray the interior and exterior of the bag lightly and let it air dry.
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Removing Stains

Different types of stains require different approaches for effective removal. Here are some tips for removing common stains from your canvas tote bag:

  • For grease or oil stains, you can apply a small amount of dish soap directly to the stained area, gently rub it in, and then rinse thoroughly with water.
  • For ink stains, try applying rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to the stain. Blot the area with a clean cloth until the stain starts to lift, then rinse with water.
  • For food or beverage stains, create a mixture of water and white vinegar. Dampen a cloth with the mixture and gently blot the stained area. Rinse with water afterwards.
  • For mold or mildew stains, mix hydrogen peroxide with water in a 1:1 ratio. Apply the mixture to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with water.
  • For stubborn stains that don’t respond to the above methods, it may be best to consult a professional cleaner who specializes in cleaning canvas bags.

Drying Tips

Proper drying techniques are crucial to ensure that your canvas tote bag maintains its shape and longevity. Here are some tips for drying your bag:

  • Avoid using a dryer or direct heat sources, as these can cause shrinkage or damage to the fabric.
  • Do not wring or twist the bag to remove excess water, as this can distort its shape.
  • Instead, gently press out any excess water from the bag using your hands or by laying it flat on a towel and applying gentle pressure.
  • Reshape the bag while it is still damp to restore its original form. This can be done by gently pulling and stretching the bag back into shape.
  • Finally, allow the bag to air dry completely in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Ironing or Steaming

While not all canvas tote bags can be ironed, some may benefit from a slight touch-up to remove wrinkles or creases. Here are some tips for ironing or steaming your bag:

  • Check the care label on the bag to determine if ironing is suitable and to find the recommended heat setting.
  • If ironing is allowed, use a low to medium heat setting to prevent any damage to the fabric.
  • Place a thin cloth or pressing cloth on top of the bag before ironing to protect the surface from direct contact with the iron.
  • Gently press the iron over the cloth, moving it in smooth motions to remove any wrinkles. Avoid excessive steam or pressure, as this can cause water stains or fabric damage.
  • If you prefer to use a steamer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and steam the bag using gentle, sweeping motions to remove wrinkles.
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Storing the Bag

Proper storage is key to maintaining the quality and longevity of your canvas tote bag. Here are some tips for storing your bag:

  • Ensure that the bag is completely dry before storing it. This helps prevent mold or mildew growth.
  • Fold or roll the bag neatly to minimize creases and wrinkles.
  • Store the bag in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat sources that can fade or damage the fabric.
  • Avoid compressing the bag for extended periods of time, as this can cause the fabric to become misshapen or creased.


Regularly cleaning your canvas tote bags is essential for maintaining their appearance and durability. By following the appropriate cleaning method based on the care label and type of stains, you can ensure that your bags remain in great condition for years to come. Remember to always air dry your bags away from direct heat or sunlight, and follow the recommended drying and storing techniques for long-lasting use. With proper care, your canvas tote bags will continue to serve you well on all your everyday adventures.


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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