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How to clean African print bags

How to clean African print bags


You can’t mention fashion in Africa without mentioning African prints or Ankara. It has become so popular, everyone has at least one piece of it in their wardrobe. Ankara fabrics are known for their very beautiful and vibrant colours and patterns. A characteristic that makes it possible to have an endless stream of unique combinations and styles from it when it comes to making clothing. But then, Ankara has evolved over the years with evolving fashion trends, from something just for making clothing to lots of fashion-related purposes. There are now clothing accessories like bags, shoes, bracelets, earrings and a lot of others made or designed with Ankara fabrics. School accessories even are not left out! There are Ankara school bags and Ankara coated books. So if you find yourself not to be a big fan of rocking Ankara wears, then you should try Ankara accessories, it’s a perfect piece for plain coloured clothes.


Woman carrying African print bags
View on @_thoche



Ankara wallet
Ankara wallets from @bybimz

View collection here


But there is one problem people have with keeping Ankara fabric accessories; they find it difficult to maintain. Ankara fabric accessories are not like some other fashion accessories that you can just wipe, soak or even wash clean and it stays the same. So for most people that do not have Ankara fabric accessories in their wardrobe, it is probably because they feel they can’t maintain it. Nobody wants to buy a beautiful and expensive fashion accessory looking all bright and attractive, only to end up dull and not too attractive anymore after you clean it. Exactly, a total waste right?.


Ankara Tassel purse
Tassel purse from



Ankara bag
The RUKKY bag from @_thoche


Cleaning your Ankara bag and other Ankara accessories is quite easy. The aim here is to get rid of dirt and stains and keep them clean as new without fading the bright colours of the fabric in the cleaning process. After all, Ankara fabric without its beautiful colours would not be worth the attention. So the following are the tips you need to know about how to clean your Ankara accessories properly.


What should know about cleaning Ankara bags

  • Do not wash your Ankara fabric bags with a washing machine or dryer. Easy work using a washing machine for keeping fabrics clean, but not when it comes to your Ankara fabric bag. The spinning and soaking can be harsh on the fabric, causing the colours to fade out. Aside from that, some Ankara fabric bags have leather interiors covered with Ankara fabric, and some are trimmed with leather on the edges. Some even have the hand and designs made out of metals, and metals don’t like water. So placing them in a washing machine will only help in getting them soaked in water, which will affect the leather by making them damp and corroding metal parts. Cleaning by hand is the best way to clean and maintain your Ankara fabric bags.
  • Instead of thorough washing, clean your Ankara fabric bag by using a soft brush or clean white piece of cloth to wipe the surface of the fabric instead. You don’t want your bag to be soaked in water.
  • For Ankara fabrics in general, using any form of detergent is not advisable since they usually have harsh chemicals or chemicals in high concentration that does not bode well with the dye pigments in the fabric. Instead, use bar soap or mild liquid soaps like handwash.
  • Add some quantity of salt to the water you want to use in cleaning. The chloride content of the salt will help to seal the colour of the fabric in, and also stop the soap from foaming excessively and attacking the colour pigments in the fabric.
  • Cleaning the whole material is not necessary. Treat just area that needs to be treated.
  • If after cleaning, you still have some tough stains that are proving impossible to go off with your soft touch, don’t scrub too hard, you might cause some damages. And do not bleach either, colours and bleach are not friends. Try using baking soda or an alternative like white vinegar that is not as harsh as bleach to get rid of stains on your Ankara fabric.


How to keep your Ankara fabrics from fading? (All you need to know).


Ankara Bucket bag
View bucket bag from @_alp_ha


How to clean Ankara bags

Below is how you clean your most cherished bags, from the interior, all the way down to the hardware and designs.


Cleaning the inside

Empty your Ankara fabric bag of its contents. I don’t have to tell you this step, you know already, so take it as a reminder.

Now open any part of the bag that is still closed, zippers, clasps and whatever type of closure it happens to have. Shake the bag well upside down to remove whatever dirt that might have gradually gathered there. If your bag happens to be the type that has another loosely attached fabric as the interior, pull the interior of the bag to the outside, if not, turn the fabric bag inside out if it is flexible enough. Then carefully clean the dust and dirt out.


Cleaning the bag exterior

Now, to begin cleaning, what you need is preferably a soft white cloth. If you can get two, better, you clean with one and rinse with one. But if you have just one, it will still work. Avoid using coloured cloth, they might stain by bleeding dye onto the bag fabric. If you don’t have one, you can use a soft sponge. Add water or damping the white cloth and apply soap. If you are using liquid soap, you should have diluted it in a little quantity of water already, so just dip the cloth inside. Now gently clean by wiping down the bag completely from top to bottom. You can do this in any way you want, left to right, or up to down scrubbing movement, so long as you don’t forget to gentle with your hands.

To rinse the bag, use the second white cloth or rinse the cleaning cloth, if you happen to be using just one, in clean water and then wipe away soap residue by wiping down the bag. 

Note: It is better to take a portion do the bag at a time, cleaning and rinsing at once.


For areas with tough stains. Dip a white cloth in the tough stain remover solution you are using, either white vinegar, baking soda or their alternatives, and blot heavily or dab the soiled areas. By this, I mean press against the area severally like you’re hitting it. The stain remover gets applied and pressed in, and at the same time the cleaning cloth soaks up some of the dissolved stains from the cloth. If it still does not come out easily, use a soft toothbrush dipped in the cleaning solution and scrub it out.

Don’t forget to rinse out the residual by wiping it down with a clean cloth.


Cleaning the bag designs and hardware

If your bag comes with some designs other than fabric, like metal, brass, etc. Clean them appropriately, depending on what it is made of. A dry cloth or a slightly damp cloth might just do the job for you in most cases.


Drying the bag

Air-dry the bag in a cool airy place away from direct sunlight or heat. Direct sunlight tends to make colours on Ankara fabric fade over time.

Do well to remember and check other articles on our website, you never know, it might be what you just need for your next outfit.


Written by Sene Bestman

Particular clingy on answering the questions that pops up everyday before stepping out - "Do I look okay"?
I believe that outfit might just be the right amount of confidence boost you needed.

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