How to clean canvas shoes
How to clean canvas shoes

Table of Contents

Canvas shoes are generally one of the most comfortable footwear. Due to this comfort factor, we wear them more often and they tend to get dirty too. 

Does that mean you can’t look good while being comfy? No, it should not be like that. We will tell you how to clean canvas shoes and keep your look tidy. 

Pre-treat The Stain Before Cleaning The Canvas Shoe

Treat the stain before you clean the canvas shoe
Treat the stain before you clean the canvas shoe

The most common stains that a shoe can get comes from mud or excessive dirt. In case your pair also got stained, try removing the stain before you move to clean canvas shoes.

You can use any of these easily available products at home as stain removers:

  1. Nail Polish Remover
  2. Hand Sanitizer
  3. Hair Spray
  4. Rubbing Alcohol
  5. Laundry detergent

You will need the following things to remove stains using any of the above-mentioned products:

  • Q-tip
  • Cotton ball or cotton pad
  • Tissue or White Cloth

Now, follow this process:

  • Do a patch test: Apply 2-3 drops of the stain remover of your choice in an inconspicuous area of the shoes for a patch test. Rub gently and wait for 10 minutes to see how the shoe fabric reacts. If it does not gets faded or rough then you can go ahead.
  • Apply the stain remover: Now pour 5-6 drops of nail paint remover/ rubbing alcohol/ on the cotton ball. In the case of hair spray or liquid sanitizer (which generally comes in a spray bottle), you have to spray enough quantity to dampen the cotton ball. Now, rub the cotton ball gently on the stain.

For removing stains with laundry detergent, you can pour 2-3 drops of liquid detergent on the stain and rub it gently using a brush. If you are using powder-based detergent then sprinkle it to cover the stained area pour 4-5 drops of water to make a thick consistency paste and rub gently with a brush. Keep pressing the cotton ball or brush with slight pressure. Continue doing this in one motion until the stain lightens or vanishes.

  • Get rid of the residue: Use a tissue or clean white cloth to wipe off the residue of stain remover from the shoe.

Once the stain is gone, you can clean canvas shoes by hand washing them or using a washing machine. Let’s see how:

How To Clean Canvas Shoes Without A Machine

Step 1: Gather every needed for shoe cleaning

Check out everything that you will need to clean canvas shoes. Keep everything in one place so that you can clean canvas shoes without any hassle. Here is the list:

  • Shoe cleaning brush
  • Dish Soap or Detergent
  • Baking Soda
  • Soft Clean Cloth / Microfiber cloth (white)
  • Disinfectant (optional)
  • Sponge

Step 2: Remove dirt and debris

Remove dirt with a brush to clean canvas shoes
Remove dirt, dust and debris with a brush to clean canvas shoes

You can simply use a dry brush and remove all the loose dirt from your shoes. Make sure you use any soft-bristled brush on the outsole and midsole of the shoe too, and not just on the uppers.

Step 3: Prepare a cleaning solution

This step is simple yet crucial. Take some warm water (preferably 200 ml). Add your regular detergent or dish soap (mild). And your shoe cleaner is ready.

If you have to clean shoes that are light in colour, you can also try cleaning paste. For this, you will have to mix equal parts of water and baking soda together. The quantity should be enough to prepare a paste-like structure (preferably 2 tbsp. of each). You can also add laundry disinfectant to this liquid. Add it as per the instructions on the label as different disinfectants have varied formulations. Hence, you should strictly follow the guidelines.

Step 4: Hand wash the removable parts

Generally, the only removable that people wash while cleaning shoes is – LACES. They forget or sometimes neglect that some canvas shoes have removable soles too. If your shoes have removable soles, then go ahead and hand wash them. 

Apply the cleaning solution you’ve prepared to the soles. And leave the laces in a detergent solution to let them soak while you clean the soles. Rub the soles using a brush gently. Then rinse them with cool water. Now take out the laces from the detergent solution and brush them off too. Rinse the laces with clean water afterwards. You can either hang them to get air dry or dab dry using a soft microfiber cloth. If you prefer to dab and dry the laces or soles, then make sure you do not use a coloured cloth. It may bleed colour on your shoes and ruin their look. 

What you should know: It is very important to dry the removable items completely. Never put wet soles or laces back in your shoes. 

Step 5: Clean & rinse canvas shoe

Dip a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush or sponge in the shoe cleaning liquid that you have prepared and apply it to the inside and upper portion of the shoes. If you have a paste to clean canvas shoe then apply using a small brush. Rub the brush or sponge in a circular motion. 

Repeat the process to clean canvas shoes completely. You can keep doing it until the surface appears to be shinier or cleaner than before. Then, take a clean white cloth. Wipe away the soapy residue.

Now, take another clean cloth, and soak it in freshwater. Wipe away your shoe again. Repeat the process unless you see clean water dripping from the cloth. 

Pro-tip: We suggest you prefer hand washing as frequent agitation of the washing machine may damage the shoe fabric. And it might look dull or worn out after consistent wash cycles.

How To Clean Canvas Shoes In A Machine

Clean canvas shoes in a washing machine
Clean canvas shoes in a washing machine

Separate the removable parts

Take out the laces and removable soles (if any). Put them in a mesh laundry bag. And put them in the washer. 

