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How to clean a canvas bag

Is your canvas bag looking a bit grubby? Worry not. Read on this article to find out how to clean canvas bags, no matter the type you have.


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A canvas bag is a win-win for any wardrobe but unfortunately canvas is one of those materials that requires special cleaning care, especially when it comes to tough stains and grime. Follow our tips on how to wash a canvas bag so that you can continue enjoying your tote for years to come - and if you want to learn how to wash a canvas bag with leather straps or even how to remove ink from a canvas bag that's been used on the school-run then don't worry, we've got you covered.

Do not use hot water in bright-colored canvas bags as the heat encourages color to run. Always test in a small part first.

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How to clean a canvas tote bag

It’s time to pull out your canvas tote bag and get cleaning!

First, when learning how to wash a canvas bag, you must prepare your bag:

  • Empty all the pockets and zippers.
  • Remove any excess dirt or garbage in the bag. 
  • Check the care labels for washing guidance.
  • Make sure every element of your bag is safe for washing, such as any prints or decorations. If it does have any prints or paintings on it, be sure to wash it at a cooler temperature.

Next, before you begin cleaning the entire canvas bag, you should remove any stains first:

  • Unsure how to remove stains from canvas bags? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
  • Use some liquid detergent or other stain remover and slowly remove the stains with a damp white cloth. 
  • Don’t scrub the stain, as this could damage the canvas material. Dab firmly instead.

Once any stains are out, you can continue through these steps for how to clean a canvas bag. While most canvas bags are fine for the washing machine, it’s best to play it on the safe side and just hand wash your tote. 


  • Soft white cloth
  • Warm water
  • Dish detergent


  1. Dip a clean, soft white cloth in a basin of warm water.
  2. Wring out any excess water from the cloth.
  3. Wipe the entire canvas.
  4. Avoid any printed or colored parts of the bag to prevent color fading and bleeding.
  5. If contact with water won’t damage any elements of the bag, soak the entire tote in the basin of warm water.
  6. Clean the bag with the cloth in a circular motion.

How to remove stains from canvas bags

Does your bag still show stains after washing it? No problem! Some stains are quite difficult to get out, such as ink or coffee and require a bit more work. If you need to know how to remove ink from a canvas bag, follow these steps below.


  1. Spray the stain with hairspray to prevent it from spreading.
  2. Dab the ink stain with paper towels to soak up the ink.
  3. Blot dry cleaning solvent onto the stained area with a clean paper towel.
  4. Combine ½ cup of cream of tartar and one quart of hot water.
  5. Place a sponge in the mixture and squeeze out any excess water.
  6. Scrub the ink stain with the sponge and continue blotting the ink away with paper towels.
  7. After removing as much of the stain as possible, dampen the entire canvas with water.
  8. Leave the bag for 30 minutes before patting the canvas with paper towels and leaving it to dry.
Another difficult material to clean is suede. Read our advice on how to clean your suede accessories for more help here.

How to clean a canvas bag with leather  

Now that you know how to clean a canvas tote bag and how to remove a stain from a canvas bag, it’s time to master how to clean a canvas bag with leather. To do this, you’ll want to clean the leather separately from the rest of the bag.

First, this is what you'll need:

  • Unscented baby wipes
  • Water, basin
  • Mild detergent
  • Soft cloth

Now, here's the process:

  1. When learning how to wash a canvas bag with leather straps, begin by wiping down the straps with unscented baby wipes to remove any residue. 
  2. Then, mix one cup of warm water and ½ teaspoon of mild detergent – ensure that the detergent is safe for the leather straps, such as a dish or delicate laundry detergent. 
  3. Dip a soft, white cloth in the soap mixture, wring out any excess water and begin wiping the leather straps. 
  4. Use a clean, dry cloth to run over the straps again to soak up any extra moisture and voila! You’ve just learned how to clean a canvas messenger bag or tote with leather hardware.

A clean canvas bag is a happy canvas bag…

When it comes to learning how to clean a coated canvas bag or removing difficult stains, the key is a little tender love and care. The effort will be well-worth the perfectly clean, stain-free appearance of your canvas bag. Now that you know how to clean a canvas bag, enjoy this stylish, environmentally-friendly accessory for years to come.

Originally published