How to Clean a Tote Bag: Must-Know Cleaning Tips

How to Clean a Tote Bag

Tote bags have great utility in everyday life. And after prolonged use, there are chances that they will get dirty. And most people damage these bags during washing, instead of getting them neat and clean.

Tote bags such as the Marc Jacobs bags are very sensitive to harsh detergents, bleach, or soap chemicals. You will fade the designs or colors of your bag by using such chemicals. Even the use of excessive water can shrink the tote bags. Therefore, you should wash your tote bag correctly. 

Moreover, you should follow a proper washing guide to avoid damaging your tote canvas bag. So here is a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know during the washing process. 

Protective Measures Before Washing 

Consider following protective measures before washing the Chloe tote bags. 

  • First, remove all the attachables and extensions, such as scarves, brooches, buttons, embroidery, any type of print, etc. 
  • The temperature of the water must be low. Warm water can damage paintings, drawings, or patterns. If possible, conduct a color fading or bleeding test.
  • If washing with a machine, set a soft or delicate cycle.

Bag Preparation

Here are some bag preparations you should do when washing with your hands or machine.

  • Empty the bag. Open the zippers and check all the pockets or compartments. Then, shake the bag firmly in the upside-down position. Remove even the small dust particles, crumbs, coins, papers, dirt, or trash.
  •  If possible, use the portable vacuum cleaner to suck the small dust particles from the bag.
  • Check the lining of the bag. Small particles can be hidden in the attachments of the bag.
  • The most important thing is to check the care label of the bag. There are many instructions for extra protection of the bag.

Stain Removal Or Pretreating The Stains

Stain Removal Or Pretreating The Stains

Sometimes, the stains are very stubborn, so they must be pretreated before washing. So here is the right way to remove such stains from your tote bags.

Firstly, try to clean it with water and a soft cloth. If not removed, you can use a liquid detergent or baking soda on these stains. Only apply the detergent to that portion of the bag. Or you can simply spread the powder of the detergent on the stains. And let it rest for a few minutes. This will soften the stains. So these can be removed easily during washing.

Manual Washing Or Hand Washing

Some tote bags are washable with machines, but most of the tote bags need manual washing. As these have sensitive prints and adornments, machine washing can damage them. 

Take a soft white cloth or a soft scrubbing brush to do the spot cleaning. Dip it in mild, warm water and wipe down the spots carefully. If the bag is cleaned through this process, then it’s great. Otherwise, mix a few drops of dish detergent or soap in the bowl. Then, dip the cloth in that mixture to scrub the bag.

However, you can soak the whole bag in the water basin if it is safe for the prints. Take a water sink or tub and mix warm water with mild detergent. Then, let the bag soak completely in the water. Use the white cloth to scrub the bag completely.

Machine Washing 

If machine washing is allowed in the care instructions, go for this process. Before putting the bag in the washer, consider the following tips.

  • Maintain the temperature as mentioned on the care label.
  • Set the machine on a delicate cycle.
  • Use detergents that don’t have bleach or harsh chemicals in them.
  • Keep the tote bag in the washer alone.
  • If possible, put the tote bags in the washing bags or mesh bags.

Following the instructions mentioned above, you can put the bag in the machine. Let it complete the cycle, and then take the bag out immediately.


Rinsing is very important as it will remove remnants of detergents or other chemicals that otherwise can fade the colors.

After both cleaning methods, you have to rinse the bags properly. You can use a towel dipped in clean water to rinse the bag. Or you can use a sink of clean and cold water. Soak the bag in the water and then wring out the water.  

Make sure to reshape the bag after rinsing, as tote bags can wrinkle or shrink.


You should dry the bag in the open air. Just hang it on the clothesline and let it dry. Drying through a machine or dryer can dry your tote bag quickly. But it can shrink or destroy your bag.

Removing Smell Or Mold From Tote Bags


To remove the smell or mold from the tote bags, you can use dish soap, baking soda, vinegar, or sometimes bleach for stubborn molds. You can choose one of the items mentioned above. I prefer vinegar. Make a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Then, spray it on the smelly or moldy area. Then, using a soft sponge or washing cloth, scrub that area. This will easily remove the mold and smell from your bag.

The other option is to sprinkle the baking soda on the smelly area. Let it rest for 24 hours. It is a natural odor absorber. It will absorb the odor from the bag and give it a good smell. After this, you can wash it from your bag by hand or machine. 

To avoid the formation of mold or smell again in your bag keep it in the open air. Or you can hang the bag in direct sunlight for some time. 


To remove mold and smell, you can use vinegar, soap, baking soda, alcohol, or bleach. Spraying a vinegar solution will soften the mold. Clean it using a soft cloth. In the case of baking soda, keep it inside the bag for a day and dry it in sunlight.


Tote bags are reusable and eco-friendly, so they have great use. Moreover, tote bags come in a great variety, such as canvas tote bags or handbags, leather tote bags, Longchamp tote bags, plastic tote bags, tote Marc Jacobs bags, Chloe tote bags, lands End tote bags, etc.

Follow one of the above washing methods, whatever is suitable for your bag, and according to the amount of dirt and stains.

You will find appropriate washing methods for other bags, such as backpacks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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