How to Clean a Stained Tote Bag

September 17, 2013 | By | Comments (4)

pink-funny-bag_300Canvas totes are wonderfully versatile—a plain bag is essential for eco-friendly shopping, while an elegant print (even if it’s DIY) can elevate the standard to a work-appropriate accessory. The only issue: Tote bags can be tricky to clean.

To remove a minor dirt stain, rub the soiled area with a dry gum eraser ($0.69, often seen in art class—you are, after all, working on canvas. Avoid spot cleaning, as it will most likely leave a water ring on the material.

A deeper, heavier stain may require a professional hand cleaning by a handbag expert… and you may find, given the nature of the bag, it’s not worth the cost. And forget trying to remove ink—according to Chris Moore, owner of New York City’s Artbag, which specializes in repairs and cleaning, it’s almost impossible to get out.

Whatever you do, avoid a dry cleaning, as the machinery involved may do more harm than good.

Looking for more cleaning tips? Check out these tried-and-true solutions from Real Simple readers.


  1. libbyat

    Try isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to remove ink, then toss the entire thing into the wash on perm care and the dryer. Iron if needed, if too wrinkly spritz with water before ironing….the thing’s cotton not silk and should hold up.

    September 18, 2013 at 8:18 am
  2. Amy P

    I tossed my mainly-white tote in the wash because it was getting fairly dingy. I had to iron it after but it looks way better despite going through a washing machine. The running alcohol and erasers are great ideas – I’ll try that for spot cleaning.

    September 18, 2013 at 9:39 am
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    October 27, 2013 at 2:04 am
  4. 2013 パトリック シューズ

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