Can You Put a Canvas Bag in the Washing Machine?

Can You Put a Canvas Bag in the Washing Machine?

Is one of your favorite canvas beach tote bags looking a little dirty? Consider this your complete guide to properly cleaning your beloved canvas tote, whether you decide to do so by hand or in a washing machine. Follow the recommendations and instructions below to clean your tote bag so it’s like new again!

Check the Label

This article is a complete guide to cleaning your canvas bag, but you should always refer to the washing instructions on the bag’s label. Most canvas bags will have washing instructions on the plastic tag inside. If the tag says the bag is safe for machine washing, you’re good to go! On the other hand, if it prohibits machine washing, we recommend you follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid ruining the bag. If there is no tag, you can refer to the cleaning instructions in this article.

Cleaning Products to Avoid

Canvas is a type of fabric that can be highly altered by certain cleaning products. Bleach will ruin the color, even if it’s a plain white bag. Avoid the following cleaning solutions when cleaning your canvas bag:

  • Chlorine
  • Bleach
  • Stain removers
  • Lightening detergents
  • Fabric softeners

Fabric softeners can ruin the durability and rigid shape of your canvas bag. Only use a mild detergent without additives when cleaning your bag, whether by hand or in a machine. Even heavy-duty or lightening detergents can compromise your canvas bag. Gentle dish soap is better than harsh laundry detergent, so always opt for the mildest soap when washing your canvas bag.

Manual Washing Vs. Machine Washing

Now, for the reason you’re here. Can your favorite canvas bag survive a spin in your washing machine? The answer is probably, but we do not recommend risking it. Most canvas bags can stay pretty and pristine with frequent spot cleaning. And machine washing a tote bag with zipper elements can ruin the metal! Unless your bag is so comprehensively dirty that spot cleaning is out of the question, we suggest avoiding the washing machine. The sections below explain how to safely and thoroughly clean your bag, whether you spot clean or machine wash.

Spot Cleaning:

  • If your bag contains sensitive elements, dampen a soft-textured cloth with warm water. If the bag is entirely canvas, you can submerge it in warm water.
  • Firmly wipe down the exterior of your canvas bag. Avoid leather components. Frequently wet the cloth and wring it out to ensure it is damp enough.
  • Firmly wipe down the interior of your canvas bag.
  • Empty the bowl of water and refill it. Add three to five drops of a gentle detergent to the water. You may use hand, body, or dish soap if you do not have a mild detergent.
  • Wipe or submerge the bag again using the water with detergent. Use the cloth to scrub any dirty areas or stains.
  • Once the bag looks clean, wipe it down with plain warm water or submerge it in a warm bath.

Machine Wash:

  • Ensure the bag is entirely empty and remove any accessories like keychains.
  • Wash the bag alone, so do not add other items to the washer.
  • Use a mild laundry detergent or no detergent.
  • Wash the bag in cool or cold water unless the label says otherwise.
  • Run the machine on a casual or delicate cycle.
  • Consider doing an extra dry spin in the wash to reduce moisture (optional).

Drying Canvas Bags

Now, how do you dry your wet bag? While we discussed how you could safely machine wash your bag, you should never put your tote in the dryer. The high heat in your dryer will likely shrink or damage the canvas fabric, meaning you lose your favorite tote. So, the only way to safely dry your bag is to air dry it! The best way to dry your canvas bag is to hang it where it can freely swing so the bag holds its shape and dries evenly. Light-colored canvas bags can be placed in the sun to dry faster, but dark-colored bags may fade in the sun. Canvas fabric is thick and absorbent, so it may take several days to fully dry.

Cleaning Canvas

Canvas tote bags for women and men are highly versatile and durable, making them one of our favorite products. But if you love extra large canvas tote bags as much as we do, yours probably get a lot of use and might be dirty! Keep this guide handy when you want to refresh your favorite bag!


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