How to Clean Canvas Shoes in 5 Steps

Aug 27, 2023

how to clean canvas shoes

Canvas shoes are an essential fashion staple for their comfort and versatility. From casual walks in the park to high-energy activities, these durable shoes are up for anything. However, regular usage leads to the accumulation of dirt, grime, and scuffs. Keeping them pristine is a real challenge, but fret not—this guide will walk you through the art of cleaning canvas shoes in 5 detailed steps.

Understanding Canvas Shoes: A Brief Overview

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s essential to understand what canvas shoes are made of. Generally woven from cotton or linen, these shoes are lightweight but durable. While the fabric is naturally absorbent, it’s also surprisingly resilient, which means it can withstand a good scrubbing without falling apart.

Step 1: Preliminary Inspection and Preparation

Materials Needed:

  • Soft Cloth
  • Soft-bristled Brush
  1. Dust Off Surface Dirt: Start by knocking the soles together to get rid of loose dirt and then use a soft cloth or a soft-bristled brush to wipe off any remaining surface grime.
  2. Remove the Laces: Detach any laces and wash them separately to ensure a thorough cleaning.
  3. Inspect for Stains: Look for specific stained areas that might require extra attention during the washing process.

Step 2: Pre-treatment of Stains

Materials Needed:

  • Laundry Detergent or Stain Remover
  • Soft Cloth
  1. Apply Detergent: Put a small amount of detergent or stain remover on the stained area.
  2. Let it Sit: Allow the detergent to set in for at least 15 minutes to break down the stain molecules.
  3. Light Scrubbing: Use a soft cloth to lightly scrub the stain away. Repeat if necessary.

Step 3: Hand Washing for Precision

Materials Needed:

  • Bucket or Basin
  • Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Soft-bristled Brush or Sponge
  1. Prepare the Cleaning Solution: Mix a capful of liquid laundry detergent in a bucket or basin filled with warm water.
  2. Dip and Scrub: Immerse the shoes in the solution and use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to scrub them gently.
  3. Focus on Problem Areas: Pay extra attention to the soles and any stubborn stains.

Step 4: Rinsing and Drying

Materials Needed:

  • Fresh Water
  • Towel
  1. Rinse Thoroughly: Use fresh water to rinse off the soap thoroughly.
  2. Towel Dry: Use an absorbent towel to remove excess water from the shoes.
  3. Air Dry: Place the shoes in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight, to dry naturally.

Step 5: Post-cleaning Maintenance

Materials Needed:

  • Shoe Tree or Old Newspapers
  • Fabric Protector Spray (Optional)
  1. Shape Retention: To retain the shape, stuff the shoes with old newspapers or use a shoe tree.
  2. Optional Waterproofing: If desired, spray a fabric protector to make your shoes more resilient to future stains.

Maintenance and Care Tips

  • Weekly Cleaning: For daily wear, weekly cleaning is ideal.
  • Storage: Store your canvas shoes in a clean, dry place. Using a fabric bag can significantly reduce dust accumulation.
  • Fabric Care: Always opt for mild cleaning solutions to maintain the fabric quality.


Cleaning canvas shoes may seem like a chore, but with these easy-to-follow steps, it becomes a breeze. So don your newly-refreshed pair and step out in style!

Commonly Asked Questions:

1. How often should I clean my canvas shoes?

  • The frequency depends on usage. For daily wear, consider cleaning them once a week to prevent dirt build-up. If worn less frequently, a thorough clean every month or at the end of the season is sufficient.

2. Can I machine wash my canvas shoes?

  • Yes, you can machine wash canvas shoes unless they have leather or suede detailing. Remove the laces and place the shoes in a mesh bag. Use a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Always air dry post-wash.

3. What kind of detergent should I use for canvas shoes?

  • A gentle, fragrance-free liquid laundry detergent is ideal for canvas shoes. This ensures effective cleaning without causing any potential harm to the fabric.

4. Can I use bleach on white canvas shoes?

  • Using bleach is risky as it can weaken the fabric and cause yellowing. If you must, dilute it heavily and apply sparingly only on the white areas.

5. How do I keep the shape of my canvas shoes while drying?

  • Stuffing the shoes with old newspapers or towels will help maintain their shape. You can also use shoe trees for better results.

6. How do I remove stubborn stains from canvas shoes?

Pre-treat the stain with a mixture of laundry detergent and warm water. Let it sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing. For oil-based stains, cornstarch can be effective.

7. Is it safe to dry canvas shoes in the sun?

  • Avoid direct sunlight as it can cause the colour to fade. Opt for a shaded, well-ventilated area for air drying.

8. Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process?

  • It’s not recommended, as high heat can warp the shape of the shoe and weaken the glue holding it together. Air drying is the safest option.

9. What household items can I use to clean canvas shoes?

  • A mixture of baking soda and white vinegar can be a potent cleaning solution. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the mixture onto the shoes.

10. How do I clean the rubber soles of canvas shoes?

  • Use a mixture of dish soap and water along with a stiff brush to scrub the rubber soles. Wipe off with a clean damp cloth.

11. Can I use fabric conditioner on canvas shoes?

  • Avoid fabric softeners as they can leave a residue on the fabric, which can attract more dirt.

12. How to store canvas shoes to prevent them from getting dirty?

  • Store them in a clean, dry place, preferably in a fabric shoe bag or on a shoe rack to prevent dust accumulation.

13. Can I use a magic eraser on canvas shoes?

  • Magic Erasers work well on the rubber parts of the shoe but use caution on the fabric to avoid potential damage.

14. How do I keep my canvas shoes smelling fresh?

  • Sprinkle some baking soda inside the shoes and let it sit overnight. Shake out the excess before wearing them again.

15. Can I waterproof my canvas shoes?

  • Yes, you can use a fabric protector spray designed for canvas material. Apply as per the instructions and allow to dry completely before wearing.

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