How to clean canvas shoes

Baby shoes hanging

When it comes to shoes, one of the most populous of the kinds of shoes available is canvas shoes. Shoes like Toms and Ked.

There’s no reason not to own them actually because they are some of the simplest kinds of shoes (Toms, for instance, has one of the flattest soles in shoes and has this weird but impressive aesthetic design to it).

Canvas shoes are also very comfortable pair of shoes. Their characteristics are far too much to list, however, due to the material they made of (cotton) they tend to get dirty easily.

If you are a canvas user or one who’s about to buy this simple, comfortable shoe, you probably have asked severally ‘how do I clean my canvas shoes’?

The thing is canvas shoes unlike other shoes and boots which can be easily wiped clean and polished have a distinct approach to cleaning them. They can either be hand washed or machine washed.

However, cleaning them can be challenging if you don’t know your way around it.

Quick Tip

If you would be making use of a machine to clean your canvas shoes, you should know that;

a. Machine cleaning is usually very noisy. If you are not a lover of machine noise, you might want to rethink and soil your hands a little bit cleaning your canvas shoes.

b. Because the entire shoe is submerged in the machine, it could severely damage the gum or glue that holds the shoe together.

c. Putting just your canvas in the machine would probably get your washing machine spoilt; your shoe could survive… or maybe not. It’s always advisable to have a few towels placed in the machine with your canvas shoes.

This would help keep the shoes from getting in direct contact with the machine, thus preventing those clunking noises as well as saving your washing machine from harm.

If you would be making use of the hand cleaning process for your canvas shoes, you should know that;

a. Cleaning canvas shoes with hands can be time consuming and stressful

b. You can save the shoes from spoiling, thus expanding the life span if you avoid washing the soles and parts where glues where used to hold up the shoe together.

Okay, let’s talk about the cleaning practices and how to clean canvas shoes.

Yes, canvas shoes can be difficult to clean, but that shouldn’t mean you have to throw away your brand you new toms or ked shoes because you stained it while camping or walking down a dirt road.

A good and thorough cleaning would not just make it shine again; it would probably make the canvas shoe last a lot longer.

There are two ways to effectively clean up your canvas shoes,

i. Machine cleaning

ii. Hand washing/cleaning

How to clean canvas shoes

Like I said earlier, cleaning canvas shoes takes a different approach from cleaning suede or even leather shoes and boots.

This majorly is because of the materials each of these shoes is made from. Take, for instance, leather shoes are made from animal skin leather and thus, require specially made chemical cleaners to get them glittering.

Sure, they’ll need to be swiped with a clean cloth and get the dust off them before cleaning, but that’s about it (Leather and suede shoes don’t require cleaning with soap – DON’T ever, do else, you’ll spoil the material and discolor it).

Suede shoes also follow the same procedure as leather shoes with its special cleaning agent used to dab all areas to get it glittering once again.

Canvas, on the other hand, is made of cotton – yes, the cotton flax plant used to produce fabrics and different piece of clothing.

There are canvas shoes which have minute suede properties; these shoes can be cleaned by following the instructions on the shoe label (usually making use of fabric shampoo and suede cleanser).

Canvas shoes made entirely of cotton can be cleaned by either hand cleaning or the use of washing machine as said earlier.

How to clean canvas shoes using hands

Your first step to clean your canvas shoe is to make sure the shoes you are about cleaning is dry.

Remember to get rid of dust and dirt by shaking the shoe and dusting with a piece of rag. Then have the shoelaces removed and placed in the separate container.

Wash them how you normally wash your laundry with similar coloration.

Alright back to the main cleaning process, you would require a few items. These include;

i. A mild detergent for laundry

ii. Washing sponge or a toothbrush if you prefer

iii. A towel (preferably an old one)

iv. Most a bucket

v. And waste paper/brown paper/toiletries

Here’s how to go about cleaning your canvas shoes…

  • Have your bucket filled with warm water. Put in your detergent (a mild liquid laundry detergent would be best, although powdered detergent can be used). Ensure the detergent forms a lather when put in the warm water.
  • Remember this is hand washing, so you don’t need to submerge the shoes in water. Using a toothbrush or a washing sponge, scrub the exterior of the shoe with the soapy water. Don’t spare the soles; scrub them till you feel they are good to go. Now dip the washed shoes inside the warm soapy water. This is to have the dirt washed off. Remember don’t submerge in the water.
  • Scrub once again after washing off the dirt in the water, and then rinse off with clean water.
  • Your old towel would come in handy to get excess water off the shoes, just place the shoes inside and wrap it in the towel, and then squeeze.
  • Have your shoes stuffed with waste paper, brown paper or even toiletries to help it stay in shape?
  • Allow to dry. You can store away in a warm place which is dry and away from direct heat.

PS: Strong direct heat like sun or fire can make the glue weak and thus see the shoe fall apart. It can also disrupt the canvas’ texture.

How to clean canvas shoes using machine

Next stop is learning to clean your canvas shoes with a washing machine; of course, you must have a washing machine to do this

I. The first step is to ensure your shoe is free of dirt, dust, and mud before submerging in the machine. You can use a toothbrush to make this happen by scraping off all the foreign bodies on the shoe.

This would allow the machine to easily remove all the stains later when you submerge it

II. Next step is to have your soles shining. Your machine would most likely not have your canvas sole looking great, so you would need to do this yourself. To do this, have baking soda put in a bowl of water and mix.

Have a toothbrush ready and dip in the solution. Massage the entire canvas sole gently then wipe clean with a piece of cloth.

III. Now it’s time to prep the machine. Put in cold water and run a quick cycle. Now put in your ‘gentle’ detergent. Best practice is to have just about half of the detergent you normally would use for your laundry inside the machine.

Detergents should be added when enough water is already inside the machine (say half filled).

IV. Now it’s time to add the shoes. Ensure the washing machine is already about ¾ filled with water before submerging.

The shoe should be left in the machine till the cycle completes, then take it out once done.

V. Dry your shoes naturally in a well-ventilated area. Don’t put in a dryer or in open sun. This can result in distorted and even shrunken canvas shoes which you’d likely throw away. Once it’s dry, put in rack till you need to wear it.

VI. Go out and show off your sparkling canvas shoes!

    Alison Lawrence

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