How To Clean Canvas Shoes? (Even The White Ones!)

Last Updated on April 7, 2021 by Austin Cunningham

When it comes to footwear, canvas sneakers are as reliable and versatile as any other type! People wear canvas shoes regardless of their age and style.

Many styles are available in canvas shoes, including traditional sneakers, espadrilles, and heels, all available in every color. Most canvas shoe styles are comfortable, breathable, and easy to maintain.

Although canvas does have many advantages, its biggest drawback is that it can’t hide dirt, grass stains, or scuff marks.

It’s okay for me to work with canvas or dirt, though, because it’s easy to come and easy to go. You can get your canvas shoes looking almost like new by putting in just a little effort in cleaning them!

Can Canvas Shoes Be Washed In The Washing Machine?

When canvas sneakers are washed in a machine, they can become discolored, and the glue holding them together may lose its strength. The best way to avoid damaging your shoes is to clean them by hand rather than using a cleaning machine.

Clean canvas shoes gently, like you’d clean any other type of shoe. Machine-washing canvas shoes might seem easy and quick, yet they can also be dangerous!

How Often To Clean Canvas Shoes?

You need to clean canvas or fabric shoes according to where they are being worn and how often they are being worn. You should give dressier shoes a good cleaning once or twice during the season if you wear them occasionally. And don’t forget to spot-clean any specific stains.

If sneakers are worn every day, they will look their best and smell fresher if cleaned more frequently. If you wear canvas shoes multiple times a week, handwash the shoes or machine wash them.

You can learn how to clean your shoes by hand in no time at all. Here’s how!

How To Clean Canvas Shoes?

The last thing I want is for my nice white canvas Ked to become stained and unwearable! This simple method will help you keep your canvas shoes looking new.

Things You Will Need:

  • Bucket or sink
  • Warm water
  • OxiClean
  • Scrub brush or toothbrush
  • Towel


  • Laundry detergent
  • Chlorine or oxygen-based bleach
  • Mesh laundry bag
  • Disinfectant (optional)


  • Washer
  • Soft-bristled brush

Steps For Cleaning Canvas Shoes In A Washer

Step 1

Before you begin, please read the following. It would help if you didn’t wash canvas shoes that have suede or leather trim in a washing machine. Instead, wash using your hands. Shoes with beading and rope soles are also at risk. Too much agitation in a washing machine can loosen glues used in construction, and too much time in the water can ruin surfaces.

Step 2

The laces of shoes should be removed, and then they should be removed and cleaned separately. Then add them to a mesh laundry bag before putting them in the washer to prevent them from tangling.

Remove the laces from the shoes first. Wash these garments in your washer by zipping them up in mesh laundry bags. Removing insoles from your shoes is important if your shoes have removable insoles or you have placed a pair into them.

Step 3

Next, brush off any loose dirt and dust with a scrub brush. Mix one cup of OxiClean and a gallon of warm water in a bucket or sink and soak your shoes in this solution.

If your shoes are extremely dirty, soak them in the solution for 30 minutes to two hours.

If the shoes are white, you can add chlorine bleach to brighten them up. Instead of using bleach for colored canvas, use an oxygen-based bleach.

A disinfectant may help ward off fungus such as Athlete’s foot. Add the correct amount per load according to the product’s directions.

During the normal wash cycle, use warm or cold water, but don’t spin the machine too fast to avoid it becoming off-balance.

Step 5

Put a teaspoon of the laundry detergent to work on any stains or really grimy shoes before washing. Before putting the shoes into the washer, dab on the detergent (Tide or Persil work best for tough stains and grease) and scrub the canvas for at least 15 minutes.

Muddy shoes should never go in the washer. This can cause the washer to malfunction. Before you wash, rinse off the mud with a garden hose or in a utility sink.

Step 6

Next up, you will have to fill your washer load. Shoes made of the canvas should be washed in a wash load of towels (it does not matter what color they are) to help balance the load.

Shoes should never be washed in a single load! The tongue on lace-up shoes should be pulled up as you place them in the washing machine to ensure the cleaning solution gets to all surfaces easily.

Step 7

The final step is Drying Canvas Shoes.

If you’re using a washer, wait until the cycle is completed before removing the shoes and letting them air dry. Never use a hot clothes dryer to dry canvas shoes. The heat could melt the glue and ruin the shoes.

The toes of the shoe can be stuffed with nylon mesh or paper towels if you are concerned that they will maintain their shape. The interior can be dried faster if you change paper towels on a regular basis.

How to Hand Wash Canvas Shoes?

It is safer to wash shoes by hand if they have embellishments or rope soles. It is also easier to simply spot clean the fabric when you are in a hurry.

Things you will need:


  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Warm water
  • Terry cloth towel


  • Bucket or sink
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Cloth or sponge
  • Melamine sponge

Step 1 – Make a Cleaning Solution

One teaspoon of liquid detergent should be mixed with two quarts of warm water.

Step 2 – Pretreat Stains

You can pretreat stains visible on the shoes by dabbing a bit of detergent onto them. You can use a soft-bristled brush or fingers to spread the detergent. Before you wash the entire shoe, let the solution work for at least 15 minutes.

Step 3 – Scrub the Shoes With a Sponge

Place the shoelaces, if any, in the detergent solution to be soaked while the shoes are being washed.

To clean the outside and inside of the shoe, dip a cloth in warm water and detergent and use it like a sponge. Consider the soles as well.

Remove scuff marks from rubber soles with a melamine sponge.

Step 4 – Rinse and Dry

Remove dirt and grime with a soft toothbrush or scrub brush after soaking. After rinsing the shoes thoroughly, pat them dry with a towel after you have absorbed as much water as possible — both outside and inside the shoes.

Rinse the shoes by wiping them down with a cloth moistened with freshwater after removing the soil. Shoes and laces should be dried without direct sunlight and with airflow away from direct heat. Using an absorbent towel to wipe the shoes will speed up their drying process.

Step 5 – Finishing Touches

Put some newspaper in each pair of shoes to absorb excess moisture and keep their shape while they dry. The shoes should be set aside and allowed to dry completely, which may take anywhere between a few hours to several days depending upon the humidity level.

Relace your shoes after they have dried, and go out and show them off!

Bonus Tips For Cleaning Canvas Shoes

  • Magic Erasers are perfect for eradicating scuff marks on rubber parts of sneakers.
  • Put a little newspaper or paper bag inside of each shoe to help keep its shape while drying.
  • Your shoes will look better and last longer with a newly tied pair of laces.

And that’s all there is to it. Hopefully, now you can clean your favorite pair of canvas shoes the right way. You can also these methods to clean your table tennis shoes as well as racquetball shoes. 

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