How to Clean Burlap

    by Kristie Karns

    About the Author

    Kristie Karns has written and published many articles online, both for Demand Studios and for, covering a range of topics. Ms Karns has published a book, dozens of poems, photographs and digital artworks over the past twenty years and is always working on several novels at once.


    Burlap is risky to launder. Real jute burlap falls apart when soaked in water and can only survive gentle spot cleaning. Synthetic burlap shrinks, frays, and leaves massive amounts of lint in your washing machine. It also wrinkles profusely and is difficult to smooth. There are a few techniques, however, that can remove odors and stains without ruining the fabric or your washing machine. Patience is also necessary, since many methods require several days to work.

    Things You'll Need

    • Mild detergent
    • Clean towels or rags

    Shake the burlap out to remove dust and dirt.

    Hang the fabric out on a clothesline in the sun for several days. The fresh air will remove odors and the sunlight will bleach stains. Do not put wet burlap out in the sun, and don't let the burlap get wet while it's outside.

    Sprinkle baking soda on to the burlap and let it sit for two to three days. Baking soda will absorb foul odors.

    Shake the burlap to remove the baking soda, beating it gently if necessary.

    Spot clean remaining stains by applying a small amount of gentle fabric detergent or stain remover with a damp rag.

    Wash synthetic burlap by hand in a sink filled with cool water, using gentle fabric detergent designed for delicate fabrics.

    Rinse the burlap thoroughly with clear water.

    Wring the fabric gently, avoiding wrinkles as much as possible.

    Lay the fabric out flat, smooth out any wrinkles let it dry completely.

    • Test a small scrap piece of burlap in water and gentle detergent to see how the fabric will hold up under soap and water if you are unsure whether your burlap is jute or synthetic.
    • Don't use fabric softener or harsh chemical cleaners on burlap.