clean canvas shoes
Laundry

How to Clean Canvas Shoes

Could your canvas shoes do with a clean? This article includes tips on how to wash canvas shoes by hand and in the machine – read on for more information!

Canvas shoes are so comfortable, they’re easy to wear day in day out. But what do you do when they start getting stained and worn? Luckily, cleaning canvas shoes is easy, and can give your footwear a new lease of life.

How to Clean Canvas Shoes

To find out how to clean shoes, start by taking a look at the material they are made from. Leather or suede shoes will require specialist cleaners. Canvas or cotton shoes with suede detailing should also be cleaned with suede and fabric shampoo according to the instructions on the shoe label. It’s important that suede and leather shoes are not cleaned with detergent or submerged in water, as this can damage and discolour the material.

You have several options when cleaning canvas shoes. Washing shoes in a washing machine is quick and easy, but risks discolouration and a weakening of the glue that holds the shoes together. Hand washing takes a bit longer, but is a good way of helping your favourite shoes last. Simply applying and wiping or brushing off a specialist cleaning product, as with leather or suede shoes, may also be effective for shoes of mixed fabrics.

Cleaning Canvas Shoes by Hand

Whichever method you plan to use, first of make sure the shoes are dry, and shake off as much excess dust and dirt as you can. Remove the laces, and wash these separately in a normal laundry load with similarly coloured clothing.

You will need:

  • A bucket
  • Warm water
  • Laundry detergent
  • A toothbrush, or a washing-up sponge
  • An old towel
  • Waste paper

How to do it:

  • Fill a bucket with warm water, and make a lather with 1-2 tbsp (15-30 ml) of laundry detergent – a liquid detergent like Omo Liquid is ideal. If you are using a powdered detergent, swirl it around until it is mostly dissolved and bubbles appear.
  • Hold each shoe above the bucket and scrub the outside, including the soles, with a toothbrush or washing-up sponge. Gently dip the shoes in the water to wash off the dirt and continue scrubbing – avoid submerging the shoes entirely
  • Rinse your shoes with warm, clean water.
  • Use an old towel to squeeze any excess water from the shoes.
  • Stuff your shoes with paper or similar to preserve their shape.
  • Leave the shoes to dry in the sun (if possible) or in a warm, dry place indoors – away from any direct heat source. Direct heat can weaken the glue used to hold this kind of shoe together, and affect the texture of the canvas.

How to Clean Canvas Shoes in the Washing Machine

You will need:

  • A washing machine
  • Laundry detergent
  • A mild pre-wash treatment for any major stains
  • Waste paper

How to do it:

  • Pre-treat any stains if present, following the instructions on the label of your chosen product. Depending on the stain, you may not have to buy a specialist cleaner: some liquid laundry detergents can be used as an effective pre-treatment.
  • Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with cool water.
  • Add half the usual dose of detergent.
  • Allow machine to finish its cycle as normal.
  • Remove your shoes from the washing machine and allow them to dry in the sun, stuffed with paper or similar to preserve their shape. It’s possible to dry shoes in a tumble dryer with some old towels, but bear in mind this is tough on both dryer and shoes, and may weaken the glue holding the shoes together.

That’s it, now you know how to clean shoes quickly and easily – just remember to let your newly clean shoes dry properly before wearing them!

Top Tip


Washing shoes in a washing machine can be a noisy business – if you do decide to clean canvas shoes in this way, throw a couple of towels into the machine as well to protect your appliance and prevent clunking noises.

Key Steps:

  1. Cleaning canvas shoes is easy with a good quality laundry detergent like Omo Liquid. Just be sure to read the instructions on the product’s label.
  2. Allow your canvas shoes to to dry naturally – preferably in the sun. Stuff them with paper to preserve their shape.