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How to wash a tote bag

A pair of tote bags used by a woman

We love our tote bags for all kinds of purposes, rain or shine! Your totes, and also whatever you’ve managed to accumulate in them, may have come in contact with unwanted dirt or grime, so washing them on a regular basis is a good idea. While these reusable tote bags come in a variety of materials such as nylon, jute, cotton and plastic, they should be washed frequently—using different methods depending on the material.

Why you need to wash your tote bags

We take our totes to the beach, to go grocery shopping, to the gym or track to carry our athletic gear in, sailing…you name it! They can easily collect dirt, food residue and bad smells over time.

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How frequently should I wash my tote bags?

  • To wash a tote bag properly depends on what you use the bag for, how often you use it and where is it stored when not being used.
  • If you use your tote bags as reusable grocery bags, it's best to wash them after each shopping trip. That's because meat, fruits and vegetables can leave behind unwanted grime and odors after multiple trips to the grocery store.
  • Even if you don't use your tote bags every day, it's still important to wash them before their next trip out on the town or to the beach. Even just sitting around, they can gather dust, dirt and bad smells.

Where do I store my tote bags?

  • After you wash a tote bag, pick an airy and clean spot to store your bags.
  • Consider stuffing a clean tote with tissue paper to help it retain its shape and keep the air flowing while being stored.

How to clean a tote bag

  • Fabric totes: For fabric tote bags, you can simply clean them in the washing machine by pretreating stains, such as with Persil® ProClean® Stain Fighter, then washing in cold water on a delicate setting. Let the bag air dry outside or near a window.
  • Jute totes: If you must wash jute (a kind of burlap) bags, hand wash separately in cool water using a mild detergent. Jute fabrics or burlap can be brittle so it must be handled gently. Do not wring or twist the wet fabric. Burlap should always be washed alone because it can shed fibers. Air dry.
  • Plastic totes: Use a bucket of warm water containing some light detergent and scrub with a soft brush. This works wonders to maintain the essence of a plastic tote.

We hope you enjoyed our tips on how to wash a tote bag. Don’t forget to check out our other cleaning tips for items that get a lot of wear such as how to wash a hat, the best way to wash your shoes and how to remove bad smells from your dishwasher.

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