How to Paint a Tote Bag

A tote bag is a large, versatile bag made from fabric and typically used for carrying groceries, books, and other essentials. It is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags and has become increasingly popular in recent years. 

If you have a plain tote bag and want to add some personal flair to it, painting it can be a fun and creative way to do so. This article will provide step-by-step instructions on how to paint a tote bag.

Materials Needed

Before you begin painting, you will need to gather the necessary materials. Here is a list of what you will need:

  • A plain tote bag made from natural fibers, such as cotton or canvas
  • Fabric paint or acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium
  • Paintbrushes in various sizes
  • Painter’s tape
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Palette or disposable plate
  • Water and paper towels for cleaning brushes

You can find these materials at most craft stores or online retailers.

Preparing the Tote Bag

Preparing the tote bag properly is crucial for ensuring the paint adheres properly and lasts long. Follow these steps to prepare your tote bag for painting:

  1. Wash the tote bag in cold water to remove any dirt or residue.
  2. Allow the tote bag to air dry completely. Do not use a dryer, as the heat can shrink or damage the fabric.
  3. Iron the tote bag to remove any wrinkles or creases.

Designing the Tote Bag

Once your tote bag is clean and dry, it’s time to start designing it. Here are some tips and tricks for creating a unique design:

  1. Use painter’s tape to create clean lines and geometric shapes.
  2. Sketch out your design lightly in pencil before painting to avoid mistakes.
  3. Experiment with different painting techniques, such as stenciling, stamping, or splattering.
  4. Look for inspiration for design ideas online, such as Pinterest or Instagram.

Painting the Tote Bag

Now it’s time to paint your tote bag. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Mix your paint with fabric medium according to the instructions on the bottle.
  2. Pour a small amount of paint onto your palette or disposable plate.
  3. Use a paintbrush to apply the paint to the tote bag, following your design.
  4. Use different brush sizes and techniques to add texture and depth to your design.
  5. Let the paint dry completely before adding additional layers or colors.

ALSO READ: How to Upcycle a Tote Bag

Drying and Curing the Tote Bag

After you have finished painting your tote bag, allowing the paint to dry and cure properly is important. Here are some tips:

  1. Let the tote bag dry for at least 24 hours before using it.
  2. Place the tote bag in a well-ventilated area to allow the paint to cure completely.
  3. Do not wash the tote bag for at least a week to ensure the paint is fully cured.
  4. Store the tote bag in a cool, dry place to prevent the paint from cracking or fading.


Knowing how to paint a tote bag is a fun and easy way to add personality to a plain bag. By following these step-by-step instructions, you can create a unique and personalized tote bag that you can use for years to come. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different designs and painting techniques; remember to allow the paint to dry and cure properly for the best results. Happy painting.