Canvas shoes, both in slip-on and sneaker forms, have been an indispensable part of casual dress for decades. These timeless pieces are popular for many reasons, including the fact that they look great with everything from jeans and shorts to dresses and skirts. They've recently become mainstream enough that candidates can wear them on the campaign trail.
The main selling points of canvas shoes are their adaptability and comfort, so it's hard to think of a reason not to have at least a few pairs. But considering that they're made of fabric, you know that they'll get soiled more quickly than your other footwear. Stains from things like grass and mud can be particularly difficult to remove from canvas shoes, as reported by Bustle.
The good news is that it can be just as easy to clean the material up after it gets dirty. In this article, you'll find detailed instructions for cleaning your canvas shoes, from the uppers to the soles.
Get rid of the larger pieces of debris, such as dirt, sand, grass, and even leaves, sticks, or pebbles, that have accumulated on and inside your sneakers before you get down to the nitty-gritty of cleaning them. You can quickly and easily accomplish this by shaking them in the open air or over a trash can. Byrdie recommends slapping the bottoms of your shoes together or onto the ground for a good shake.
Using a new, soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub away surface dirt is a more effective method, as recommended by Better Homes and Gardens. If you skip this step, you might end up with more work later on or not get the best possible results from the steps that follow. So, before moving on to the next step, spend an extra minute or two cleaning the sneakers thoroughly.
The next step is to unlace the shoes and make a mental note of how they were originally tied. If it helps, take a picture of them in advance. Once they've been taken out of the picture, there are a few different routes you can take to clean them.
Country Living recommended washing them in a dishwashing liquid and water solution and drying them on a paper towel. Family Handyman suggests washing white, particularly dirty items in a bleach solution diluted with water and then rinsing them thoroughly. Wear disposable gloves to avoid skin damage when working with any concentration of bleach.
Alternatively, you can let the washing machine handle all of the grime. To prevent tangling and misplacing, place them in a zippered mesh bag before running them through a standard cycle. Don't rush to throw the laces in with the rest of your sneakers if you plan on washing them in the machine.
Pre-treating stains is another step you should take to ensure the cleanest possible final result when washing your sneakers, in addition to taking the time to knock off the excess dirt. Better Homes and Gardens suggests applying laundry detergent directly to stains and waiting at least fifteen minutes before washing. In addition to using your hands, The Spruce recommends using a soft-bristled brush to scrub the detergent into the fabric.
Since canvas is also a fabric, Who What Wear recommends using the same gentle spot treatment you would use on your clothing for everyday stains. Grass and other particularly stubborn stains can be treated with a stronger spot treatment product. To make scrubbing the affected area easier, the packaging of many treatments on the market includes a brush. If the laces are stained as well, you can clean them with either method.
This is probably the simplest way to clean your sneakers, but it won't work for all materials, so weigh the pros and cons before you dive in. If you only wash your canvas shoes occasionally, they should be fine in the washer. In contrast, you can skip this part if your footwear has embellishments or is trimmed with material like leather, suede, or even rope (as in an espadrille sole).
To ensure the sneakers' survival through the wash, throw in some towels to act as padding while the machine operates. Bob Vila suggests putting the shoes in a zippered mesh lingerie bag after taking out any inserts. You should always have two on hand so that your shoelaces can be washed separately in the same load.
The Spruce advises using regular detergent and a low spin cycle when cleaning sneakers. Only if all the items in the load, including shoes, laces, and towels, are white can bleach be added. Alternatively, if you want a stronger clean, you can use bleach that contains oxygen.
Cleaning canvas shoes by hand is a safer, albeit more labor-intensive, option. Good Housekeeping suggests using a mixture of a mild dishwashing detergent and warm water for this purpose. To clean your shoes, simply dip a soft cloth or brush into the solution and then suds them up and rub them in.
Dishwashing liquid can be substituted with a mild laundry detergent or even baby shampoo. The Kitchn recommends using a paste made of baking soda, white vinegar, and water to clean particularly grimy footwear. The paste can be applied to the shoes, and then a clean toothbrush can be used to work it in until the shoes are completely covered. Also, Good Housekeeping recommends cleaning white shoes with a brush dipped in hydrogen peroxide.
Your shoes should come out much cleaner after you've washed them, whether by hand or in the washing machine. Putting on the finishing touches, such as shining the bottoms of your shoes, is now in order. Using a Mr. Potato Head appears to be the most effective strategy. To clean with a Magic Eraser Reader's Digest recommends running the eraser under water and using a circular motion to buff the soles.
According to Apartment Therapy, melamine foam, which is what Magic Erasers are made of, is a powerful yet gentle abrasive that effectively mimics thin sandpaper in terms of cleaning power. You can try to remove any remaining stains from the soles of your shoes by rubbing them with a damp cloth if you don't have any erasers on hand. Buy a pack of these melamine sponges the next time you're at the store so you can maintain a spotless sole.
At this point, you can give your canvas shoes a final cleaning to ensure they look their best. If you've washed your shoes in the washing machine, the detergent and suds should be completely rinsed away, but if you washed them by hand, there may still be some detergent or baking soda on the shoes.
One method recommended by Better Homes and Gardens is to use a clean, damp cloth to disinfect the shoes. Make sure to get under the tongue and run it around the whole thing. Sponges can also be used to clean shoes, as suggested by the book How To Clean Stuff. In this stage, avoid completely saturating them by any means possible. The Kitchn suggests waiting until the shoes are dry before attempting to scratch off any remaining baking soda paste or pounding them together to remove any remaining paste.
Now is the time to dry your shoes so you can put them back into service as soon as possible. The Spruce recommends using a quick-drying towel for this purpose. Following that, you might want to consider using newspaper to pad your footwear. According to Byrdie, this not only helps the shoes dry faster, but it also aids in maintaining their original form. You shouldn't use newspapers or anything else that could stain your shoes, even if it's just the insoles, because the ink could transfer. Use something more practical like a paper towel, printer paper, or a brown paper bag.
The best place to put shoes to dry is somewhere cool and out of the sun. Who What Wear notes that white canvas shoes can benefit from some sunlight shining on them. When they're dry, your go-to sneakers can be worn again without fear of ruin.