How to keep a canvas tote bag clean

Written by brenda priddy
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How to keep a canvas tote bag clean
Canvas bags can be kept clean in a variety of different ways. (aromatic bag image by inacio pires from

Keeping a canvas tote bag clean can be extremely difficult. Tote bags are often used on floors and outdoors. The easiest way to keep a tote bag clean is to spray it with a waterproofing spray. This spray blocks the pores of the canvas and allows it to wipe clean. Before applying this solution, the bag must be cleaned. Cleaning the canvas tote, then applying the waterproofing spray will keep the tote clean for many years to come.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Canvas tote bag
  • Washing powder
  • Sponge or rag
  • Waterproofing spray
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Soft brush
  • Stain remover

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  1. 1

    Remove stains from the canvas bag by spraying the stain with a stain-lifting spray designed for clothing. Take care not to spray on a dyed or painted area of the canvas, as this can cause the dye to run or the paint to come off the bag. Allow the stain solution to sit for 5 minutes before washing the canvas.

  2. 2

    Spot clean the canvas if it is dyed or painted. Create a solution of ¼ cup of washing powder in 1 quart of cold water. Mix together and dip a sponge or rag into the detergent solution. Rub into the areas where you placed the stain solution, as well as any other areas that are dirty. Rub the canvas with a soft brush dipped into the cleaning solution. Rinse the sponge with water and rinse any remaining soap or stain solution out of the canvas tote.

  3. 3

    Dip the entire canvas tote into a solution of cold soapy water if the bag has no dye or paint. Do not use hot water as this can shrink and misshape the bag. Swish the bag around in the solution until all dirt is removed from the bag. Rinse the bag with cold water until all the soap is removed.

  4. 4

    Wring the bag out gently by hand. Reshape the bag into its original shape and smooth out any wrinkles. Hang the bag from a clothesline using clothespins, or from your shower curtain rod. Allow the bag to dry for several hours until it is completely dry to the touch. This will take longer indoors than outdoors.

  5. 5

    Purchase a canvas waterproofing spray from a home supply store. These sprays are often used to protect awnings from dirt and bird droppings. They can either be silicone-based or fluoropolymer-based. Shake the can and follow all direction listed on the spray. Wear gloves and goggles and work outdoors. Spray the waterproofing spray on all sides of the canvas tote. Spray in one direction over the entire surface of the bag. Allow to dry, then spray an additional coat perpendicular to the direction that you sprayed the first coat. Allow to dry for 24 hours before using the bag.

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