How to Clean and Care for Your Canvas Shoes Like a Pro

When it comes to versatile footwear, few styles beat the comfort and style of a good pair of canvas shoes. However, the fabric material can also be easy to stain and dirt can build up quickly on these shoes due to their natural texture. Luckily, it’s fairly simple to clean canvas shoes and get them looking as good as new again.

Before starting the cleaning process, it is important to remove the laces and let the shoes air dry. This will prevent them from shrinking and becoming stretched out of shape as they dry. Additionally, it is a good idea to stuff the shoes with newspaper or paper towels so they can absorb excess moisture.

Next, use a toothbrush or soft-bristle brush to gently brush away loose dirt and debris on the exterior of the shoes. Pay special attention to the crevices and seams of the shoe where most dirt builds up. A rag soaked in warm water can also be used to brush off loose dirt and debris.

Start the actual washing process by filling a sink with warm water (do not use hot water as this can damage the fabric of the shoe). Add a small amount of laundry detergent or gentle soap to the water and stir it around with your hands or a soft-bristle brush. Wash each shoe individually, taking care to scrub any hard-to-reach spots that may have built up. If you are having difficulty removing a particular stain or spot, use a pre-treater on the shoes prior to washing. This will help to lift and dissolve the stain.

Once you have washed the shoes, rinse them with a cloth dipped in fresh water to remove any remaining detergent or soap. Then, let the shoes and laces air dry away from direct sunlight and heat sources, wiping the shoelaces with an absorbent towel to speed up the drying process.

To prevent stains, it is best to avoid washing canvas shoes with any type of fabric softener as this can leave behind residue that attracts soil. If you do notice a tough stain or spot, use white shoe polish to cover the area and restore its original color.

It is also a good idea to store canvas shoes in a shoebox or a storage rack that will allow them to breathe and stay free of residual perspiration and other odors. In addition, they should be placed in a dark place to keep them from yellowing over time. Lastly, if the shoes have any rubber or leather components, such as soles or shoelaces, it is important to sew patches over rips and holes or glue them back on using strong shoe adhesives such as Shoe Goo or Loctite Shoe Glue. This will prolong the life of your shoes. Thanks to this simple cleaning and care routine, you can enjoy a great pair of canvas shoes for years to come.

A little black dress, a good pair of jeans, and the humble white sneaker—they're the kind of pieces you wear with anything and everything, and they're a part of your everyday look. But when those kicks get dirty, you need to know how to clean and care for them correctly. And we have a couple of effective, easy-to-use methods that'll have your shoes looking like new in no time.

The First Step: Knock Off Loose Dirt

Before you wash your canvas sneakers, make sure they're free of loose dirt. You can do this with a brush or by tapping the shoes together or on a hard surface, but it's important to knock off as much dirt as possible before you move on to cleaning them. This will help you get a cleaner, more thorough clean.

Soak and Scrub

The next step is to soak your canvas shoes in a solution of detergent and water. You can do this in your sink or a bathtub, but it's best to use a soft brush to gently scrub them (you don't want to damage the canvas) and target any dark stains that don't seem to be fading. Once you've soaked them, take off the laces and scrub the insides of the shoe and the soles.

You can also use a toothbrush to scrub away any dirt that's stuck in crevices or seams. After you're done scrubbing, rinse your shoes and blot them dry with a cloth or towel.

After your shoes are clean and dry, you should air them out in a cool, shaded place away from direct sunlight. You can stuff them with newspaper or paper bags to help them keep their shape while they're drying, but don't put them in the dryer—the agitation and being submerged for extended periods of time could cause them to shrink or warp.

Once your sneakers are clean and dry, it's a good idea to apply a water-resistant fabric protector spray. This will help them resist water, dirt, and stains for longer, keeping them looking newer for longer.

Lastly, be sure to check the labels on your shoes before washing them. If they're a mix of fabrics, or have any leather or suede trim, don't wash them in the washer. The agitation of the washer can loosen the shoe adhesives and ruin your shoes. Instead, try washing them by hand with fabric shampoo or, if they're a true cotton or polyester blend, with some regular soap. If they have a rubber sole, be sure to wash them separately from the rest of the shoe so they don't tangle. If they have a removable insole, remove it and clean it separately as well.