2 Methods to Clean Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes make a great addition to any wardrobe. Its simple yet sleek look built from cotton or linen immediately made it a crowd favorite. But like any shoes made from fabric, canvas shoes can get easily soiled when used regularly. So how do you clean canvas shoes to make them look new?

Today, we’re sharing two methods to bring back its former glory! That includes a technique for delicate shoes and another for those sturdy ones.

Hand Washing Canvas Shoes

Hand washing is ideal if the canvas shoes have clips or sharp embellishments. It can save your washing machine from getting destroyed. Plus, with gentle cleaning, the accessories on the shoes stay intact.

For this method, you’ll need:

  • Old toothbrush
  • Liquid detergent
  • Cold water
  • Baking soda
  • Clean cloth

Step 1: Remove Dirt and Pretreat Stains

Remove Dirt and Pretreat Stains

Muddy shoes call for a quick rinse to remove big chunks of soil on the sole. But if stains are the problem, you need to pretreat them first.

Get a soft bristle brush and dip it in a heavy-duty detergent. Work over the stained spot, then leave it for 15 minutes to loosen up.

Step 2: Unlace the Shoes

Unlace the Shoes

To deep clean the surroundings of the eyelets, you need to unlace the shoe first. Then, create a cleaning mixture by combining water with a few drops of liquid detergent. Let the shoelace soak for 15-20 minutes while you clean the canvas.

Step 3: Brush the Soles

Brush the Soles

Although not often seen by anyone, cleaning the soles makes them feel brand new. It also prevents the continuous growth of bacteria if you plan to keep them indoors.

First, mix equal parts water and baking soda. Then, dip the toothbrush in the paste and scrub it evenly on the soles. Once no dirt is in sight, wipe the bottom with a clean cloth to remove any remaining cleaning solution or baking soda.

Step 4: Clean the Canvas

Clean the Canvas

Dip the toothbrush in a liquid detergent and cold water mixture. Use it to scrub the canvas in a circular motion while focusing on the discolored parts. Repeat brushing until all sides are clean.

Step 5: Rinse and Air Dry

Rinse and Air Dry

If you’re satisfied with the look, get a clean cloth and damp it in cold water. Wipe the soap residue while veering away from the inside.

Place the cleaned shoe in a warm, well-ventilated area, letting it air dry for a day or two. Then, rinse the shoelace and hang it to dry under indirect sunlight.

Machine Washing Canvas Shoes

Plain canvas shoes without leather design or fancy accessories can do well in a washer. With just the right setting and set-up, you’ll get your shoe cleaned like it’s fresh out of the box.

For this method, you’ll need:

  • Washing machine
  • Liquid detergent
  • Old toothbrush
  • Pillowcase
  • Two Towels
  • Chlorine or oxygenated bleach
  • Mesh laundry bag

Step 1: Prepare the Shoes

Prepare the Shoes

Nobody wants to end up with a dirty washer. So the first thing you need to do is to prepare the shoes by removing any mud or dirt. You can rinse the shoes with a garden hose or scrub them with a brush. For stubborn stains on the canvas, you can pretreat them by following the same method as hand washing.

Step 2: Use a Mesh Bag for the Lace

Use a Mesh Bag for the Lace

Detach the laces to prevent them from tangling in the washer. Then, soak it like the technique used in hand washing or place it in a mesh bag to go in the washer.

Step 3: Load the Washer

Load the Washer

Once you’ve prepared your canvas shoe, place it inside a pillowcase to protect it. Load it in the washer with two towels and the mesh bag with the lace. The towels will help balance the wash load to provide a better clean.

Step 4: Select the Proper Wash Cycle

Select the Proper Wash Cycle

You may choose between a regular or delicate wash cycle to clean your canvas shoes. Although there are some points you should remember:

  • Only wash your canvas shoes in warm or cold water.
  • Use a laundry detergent with bleach for white-colored shoes and oxygenated bleach for colored ones.
  • Never run your canvas shoes under a hot dryer.

Step 5: Air Dry

Air Dry

Once the cycle is done, stuff some newspaper or absorbent paper inside to help retain the shoe shape. But remember to replace it once in a while for faster insole drying. Then, place the shoe in a warm place, away from direct sunlight.

