How to Clean Canvas Shoes and Keep Them Fresh and Awesome

Canvas shoes are one of the most basic forms of shoes or sneakers. As the name suggests, canvas shoes’ upper are made from canvas, and they normally have rubber soles down below. They are lightweight, comfortable, and definitely stylish. A lot of big shoe brands have produced cool canvas shoes, like Nike and Adidas. However, they do require maintenance in order to keep their conditions good. Let’s take a look at How to clean canvas shoes, shall we?


Before proceeding to talk about creative and effective ways to clean canvas shoes, I want to talk about something that feels equally important, and that is how often you should clean your canvas shoes. Personally, I love to clean my shoes at least once a month. Actually, it’s recommendable to clean them straight after usage to eliminate any dirt or stains. But if you use them regularly like I do, cleaning it once or twice a month will suffice. 


Cleaning canvas shoes require patience and attention to detail. I have constructed a good and rather easy way to answer the question on how to clean canvas shoes and make them stay fresh.


  • Shoe Cleaner: A special shoe detergent needed to clean your favorite and precious canvas shoes. You can use other mild detergents as well. But in my experience, a shoe cleaner will be the best option in the market
  • Apron: Not an obligatory item, but it will come in handy when we’re talking about keeping your shirt clean while washing your canvas shoes. I find it really useful as I’m quite clumsy when it comes to cleaning shoes!
  • Premium Brush: Used to clean the upper part of your canvas shoes which are going to be made from canvas. 
  • Medium Brush: Used to clean your canvas shoe’s midsole section. 
  • Standard Brush: Used to clean your canvas shoe’s outsole section.
  • Small Brush or Toothbrush: This type of brush will come in handy when it comes to cleaning the inner part of your canvas shoes that is usually hard to reach. 
  • Microfiber Cloth: Used to wipe canvas shoes clean from dirt and stains. 
  • Shoe Tree: Essential item to keep your canvas shoe’s basic structure intact. 
  • Container/Pan: Used to store water that will be mixed with Shoe Perfume in order to generate a certain odor for your canvas shoes. I love using shoe perfume as my shoes will often produce a bad odor. A shoe perfume will help freshen things up


  • Midsole: The side sole section of Your Canvas Shoes. To clean the midsole, I suggest you use Medium Brush, as midsoles can often get damaged and dirty due to usage.
  • Outsole, or the lower part of Your Canvas Shoes: To clean canvas shoes’ outsole, you can use a standard brush that is strong and sturdy. This way, dirt and stains from your outsole might be cleaned easily. 
  • Insole: The inner part of your Canvas Shoes that also acts as a cushion to make your foot more comfortable. It’s better to remove the insoles from your canvas shoes before cleaning them. However, don’t force it if it’s not possible. To clean the insole, you can use a premium brush as well as a toothbrush, as they can reach parts that are harder to clean


A pair of canvas suede shoes that need to be freshened up. 

  • Prepare the cleaning kits needed to clean your canvas shoes:

Prepare the Shoe Cleaner, apron, Premium Brush, Medium Brush, Standard Brush, Small Brush, Microfiber Cloth, 2 pieces of Shoe Tree, and a container to store water and Shoe Perfume. 

  • Remove the laces from your canvas shoes

It’s essential to remove the laces from your canvas shoes before starting the cleaning process. Laces need to be cleaned separately. You can do this by soaking them inside a bucket of water that has been mixed with the shoe cleaner detergent.  

This is an essential step, as a Shoetree will be important to maintain the shape of your canvas shoes when they’re being washed. However, make sure to remove the insole before inserting a shoe tree. Don’t force it if the insole can’t be removed, though. 

  • Dry Clean Your Canvas Shoes

Before proceeding to clean your canvas shoes with water, you really need to dry clean your shoes first. To do this, you can use a Premium Brush or small brush to get rid of loose dust or dirt. I love to do this step before cleaning my shoes with water, as it can help reduce the dirt before deep-cleaning them.  

  • Wash the Outsole and Midsole of Your Canvas Shoes

During this cleaning stage, you can use a Standard Brush. Make sure to use all your strength when cleaning the outsole, as it’s naturally the dirtiest part of a shoe.

As soon as you have finished cleaning the outsole, you can proceed by cleaning the midsole with a Medium Brush. This time, patience and diligence are needed, as there will be a lot of dirty spots that are hard to clean. Never resist from repeating the cleaning process if your suede shoes are still dirty.

  • Wash the Upper Part of Your Canvas Shoes

To clean the upper part of your canvas shoes, I will definitely use a Premium Brush, as it’ll be soft enough to not damage your shoes. Canvas are quite sensitive, and that’s the reason why you shouldn’t use a standard brush to clean the upper part of your shoes. 

