How to clean canvas shoes: Step by step guide

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If you're trying to work out how to clean canvas shoes, you've come to the right place.

Coming in an array of different styles, canvas shoes are often a staple among some of the best sneakers for summer, especially since they tend to feature the brightest, boldest designs of any footwear.

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Don't worry though because, although summer is coming to an end, there's still time to learn how to clean your shoes with some canvas trainers, like these One Piece x Vans Authentics, featured among some of the best sneakers for fall.

With this in mind, we've put together a step-by-step guide to talk you through the cleaning process, and have included a few top tips along the way to ensure your sneakers come away spotless as if they were brand new.

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So, whether you're trying to clean a pair of your best Vans, or you're getting your top Converse shoes ready to wear this autumn, we've got you covered right here.

Let's dive in...

How to clean canvas shoes

The following is what we believe to be one of the most effective techniques for cleaning canvas shoes like these Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars.

Converse product image of black high-tip Chuck Taylor All Stars with white details and laces.
Credit: Converse
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Don't worry if you don't own any canvas shoes as we've also made guides to cleaning leather, suede, and mesh sneakers for you to check out.

We'll be focusing on canvas here though but before we begin, here's everything you'll need to keep your shoes pristine...

What You'll Need:

Step 1: Add a small amount of mild soap to warm water, then remove your shoelaces and soak them whilst you continue with the rest of the process.

Top Tip: Adding a small amount of baking soda to the water can help clean white laces.

Step 2: Use a soft-bristled brush and scrub your sneakers to remove any loose dirt and debris. We'd recommend brushing your sneakers in a gentle, circular motion.

Step 3: Combine a small amount of shoe cleaner, like this Angelus Easy Cleaner, with another bowl of warm water and dip a clean soft-bristled brush into the mixture. Use the shoe cleaner as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Angelus Easy Cleaner product image of a clear bottle containing light green shoe cleaner.
Credit: Angelus

Step 4: Gently work your way across the surface of your shoes with the brush until the dirt and stains have been removed.

Top Tip: An old toothbrush works well for cleaning any hard-to-reach crevasses.

Step 5: Once you're happy your shoes are clean, leave them to dry naturally. We'd suggest filling the inside of your shoes with old newspaper to help them maintain their shape whilst drying.

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Step 6: Although optional, we'd then recommend applying a top protective spray like Crep Protect in order to minimise how often you need to clean them.

Crep Protect product image of a purple and black spray can with yellow details.
Credit: Crep Protect

Step 6: Remove your shoelaces from their soak and leave them to dry with your canvas shoes before re-lacing them. Check out our guide to lacing Vans and Converse shoes right here for our top tips on getting your canvas sneakers ready to wear.

Top Tip: Filling your shoes with old newspaper beforehand can help ensure your shoes maintain their shape whilst drying.

What about white canvas shoes?

A lot of people turn to bleach to clean white shoes; however, we'd advise against it as it is a particularly harsh chemical that can permanently damage your sneakers if applied incorrectly.

Person wearing white Vans Sk8-His covered in purple paint.
Credit: Nathan Dumlao
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We'd recommend using baking soda instead for stubborn stains as detailed in our guide to cleaning white fabric shoes and white sneakers here.

Combine a tablespoon of warm water with one tablespoon of baking soda to make a paste-like mixture.

Use an old toothbrush to scrub the surface of your shoes in a circular motion using this paste. Once dry, your shoes should be a bright white colour once again.

Things to avoid when cleaning canvas shoes

It's important to treat your canvas sneakers carefully when cleaning as one wrong move or product could result in irreversible and permanent damage.

As mentioned in our guide to cleaning Jordan 1s, we'd strongly advise against ever cleaning your canvas shoes in a washing machine or dryer. The intensity of the spin, water, and heat can damage the delicate material, often leading to the fabric wearing down and the stitching pulling apart.

Similarly, avoid soaking the canvas in too much water as this can weaken the fibres of the material over time.

We'd also advise against using any soap that contains harsh chemicals. The soap can dry out your shoes, and even stain them in some cases, which then leaves them permanently damaged.

We also suggest you avoid using direct heat or sunlight to speed up the drying process. Heat can cause your shoes to deform and sunlight can bleach certain coloured fabrics.

Finally, avoid using wired brushes or rough sponges because they can sometimes pull apart the threaded fabric and stitching which is difficult to fix thereafter.

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