Canvas is usually associated with sneakers, but this type of material is found on other shoes as well. Canvas can actually be made out of many different materials, and the first step to learning how to clean these shoes is to find out what they’re made of. After you find this out, it is easier to get your shoes as clean as the day you bought them.

What Is Canvas?

Canvas is a plain woven fabric that is commonly used in the making of tents, tote bags, sails, and backpacks, to name a few. These days, canvas is normally made out of either linen or cotton and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but it can also be made out of hemp. Canvas is extremely durable and differs from heavy cotton fabrics because it is a plain weave and not a twill weave.

In addition to numerous accessories and clothing items, canvas is also used as a medium for artists. There can also be many types of canvas, including dyed, printed, striped, waxed, and waterproof, to name a few. The type chosen depends mostly on the product that will be made from it.

Many sneaker manufacturers offer their shoes in canvas material, including Converse and Nike, as well as others. They make the shoes in canvas because it is a very durable material that can take a lot of abuse and keep going. It also allows for a comfort that people can wear both on and off the field or court.

Are Only Sneakers Made of Canvas?

Some people assume that sneakers are the only shoes made out of canvas, but this is incorrect. Many slip-on casual shoes are also made out of canvas, as are some sandals. One of the biggest advantages of choosing shoes made out of canvas is the selection of colors, patterns, and designs now available.

In fact, if people are looking for any type of casual shoe or sandal, whether for men, women, or children, it is very likely going to be a pair of canvas shoes. Canvas also has the advantage of being very inexpensive, so you can find a pair of canvas shoes that you love without hurting your wallet. They are especially convenient when you’re looking for shoes for children.

The Challenges of Keeping Canvas Shoes Clean

Even though canvas shoes are comfortable, durable, and inexpensive, this doesn’t mean they are easy to clean. In fact, canvas shoes can be a challenge to clean because you can’t just toss them in the washer like you can many other shoes. This means that if you want your canvas shoes cleaned, you’re likely going to have to clean them yourself.

Most canvas shoes have a layer of glue between the shoe and the sole, and the glue will melt or become damaged if placed in the washer and/or the dryer. Canvas can also shrink if put in the dryer and set on too high of a heat. This is why most shoe owners go ahead and clean their canvas shoes by hand, and this is usually the best way to do this.

Getting started is easy, because you’ll simply need water, a mild detergent such as Dreft or even baby shampoo, an old toothbrush or nail brush, and a sponge. The first thing you’ll do is remove all of the “chunks” of dirt and dried-on debris, which you can do by slamming the two shoes together so the pieces fall off. You should also do this only when the debris is dry because it won’t work the same if it’s wet.

First Thing’s First

Once you remove the big wads of dry dirt and grass, you’re ready for the real cleaning to start. Go ahead and place some water in a bowl, squirt some of the detergent into the bowl, and swirl it around so it makes some lather. If you have shoe strings, go ahead and remove them and place them in the water to soak for a minute or two.

Swirl the shoelaces around in the soapy water then remove them, rinse them with clean water, and hang them somewhere to dry. At this point, you’re ready to start cleaning the shoes. Next, take the toothbrush or nail brush and scoop up some suds on it to get it nice and soapy.

The next step is important for all canvas shoes, but especially for shoes that are black in color. You have to test a small section to make sure the soap you’re using doesn’t damage or fade the shoe, which sometimes happens with darker colors. In a discrete place, such as under the tongue of the shoe, clean a small section with the soapy brush and watch to see how the shoe reacts to the cleaning.

If the shoe starts to fade or change color, it means you’re using a detergent that is too harsh for canvas. This also happens when the shoe is labeled “canvas,” but is actually made out of something else. If this happens, you should stop the process and wait until you can find another mild detergent.

If the shoe gets cleaner without fading or changing color, you can continue to the next step. As you scrub the shoe, do a small section at a time, and always pass over any labels or printing on the shoes because the labels may fall off and the printing could be damaged. Keep scrubbing in tiny sections until the entire shoe is clean.

Rinsing Is Important

To rinse the shoes, you don’t completely soak them in water but instead, take a clean sponge, rinse it out with water, then squeeze it to get the excess water out of it. Wipe the shoe down in sections and repeat if necessary until all of the suds are removed. Make sure the shoes are never too wet – a damp “cleaning” will suffice.

Keep in mind that even though canvas is tough, water can still make it fray and even fade over time, especially if you clean these shoes on a regular basis. This is why you have to use a mild detergent when you clean them, and why you shouldn’t soak them in water as you do. If you soaked them in water once, your shoes would likely be fine, but doing this again and again isn’t good on the canvas.

Once you’re finished with the shoes, you’ll want to turn to the rubber soles next. To clean the soles, use the same damp sponge and give them a light cleaning. That should be all that’s needed to clean the soles of your shoes.

When you get to this point, you should take a clean, dry towel and press it gently against each part of the shoe so that all of the excess dampness is removed. Next, let them dry in a warm place, but never directly in the sun because this is a fast way to get canvas to fade. Just place them in a warm place and let them air dry, which could take a day or two.

The “no drying in direct sun” rule is especially important for dark colors such as black. Black already fades naturally over time, and placing a black canvas shoe in direct sunlight only makes it worse. It shouldn’t be difficult for you to find a warm place that isn’t directly in the sunlight.

Some Helpful Tips for Cleaning Canvas Shoes

If you’re still a little nervous about cleaning your canvas shoes, not to worry. Overall, canvas is easy to clean, especially if you do it regularly. In addition, here are some tips to make cleaning your black canvas shoes even easier:

  • At the beginning of the process, if you notice dirt or scuff marks, you can use something like a scrub brush or a magic eraser to get them off of the shoe. It doesn’t always work, but if you use the right cleaning product, it just might. And, it’s worth a shot!
  • To make cleaning easier, roll up some newspaper and place them inside each of the shoes. It helps the shoes keep their shape and remain firm. This, in turn, makes cleaning them a lot easier.
  • If you can, choose a cleaning product such as Ivory Soap, Woolite, or Persil Non-Bio Silk and Wool. Remember, you want the product to be gentle, but effective. Baby products are always a good choice.
  • Never use bleach on your black shoes, for obvious reasons. Even if you’re just spot-cleaning or cleaning a small area, bleach can be disastrous. Even bleach for colors may be too harsh for canvas.
  • Don’t soak canvas shoes in water because it can damage the shoes. This is especially true if your shoes are already old or starting to get worn out. You can keep the shoes damp, but never wet.

It isn’t that difficult to clean black canvas shoes, as long as you know what to do and what not to do. Canvas is a comfortable, breathable material that many people look for when shopping for casual shoes, so it’s important to know just how to clean them. After all, these shoes may be inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to be replacing them on a regular basis.

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