  • Wash the Inner Part of Your Canvas Shoes

Use a small brush to clean the inner part of your shoes that is narrow and small. Shortly after, clean it with a microfiber cloth. You can actually use a Premium Brush to clean this section. But if you have a large hand like me, a small brush or toothbrush would be a better option. 

  • Detailing

Use a microfiber cloth to clean the details on your shoes that are still dirty. As an alternative, wet tissue can also be used. However, I personally love to use a cloth better than a tissue, as it’s more effective to absorb dirt and water. 

  • Drying Process

Leave your shoes in front of a fan and leave them for around 1-2 hours. 

  • Finishing  

Once the shoes are completely dry, you can remove the shoe tree. Then, put the dry laces back on your suede shoes. Now, your suede shoes are all ready to be used!



Clean your shoes carefully and gently when cleaning the canvas material, especially because it is quite sensitive

Clean your shoes at least once a month. If you don’t clean them, dirt and stains might pile up, therefore making it harder for you to clean

Clean your shoes as soon as you notice stains and scuffs on them


Don’t scrub your shoes with your whole strength, as it might damage them

Don’t try to leave your shoes under direct contact with the sunlight, as it may damage the paint job of your shoes


  • Never leave them in a moist area
  • Don’t let your shoes get dirty
  • Don’t pile your shoes without their box, as it would be harder to clean
  • Clean them after each usage


You can definitely clean your canvas shoes by hand (by hand, I mean manually cleaning your canvas shoes without the need to use a washing machine). Before getting into the guideline, you will need to prepare a soft brush, a damp cloth, and a mixture of water and laundry detergent. You can actually use other mixtures to clean canvas shoes. However, I found out that laundry detergent is very effective in cleaning your canvas shoes

  • Prepare the items that I have mentioned before
  • Dip the soft brush into the mixture
  • Rub the brush on the surface of your shoes. Do it gently and in a circular motion
  • Once you have covered the whole shoes, you can proceed to clean them with a damp cloth to get rid of both the mixture and stains
  • Store your shoes or use them once they have completely dried


White canvas shoes can be trickier to own this, and those of you who have one might back this idea. As a matter of fact, they can get easily dirty due to their bright appearance. That’s the reason why you should regularly clean them! 

There are a lot of ways to clean white canvas shoes. You can even use the technique that I gave before to clean your canvas shoes. But bleach can be a great answer to clean a pair of dirty canvas shoes. Furthermore, I’ve tried to use bleach to clean my white canvas shoes that have yellow stains, and it works!

 If you want to clean your canvas shoes with bleach, you will need to prepare these items:

  • Make a solution of 1 part bleach and 4 parts water
  • A soft brush. As an alternative, you can also use a toothbrush
  • Gloves to protect your hands from bleach
  • A microfiber cloth

Now, let’s get into the fun part!

  • Prepare the solution, and dip your brush inside the solution
  • Gently rub the brush on the surface of your shoes. Do it in a circular motion and make sure to cover all parts of your shoes
  • Leave your shoes for a while to let the bleach do its work
  • Rinse your shoes with water to get rid of the stains and bleach
  • Wipe the shoes with a microfiber cloth. Make sure to get them completely dry before storing your shoes


Colored canvas shoes are normally darker than normal shoes. Therefore, the stains might not be as visible than the ones on your white canvas shoes. However, colored canvas shoes can’t be cleaned with bleach. Using bleach to clean canvas shoes will only damage the paint job of your precious footwear. 

Don’t worry, though! Bleach isn’t the only item to clean shoes. You can try using the previous method that I have shared to clean colored canvas shoes (including black shoes as well). as an alternative, you can also clean them in washing machine. I’ve tried washing my canvas shoes in a machine before, and it generally produces a satisfactory result. If you want to clean your canvas shoes with a washing machine, you should stick around, because I’m going to be discussing more about it later on. 


Most of my tricks to clean canvas shoes will require the assistance of water. However, some of you might prefer dry-cleaning them in order to avoid mess in your house (or wherever you’re cleaning them). If you’re wondering ways on how to clean canvas shoes without water, then you might want to stick around. 

To dry-clean your canvas shoes, you will need to prepare a shoe brush (or a soft brush), wet tissue (technically, there’s water on your tissue, but you’re not using tap water, right?), a Magic Eraser, and a microfiber cloth.

  • Scrub your shoes gently and carefully with a shoe brush to get rid of the dirt and stains. Since you’re not doing it with water, make sure to be patient, as the stains might be a little bit tougher to get rid of
  • Wet the canvas shoes with wet tissue. Make sure to tap them gently when cleaning the canvas material
  • Use the Magic Eraser to get rid of any stains or dirt remnants
  • Finalize the process by using a microfiber cloth

You can definitely clean canvas shoes without water. However, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be as effective than when you’re using them. Therefore, I recommend other methods for shoes that are very dirty. Only use this method if your shoes are not too dirty (i.e. no stains can be found, as there are only dust on your shoes).


