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Tote Bag Printing: 15 Ways to Make It Last

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We have all seen the effects of wear on printed items. Without proper care, a design can crack, peel off or fade. However, you can considerably increase its lifespan with these easy tips. The two main areas we will cover are washing and storing. When washing, it is important to use cold water and soft cleaning products. As for storing your tote, make sure to put it away in a cold and dry place. Keep the location of the design in mind and fold around it.

Tote bag printing is on the verge now. It is a great technique to make a plain tote truly yours. Also, it is an efficient promotional product. We are offering digital and screen printing services to help our clients have a unique statement piece. To access this, click the “With Logo” button when selecting an item.

How to Wash a Printed Tote Bag


To ensure the longevity of a tote, you need to take good care of it. Washing is an important part of the process, not to mention that it also protects your health. The fabric can pick up a lot of bacteria through daily use. However, you might be wondering how tote bag printing figures into the equation. In the following we will go through the do’s and don’ts of the washing process for printed items.

1. Try to Keep It Clean

No matter how careful you are, your printed tote bag will be exposed to bacteria, and it will get dirty. Still, you can take a few simple steps to help keep the fabric a bit cleaner. This way, you can significantly decrease the frequency of washing and avoid exposing the print to the process. 

  • Avoid putting your bag on the ground. Instead, hang it up or set it on a chair. 
  • Avoid placing it in the trunk of a car. This is an environment that favors bacteria to develop, since the temperature can get very high. 
  • If you store liquids, make sure the container is secured.
  • If you carry food, make sure that it is properly contained.
  • Avoid wearing dark clothes that bleed when wearing a light-colored fabric bag, to avoid any color transfer. 

2. Spot Cleaning


This is a great technique to protect your print while keeping the fabric clean. If there is a dirty spot on the tote, target only this. Dampen a soft washcloth or sponge in cold water and use a bit of soap or soft cleaning detergent. Wipe the area in circular motions repeatedly until the stain fades away. Then rinse thoroughly with cold water until all the cleaning product is out of the fabric.

3. Wash Periodically

While tote bag printing does personalize an item to your liking, the design requires ongoing care. The frequency of washes is determined by a number of things. It depends a lot on what you use the bag for and how often. 

For example, if it meets your daily shopping needs, some experts recommend cleaning it after each trip. If this seems a bit excessive, or if you want to avoid over-exposing the print to the washing process, try to do it at least once a week. The products you purchase carry bacteria on them, which can transfer to the fabric and from there to other surfaces as well. It is ideal to have a couple of totes that you use on rotation. 

Another factor that determines the frequency of washes is the period between uses, since fabrics gather bacteria during their time in storage. The longer they are not in use, the more time they have to build up bacteria. So, if you take out your favorite bag, clean it before you hit the town.

4. Consider the Fabric


How you wash a printed tote bag is mainly determined by the material. Adapting the cleaning method to the fabric type is a great way to protect the design as well. First, let us have a quick reminder of cleaning fabrics used for totes. When in doubt, check if the item has a tag attached to it, with washing and care instructions.

  • Canvas: can be machine washed or cleaned by hand. Check out our easy guide on How to Machine Wash a Canvas Tote Bag to ensure that you follow all the special care tips.
  • Cotton: when washing cotton, it is essential to use cold water to prevent the material from shrinking.
  • Burlap: To dive deeper into cleaning tips and tricks, visit our full maintenance guide for burlap. 
  • Polyester: you can wash polyester bags by hand or the washing machine. Go to our quick guide for more detailed instructions.

5. Hand Wash Vs. Machine Washing


When facing this dilemma, refer back to the fabric and let that dictate your course of action. As for the print itself, both are viable options. However, hand washing is the more delicate and protective course of action. Nevertheless, you can safely clean the item in a washing machine, as long as you follow the care tips listed below. 

6. Turn It Inside Out

Whenever you wash a printed item, always turn it inside out. This way, you will shelter the ink from brushing against less fabric during the process. A simple trick like this goes a long way in securing the longevity of the tote bag printing process. 

7. Use Cold Water

Always use cold water! A low temperature will not only protect the fabric but the print as well. Hot water can cause damage to the material, or it may cause the ink to crack or lift. This is also recommended when you hand wash the tote bag, although it can be rather unpleasant.

8. Avoid Using Harsh Cleaning Products


Harsh cleaning products can cause damage to the design, so avoid these at all cost. If you have used an item for tote bag printing, experiment with different lighter alternatives until you find the right one. 

9. Air-Dry

We recommend air-drying custom tote bags. This way, you will avoid exposing the design to damage from exposure to heat or rubbing against other materials while in the tumble dry cycle. Leaving your item to dry naturally might be a bit time consuming, so make sure to prepare in advance, if you have plans with the tote. 

10. Iron With Caution

Using an iron will give the bag a crisp fresh feel. However, tote bag printing leaves the design susceptible to extreme heat. Set the iron on medium or even low temperature to avoid heat exposure. Always turn the bag inside out! This way, the print does not come in direct contact with the hot iron.

How to Store a Printed Tote Bag


If you are not planning on using your bags for a while, consider storing them away. This way, you will keep the bags clean and crisp until they are ready to resurface. Remember to put them in a dry and cool space to protect the fabric and print from exposure to bacteria. 

11. Flat or Upright

Placing your printed tote bags away in a flat or upright position will prevent the fabric from wrinkling. Therefore, you will always have a crisp tote ready to go and avoid the hassle of repeated ironing.

12. Fold Strategically


Tote bag printing helps you express yourself through your fashion. It is only natural that you want to protect these statement pieces from decay. When storing a higher number of totes, you can save some space by folding them strategically. Although, this option might lead to a few crinkles in the fabric along the folding lines. 

Folding a printed bag should also take into account the layout of the design. Avoid bending the material on the logo or image; this might cause it to crack. Instead, carefully fold around the print. 

13. Fill It With Tissue Paper

Some suggest filling the bag with tissue paper before putting it out of sight for a while. This will help preserve the shape of the tote. It will also keep the printed area straight, thus preventing any unwanted folds that might cause damage. However, there are a few downsides to this method. 

Firstly, it is not quite the most eco-friendly alternative, but you can find a way around this. For example, you could try reusing old newspapers. Also, if you have many bags to store, they will take up a lot of space. 

14. Avoid Plastic Bags for Storage 

Particularly if you are storing a large number of custom totes, you might be tempted to use a bag for them. This helps keep all your items in one place and provides easy access to them. Also, it protects the fabric from contact with other items or products stored in the same space.

However, avoid using plastic bags. There are several reasons for this. Besides being harmful to the environment, they also trap moisture, which might lead to mold. While the heat trapped inside by the plastic favors the growth of bacteria. 

15. Use Laundry Bags for Storage



Instead, you can safely rely on canvas or cotton laundry bags to store away your totes. These materials prevent dust from building up and allow proper ventilation. When placing your bags inside, be careful how you fold or roll them up to avoid any strain on the print space.

Nothings Lasts Forever

Tote bag printing is a great technique to personalize an item and make it truly represent you. It is only natural you would want to enjoy this valuable product forever. However, there is no tip or trick for that. Like all other things, customized tote bags have a finite life cycle. The best you can hope for is to extend the period of use for your precious item.