How to Wash Coffee Sacks and Not Ruin Them in the Process

I recently scored 20+ burlap coffee sacks on Craigslist for $20.  That’s $1 a piece, if you do the math, which I did, because I couldn’t believe my luck!!  Needless to say, I will have several coffee sack projects coming up soon, some of which are in the works right now.  But before I got down to using the coffee sacks for projects, I knew I wanted to wash them to make then softer, less smelly, and easier to work with.  After gaining experience with dying burlap and washing burlap, I took all of what I learned into consideration to make sure that when I washed these coffee sacks, I wouldn’t end up ruining them.  Hey, 20 bucks is 20 bucks!

I have to thank Bliss from Bliss Ranch for mentioning her coffee sack washing experience, here.  She has several pretty darn cool coffee sack projects, like these coffee sack pillows.  So, believe me, I heeded her warning when I considered how to wash my newly purchased bundle of coffee sacks.  


How to wash coffee sacks and not ruin your coffee sacks in the process!


Hand wash and rinse coffee sacks 

If at all possible, do NOT wash your coffee sacks in the washing machine.  Coffee sacks are usually not very big and can easily fit into a bucket for hand washing.  A tablespoon of laundry soap in a bucket should be enough.  I washed, then rinsed each coffee sack two times using the hand wash-bucket method.  This process can be repeated more times if desired.

Remove excess water on the spin cycle or towel dry

Although hand washing and rinsing the coffee sacks is easy enough, removing the excess water is another story.  I put my coffee sacks right into the washing machine on the SPIN CYCLE ONLY to remove the excess water.

Another way, that can remove the excess water is by rolling the coffee sack into a dry towel and then stepping on the towel back and forth, so that the towel soaks up most of the water.

Yet another way is to hang the coffee sack somewhere that it can drip dry. (This method will take the longest, no doubt.)



Getting the wrinkles out

My coffee sacks accumulated a lot of wrinkles as the burlap dried.  Once the burlap sacks were almost dry, I turned my iron to the “linen” selection and was able to iron our all of the wrinkles.



I also used the steam option on my iron with distilled water.  It took some elbow grease, but I was able to make them look almost like they did before I ever washed them.

Note: iron temperatures do vary, so it’s good practice to test out the temperature that works well on the burlap when you start.



Can you put coffee sacks in the dryer?

To speed up the drying process, I did put some of my coffee sacks in the dryer for about 5-10 minutes.  I did not get any damage and it really did get the burlap much dryer; however, dryers can vary, so I made sure to test one out first before throwing several more in the dryer.

Of course, I still had to follow the ironing process above to get all the wrinkles out.


Sneak peak of next project

Here is a quick peek at what I’m currently working on.  Yes, I have decoupaged the burlap coffee sack to the drawer.  This was scary to try, but so far, so good.  I definitely think washing and softening the burlap before trying to decoupage it to a door or drawer made this step easier.

Recap on how to clean coffee sacks

All in all I was able to get rid of most of the burlap smell with this washing process.  I did still notice some smell from the ink and I don’t think that the coffee sacks were nearly as soft after the process like the burlap was when I tried that method.

– Coffee sacks were a little softer and more pliable

– The ink did not seem to fade at all, or very minimally

– No shredding or shrinking occurred

– All of the different coffee sacks brands seemed to have different weaves of burlap, so some were softer than others to begin with, etc…

– Standard, genuine burlap coffee sacks were used for this process

See how to wash and dry burlap, here.

See how to dye burlap, here.

Off to relax with a cup of coffee.  Have an awesome weekend! ~ Amy


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19 Responses to How to Wash Coffee Sacks and Not Ruin Them in the Process

  1. Amy | Canary Street Crafts February 8, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

    These are gorgeous! What a fantastic find, and great tips for washing!

  2. Danni@SiloHillFarm February 9, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    Leave it to Bliss to give some great tips! Can’t wait to see what you’re making girl!

  3. Feral Turtle February 10, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    What a deal…..I didn’t even know that coffee came in burlap sacks!! I bet they smelled coffee heavenly! Love your sign Amy. I can’t wait to see all of your creations.

  4. Donna Wilkes February 23, 2015 at 7:41 am #

    Thanks, Amy! I have stacks of used burlap to get clean.

    • Amy February 23, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

      I think you’ll find your stacks of burlap a little softer and easier to work once you clean it, Donna, good luck!!

  5. Glenda Sullivan March 1, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

    Thanks for the post! I just bought a half dozen and washed 2 in my washing machine and colors faded terribly. I will try it way next time. Thanks again!

    • Amy March 2, 2015 at 5:24 am #

      Hi Glenda,
      I noticed that some of the ink washed out while hand washing, but it wasn’t very noticeable at all. I couldn’t see a difference on the sack, just that there was some ink in the water. Hopefully you will have better results with this method. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      • Wena January 22, 2017 at 9:18 am #

        I usually put salt in cold water when I wash coloured material. It keeps the colour clear. Just maybe the burlap will reacts to this method in the same way.

  6. crystal gibson August 10, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    I found a ton of huge burlap coffee sacks at the Mighty Dollar for $1. Needless to say I had my car loaded down. I am going to have to wash them using your tips. I am going to try to make curtains and a table runner.

  7. Patty October 15, 2016 at 8:42 am #

    Thank you so much for your expertise. I just purchased a bunch of sacks and most are pretty dirty! I had some prior that I put in the washing machine (duh!) and they faded!! I am doing this today. Again, thank you. Now, all I need to do is figure out how to thread my sewing machine so I can try my luck at making a tote out of a sack!!! yikes!!!

    • Amy October 15, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

      Patty, So glad these instructions helped and good luck with making your totes 🙂

  8. ShannaMade March 17, 2017 at 12:19 am #

    I have some coffee bags I want to make a purse out of. I had a purse however that I bought that got worn very quickly (see photo ) Do you have any tips for keeping this from happening?

    • Amy March 18, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

      Hey Shanna,
      I wish I had a good answer for you on this one. The only thing I can think of would be to add more ( or additional lines of) stitching throughout the pattern so that the fabric has less space between the stitching. I’m hoping that makes sense and I honestly don’t know if it would help the burlap from fraying, but it could be worth a try. Best of luck if you give it a go. XO Amy

  9. ShannaMade March 18, 2017 at 10:13 pm #

    Thank you!


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