Add cleaning products to the washer

Add your regular detergent to the dispenser tray. You can also add bleach to brighten the colour of your shoes. Oxy bleach is added for coloured canvas shoes and chlorine bleach works on white shoes. 

If you want you can add laundry disinfectant directly to the water as well. These disinfectants come with an instruction manual. You will have to use them as per the instructions on the label. 

Select the right water temperature & wash cycle

You can use warm or cold water as per your choice. Set the wash cycle on “normal” or “medium” and run the machine on a lower spin cycle. 

Caution: If your shoes have any leather or suede trim, beading, rope soles, etc. you must not wash them in machines. The agitation of the washer and too much exposure to water will damage such shoes.

How To Dry Canvas Shoes

Clean canvas shoes must be dried properly
Clean canvas shoes must be dried properly

Just like it is better to line dry clothes instead of using a dryer, it is better to air dry shoes too. Many people put their clean canvas shoes in the dryer. This should be avoided as it may damage the shoe fabric. 

You can take a microfiber cloth (white), and blot the entire shoe after cleaning. This way a major chunk of soapy moisture will get absorbed in the cloth. You can repeat the process if you still see soapy residue on your shoes. Then, air-dry your canvas shoes. 

Your clean shoes can easily air dry at room temperature (unless you don’t live in a humid area). Hang them at a place where they don’t come in direct contact with dust, dirt, debris, etc. And make sure they are dried completely before you wear them. 

Wearing wet shoes may cause issues like itching in your feet. Also, they will invite even more dirt in a wet state. In general, shoes need at least 8-10 hours to dry fully. So, plan your cleaning sessions accordingly. Always ensure to dry your clean shoes properly.

What If You Cannot Clean Canvas Shoes At Home

When you must dry clean canvas shoes
When you must dry clean canvas shoes

If you have some pairs that already have a changed appearance due to long-settled mud, dirt, scuffs and stains, you can consider sending them to dry cleaners near you. Because of:

  • Special chemicals: They use pro-fabric chemicals to clean shoes thoroughly. Then, they process shoes in high-quality machines. Both of these ensure zero damage to shoe fabric. You will get spotless clean shoes that will smell good and enhance your look instantly.
  • Specific approach: Different fabrics require different approaches while shoe cleaning. For example, the ways to clean leather shoes are slightly different than cleaning canvas shoes. Dry cleaners know how to treat different types of shoe fabrics properly. So, in case you don’t have time to clean canvas shoes at home, you can visit dry cleaners without a doubt. 
  • Shoe restoration: It is tough to see your favourite canvas getting worn out, torn or faded. No matter how much you try you might not be able to bring them to their original state by home cleaning. However, the good part is that they can be restored by professionals. Hence, even if your canvas shoes are in their worst condition, you can expect a complete makeover after shoe dry cleaning service

Key Takeaway

It is better to clean canvas shoes at regular intervals. If you will keep a huge gap in cleaning sessions and wait for them to get extremely dirty, you can lose their original shine forever. Because sometimes the dust, dirt and stains set strongly and it makes the shoe appear dull. 

When it comes to cleaning you should first remove the stains. You can use nail polish remover, hair spray, hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol for this purpose. After stain removal, you can move to clean the canvas shoe thoroughly. 

There are two ways to do so: hand wash & machine wash. We recommended you go for a hand wash. In either of the processes, you will have to take out removable parts like laces and soles. Clean them separately. Let them dry completely before putting them back in their place. Thereafter, you can follow the cleaning steps explained above. Next, you should prefer to air-dry your clean canvas shoes. Just in case you can’t clean them at home, it is okay to get shoe dry cleaning. Because experts can clean and even restore your favourite pair. We hope that this article will be helpful when you will clean canvas shoes.

Frequently asked questions on how to clean canvas shoes

You should remove the mud by using a brush or by rubbing the shoe against the floor. You can also rinse off the mud in a sink or use a garden hose. Do not put muddy shoes in a washer. It will get dissolve in water and delve inside your shoe making it even dirtier. Also, it may clog the washer and cause malfunctioning of your machine. Once the mud is gone, you can clean canvas shoes as explained in the article above.

You can add chlorine bleach to the washer before putting your white shoes in the washer. Chlorine bleach is used to brighten whites. In case you are hand washing your shoes then you can add bleach to the water. Make sure you wear rubber gloves after adding bleach. Apart from this, you can follow the processes explained above.

No, it is not hard to clean canvas shoes. You can clean them at home by using your regular laundry detergent. Even stain removal can be easily done by using easily available products like nail paint remover, hairspray, sanitiser, etc. You can follow the step-wise guide in the blog and make the cleaning process hassle-free.

You can use chlorine bleach. Mix 1 tablespoon of bleach to 4 tablespoons of water. You can increase the quantity depending on the shoe surface area. The key is to keep the proportion 1:4. Take an old toothbrush, and dip it in the mixture. Rub it all over the shoe gently. If there are any stains on the shoe, pre-treat them first.

It depends on the amount of water. Canvas shoes can tolerate contact with water. However, too much water can cause the glue used in soles to seep out. Hence, you should not expose your canvas to excess water. For example, you should refrain from washing them in the machine or you shouldn’t wear them in rain. Canvas shoes are made of fabric. But it is not ideal to wash them in a machine as the glue in the soles may seep out with excessive water.

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