How to Print on a Tote Bag

Tote bags have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their versatility, durability, and eco-friendliness. They are perfect for carrying groceries, books, and other items and can serve as a fashionable accessory. 

Personalizing your tote bag by printing a design on it is a great way to make it unique and express your style. This article will guide you through the process of how to print on a tote bag, including choosing the right tote bag, preparing it for printing, printing techniques, and post-printing considerations.

Choosing a Tote Bag for Printing

Types of Tote Bags

Various types of tote bags are available on the market, including:

  • Canvas
  • Cotton, jute
  • Non-woven tote bags

Canvas and cotton tote bags are the most commonly used for printing because of their durability and natural fiber content, which allows for high-quality printing. 

Jute tote bags are eco-friendly and have a rustic appearance, making them popular for environmentally conscious businesses. Non-woven tote bags are made of synthetic materials and are more affordable but are not as durable as canvas or cotton.

Material Considerations

When selecting a tote bag for printing, it is essential to consider the material’s texture and color. Textured materials, such as canvas or jute, may require more ink and pressure to achieve a clear print, while smoother materials, such as cotton, are easier to print on. Light-colored tote bags are ideal for printing, as the ink colors show up more vibrantly than on darker colors.


Before printing on a tote bag, it’s essential to consider the design’s size, color, and complexity. Simpler designs with fewer colors are easier to print and more cost-effective. If you use a logo, make sure it is in a vector format, allowing for better scaling and sharper printing quality.

Preparing the Tote Bag for Printing

Washing and Drying the Tote Bag

Washing and drying the tote bag before printing is crucial to remove any dirt, dust, or impurities that can affect the print quality. Use a mild detergent and cold water to avoid shrinking or damaging the fabric. Tumble dry the tote bag on low heat or air dry it.

Ironing the Tote Bag

Ironing the tote bag before printing helps to remove any wrinkles and creases that can interfere with the printing process. Use a warm iron and avoid ironing directly over any existing prints or designs.

Placing a Cardboard or Paper Inside the Tote Bag

Placing cardboard or paper inside the tote bag prevents ink from bleeding through to the other side of the bag. It also provides a smooth printing surface and helps keep the tote bag flat during the printing process.

Printing Techniques

Screen Printing

Screen printing is the most common and cost-effective method for printing on tote bags. It involves creating a stencil or screen of the design and using a squeegee to push ink through the screen onto the tote bag. Screen printing allows for precise color matching and can produce high-quality, long-lasting prints.

Heat Transfer Printing

Heat transfer printing involves printing the design onto a transfer paper and then using heat to transfer the image onto the tote bag. This method is ideal for printing intricate designs or images with many colors. Heat transfer printing is more expensive than screen printing but can produce high-quality, durable prints.

Direct-To-Garment Printing

Direct-to-garment printing is a relatively new printing method that involves printing the design directly onto the tote bag using a specialized printer. This method is ideal for printing photographs or designs with many colors and can produce high-quality, detailed prints. Direct-to-garment printing is more expensive than screen printing and may not be suitable for large quantities.

Post-printing Considerations

Drying the Printed Tote Bag

After printing, allow the tote bag to dry completely before handling or folding it. Depending on the printing method used, this can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight.

Curing the Print

If using screen printing or heat transfer printing, curing the print is essential to ensure the ink bonds properly with the fabric and does not fade or peel over time. Curing involves heating the tote bag at a high temperature for a specific amount of time, which varies depending on the ink and fabric used. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for curing the print to ensure the best results.

Washing and Caring for the Printed Tote Bag

To maintain the quality of the print, it’s important to wash and care for the tote bag correctly. Always wash the tote bag in cold water and avoid using bleach or fabric softeners, which can damage the print. Hang the tote bag to air dry, or tumble dry it on the reverse side to avoid damaging the print.

ALSO READ: How to Sew a Tote Bag With a Lining


Before you print on a tote bag, ensure you consider your personal style and preference. Choosing the right tote bag, preparing it for printing, using the appropriate printing technique, and post-printing considerations are all essential to ensure a successful and long-lasting print. By following these guidelines and taking care of your printed tote bag, you can enjoy a unique and functional accessory that reflects your personality and values.