Here’s a video by DIY Life Tech showing how he cleaned his canvas TOMS.

How To Store Properly After Air Drying

Do you leave your shoes in the doorway after a long day at work? Or are you a sneakerhead that places it immediately on their respective boxes after a day of use? Whether you’re the former or the latter, knowing how to keep your shoes properly will help them live longer.

Short-Term Storage

You can buy a shoe rack or cabinet with an open front for your daily canvas footwear. It is easy to access while providing constant airflow in the insoles. And yes! Good air circulation is required to prevent unpleasant smells from forming in your shoes.

You can place the shoe rack in an entryway or a mudroom to prevent germs from spreading indoors. But you can also use a disinfecting mat to maintain a clean storage cabinet.

Long-Term Storage

Do you want the maximum protection for your canvas shoes? These two tools can do the trick! If you thought of a shoe storage box and a shoe tree, we consider you an expert in the industry.

The shoe storage box prevents specks of dust and sunlight from permeating your favorite footwear. But make sure that the canvas is dry before you store it long-term to prevent molds from growing.

Another trick is to use a shoe tree to avoid shoe distortion. But you can also use crumpled acid-free paper placed in the shoe, inside the insole, as a cheaper option. Acid-free paper helps maintain the ideal moisture level in the shoes, making them last longer.

Tips for Cleaning Canvas Shoes

Tips for Cleaning Canvas Shoes

Shoes made from fabrics have tiny spaces that can hold lots of dirt. Sometimes, we barely notice it because the shoes are always the last to go in. But like any tops or bottoms, keeping your footwear clean can also give a good impression.

So to keep neat from top to bottom, here are some tips to follow:

  1. Drying under direct sunlight can cause discoloration and excessive wear. Instead, place it indoors and near the fan. It might take days to dry (depending on the environment), but rest assured it’s the best option.
  2. When hand washing, avoid soaking the whole shoe in the water. If the shoe has accessories or leather designs, just use a damp cloth to wipe these areas, to keep them intact.
  3. Avoid using a dryer to speed up the process. It will only lessen the effect of glue. Also, it can make the shoe shrink.
  4. When working with muddy shoes, replace the water with detergent (if needed) to avoid soil mix-up.
  5. If you’re working with a delicate canvas, you can replace an old toothbrush with a sponge.
  6. Stubborn dirt is also present in laces. If it is not treated even after soaking, use a brush to tackle it.
  7. You can clean your canvas shoes once a week if you wear them regularly. But if it’s not heavily soiled, you can use a dry brush to remove the dirt.
  8. If detachable, remove the innersole before placing the shoes in the laundry. Inner sole features softer materials that can get damaged when placed in a washer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to remove yellow stains in white canvas shoes?

Create a paste by mixing one tbsp of baking soda, ½ tbsp of hydrogen peroxide, and ½ tbsp of warm water. Once it’s all combined, dip a soft brush and gently scrub the paste on the shoes. Make sure to do it in a circular motion to avoid damaging the fabric.

Hydrogen peroxide acts as a bleach to help whiten discolored spots while baking soda helps remove scuffs. Additionally, avoid placing it under direct heat. The shoe dye reacts with the ultraviolet light from the sun, causing white shoes to turn yellow.

2. Can you use bleach on canvas shoes?

Bleach diluted in water forms a gentle solution for your white shoes. Ideally, you need to mix one part bleach with six parts water to lessen the harsh chemicals. Then, pour a small amount on the stained part and let it soak for at least 15 minutes.

For colored canvas, choose a fabric stain remover with no bleach and let it soak for 2-3 minutes.

3. Does Magic Eraser clean canvas shoes?

From the name itself, the answer is yes! It can magically erase dirt from a shoe. All you need is to wet the eraser and buff out the mud on the canvas and sole. After wiping it clean with a cloth, you can do another round of cleaning by brushing it with mild soap. And voila! You can now air-dry it until ready to wear.


There are two methods to clean canvas shoes: hand washing and using a washer. Hand washing benefits fabrics that have delicate and sharp accessories. On the other hand, loading it in the washer is faster and can give you a deep clean. So get your shoes and asses what type of cleaning it needs.


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