Expert Advice

How to Clean Canvas Shoes

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a soft spot for canvas shoes. They’re versatile, comfy, and have that effortlessly cool vibe that can instantly elevate any casual outfit. But let’s face it: life happens, and our beloved canvas shoes can take a beating. Luckily, canvas shoes are some of the easiest to clean at home, and you likely already have everything you need right in your cupboard! Here are 2 simple ways to clean your favorite canvas shoes and restore them to their former glory in no time at all.

How to Clean Canvas Shoes in the Washing Machine

Before you toss your canvas shoes straight into your washing machine, you’re going to want to make sure they don’t have any suede or leather details, as submersion in water will almost definitely ruin those parts. The washing machine can also be rough on rope soles, beading, or trim details, but don’t worry! We’ll get into how you can easily hand wash your shoes at home a little later.

Once you’ve deemed your canvas sneakers to be machine-wash safe, start by removing any laces your shoes might have. You can either toss these into a mesh laundry bag and put them in the washer with your shoes or wash them by hand. Next, if your shoes have any stains, pre-treat those areas by dabbing detergent on trouble spots and letting sit for at least 15 minutes. Once the detergent has had some time to soak in, wash your shoes on a normal cycle in warm or cold water with your regular laundry detergent. Don’t just throw them in by themselves, though; toss in a load of towels or jeans to keep your washing machine balanced.

When the wash is complete, simply remove your shoes, set them somewhere out of direct sunlight, and let them dry on their own. Putting shoes in the dryer, even on the low setting, can cause adhesives to melt and make your shoes fall apart, so it’s worth the wait to air dry. If you’re worried about the shoes retaining their shape, you can fill them with paper towels or newspaper first. Paper towels will help them dry more quickly, too! Once everything is dry, re-lace your sneakers and you’re good to go!

How to Clean Canvas Shoes by Hand

Some canvas shoes and sneakers, like TOMS and Sperry shoes, need a slightly gentler approach. The best way to do this is simply to hand wash your shoes, which can very easily be done at home in just about any sink.  All you need is some liquid laundry detergent, a soft-bristled brush, and a sponge. Just like with our machine-washing method, you’ll start by removing the laces from your sneakers if they have them. While you wash the rest of your shoes, let these soak in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent and 2 quarts of warm water. Next, pre-treat any stains with a dab of detergent, working it into the fabric with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. To get the most stain-fighting power possible, let the detergent sit for at least 15 minutes before moving on to the rest of the shoe.

Believe it or not, the hard part is done! To clean the rest of the shoe, simply dip a sponge or washcloth into the detergent solution you mixed earlier and scrub the outside and inside of the shoe. If your soles are especially dirty, you can use a melamine sponge to take scuff marks off the rubber. Once everything is cleaned to your liking, rinse the shoes with a cloth dipped in clean water and let them air dry away from direct heat or harsh sunlight. To speed up the drying process a bit, you can wipe the shoes with an absorbent towel. While your shoes are air drying, give your laces a rinse and set them out to dry, too. Once everything has dried completely, you can lace up your casual kicks and take them out on your next adventure!

Have any at-home cleaning tips we missed? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to tag us in your photos on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest!