Can you wash tote bags?


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Yes, you can wash tote bags, but it’s essential to follow the proper cleaning methods based on the material of the bag. Most tote bags are made of canvas, cotton, or polyester, which can be washed.

Dos and don’ts of washing tote bags


  • Do check the care label for specific washing instructions based on the material.
  • Do empty the bag completely, including any detachable straps or accessories.
  • Do pre-treat stains with a stain remover or a mild detergent and water solution.
  • Do use cold water and mild detergent for washing.
  • Do consider using a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect the tote bag in the washing machine.
  • Do choose a gentle cycle when using a washing machine.
  • Do hand wash delicate materials or when in doubt.
  • Do rinse thoroughly to remove all soap, especially when hand washing.
  • Do gently reshape the tote bag after washing.
  • Do air dry the tote bag by laying it flat and avoiding direct sunlight.


  • Don’t ignore the care label’s instructions.
  • Don’t wash a tote bag with items inside or attached.
  • Don’t use bleach, as it may damage the material or fade the colors.
  • Don’t use hot water, as it may cause the bag to shrink or the colors to bleed.
  • Don’t use a harsh washing cycle that could damage the tote bag.
  • Don’t attempt to machine wash leather, suede, or other delicate materials.
  • Don’t wring or twist the tote bag, as it may damage its shape or structure.
  • Don’t dry the tote bag in direct sunlight, as it may cause the colors to fade.
  • Don’t use a dryer, as the heat can damage or shrink the material.
  • Don’t attempt to clean a tote bag made of delicate materials without consulting a professional cleaner.

Step-by-step guide to washing tote bags

Step 1

Check the care label and empty the bag: Before washing your tote bag, read the care label for any specific instructions based on the material. Empty the bag completely, removing all items and detaching any straps or accessories.

Step 2

Pre-treat stains: If there are visible stains on the tote bag, pre-treat them with a stain remover or a mixture of water and mild detergent. Gently rub the solution into the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before washing.

Step 3

Wash the tote bag: Hand wash the tote bag or use a washing machine with a gentle cycle. If using a washing machine, place the tote bag in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase for added protection. Use cold water and a mild detergent, avoiding bleach or harsh chemicals that could damage the fabric or fade the colors.

Step 4

Rinse and reshape: If hand washing, rinse the tote bag thoroughly in cold water to remove all soap. After washing, gently reshape the tote bag to maintain its structure.

Step 5

Air dry: Lay the tote bag flat to air dry, avoiding direct sunlight to prevent fading. Do not use a dryer, as the heat can damage or shrink the material.

Final thoughts 💭

Proper care and maintenance of your tote bag can prolong its life and keep it looking fresh. By following a simple 5-step guide that includes checking the care label, pre-treating stains, washing with appropriate methods, reshaping, and air drying, you can ensure your tote bag remains in good condition.

Remember to always follow the care instructions for the specific material of your bag and use gentle cleaning techniques to avoid damage or fading. With these steps, your tote bag will continue to serve its purpose while maintaining its appearance and functionality.

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