Although bleach is an effective tool to clean canvas shoes, some people might feel a little bit reserved when using them, due to their damaging nature. Therefore, baking soda has turned out to be an interesting prospect that you can use as an alternative. I love cleaning canvas shoes with baking soda as well, as it can help clean my shoes and make them fresh once more. 

  • Prepare a mixture between baking soda and vinegar
  • Pour the mixture inside a spray bottle to make it more practical
  • Sprinkle the mixture on your shoes using the spray bottle. Make sure to focus on the dirty sections of your shoes. 
  • Scrub the shoes with a shoe brush. Make sure to repeat the process until the stains are gone
  • Rinse the shoes with warm water to get rid of baking soda and vinegar remnants
  • Dry the shoes by using a microfiber cloth


Yes, you can use bleach to clean canvas shoes. As a matter of fact, I have explained it before. However, using bleach is a viable option only when you own a pair of white canvas shoes. There’s a chance that bleach might change the color of your colored shoes, or even worse, permanently damage them. 

If you want to know the right way to use bleach on canvas shoes, make sure to check out the “how to clean white canvas” section. 


Hydrogen peroxide is a homemade item that can also act like bleach. In other words, hydrogen peroxide can help make your yellow canvas shoes white once more. Therefore, you can use hydrogen peroxide to clean white canvas shoes. I’ve tried using them once before, and it also produced the same result as bleach does. So, the choice is up to your preference or item availability.

Should you want to proceed to clean your white canvas shoes with hydrogen peroxide, then please take a look at my detailed instructions below:

  • Prepare hydrogen peroxide and a small brush (you can also use a toothbrush as an alternative)
  • Remove the shoelaces from your white canvas shoes
  • Apply the hydrogen peroxide on the dirty parts of your shoes
  • Scrub the dirty surface with your brush
  • Wait for 10-15 minutes to let the hydrogen peroxide do its job
  • Rinse your shoes to get rid of all the dirt, stains, and hydrogen peroxide
  • Clean your shoes by leaving them in front of a fan


Magic Eraser can definitely be used to clean your dirty canvas shoes. If you’ve been reading through my whole article, you’ll notice that if you want to clean your canvas shoes without water, a Magic Eraser can play a part in making them stay fresh and clean. All you need to do is to spray a small amount of water on the shoes. Then, wipe your Magic Eraser across the surface of your shoes. Shortly after, you can dry them by using a dry cloth.


You don’t have to be a professional to clean your dirty canvas shoes. If I can do it with my homemade items, you can do the same as well! Another daily product that you can use will be toothpaste. I love using toothpaste to clean my shoes, and it doesn’t always have to be canvas shoes. It also works best with a toothbrush (just like they work well to clean your teeth!). 

Alright, if you want to clean your canvas shoes with toothpaste, then you have to do it correctly. Here’s how!

  • Wet your toothbrush with water, then apply toothpaste on it
  • Scrub your toothbrush to get rid of dirty scuffs and stains on your canvas shoes. It’ll be better to do it carefully and in a circular motion. I’d usually take my time here
  • Wait for a while to let the toothpaste absorb the scuffs and stains
  • Wipe away the toothpaste excess with a cloth
  • Make sure that the shoes are completely dry before storing them back where they belong


How to Clean White Shoes | Apartment Therapy

If I can clean my canvas shoes with mild detergent, I might use soap and water as well! Don’t worry about any damages! I have tried using this method and it works wonders for me. However, I do suggest getting a mild dish soap in order to reduce any risks. 

  • Prepare a soapy solution inside a bucket
  • Remove the shoelaces from your shoes
  • Before using soap and water, I usually scrub my shoes with a soft brush to get rid of loose dirt and stains. When you neglect this step, there’s a chance that the dirt might go deeper inside your shoes when they come into contact with water
  • Dip your brush inside the soapy solution. 
  • Scrub it on the surface of your shoes. Do it in a circular motion
  • Wipe the shoes with a microfiber cloth
  • If they aren’t dry yet, leave them in front of a fan. I don’t recommend storing them unless they’re completely dry


How to clean canvas shoes

There’s good news for people who own canvas shoes: you can clean them inside a washing machine! Canvas shoes are quite strong and sturdy. Therefore, they won’t break easily, even when they’re washed in washing machine

  • Remove the shoelaces from your canvas shoes
  • Put your shoelaces inside a mesh bag and your canvas shoes inside another one
  • Put a small amount of laundry detergent inside your washing machine before you start the washing process
  • Insert both mesh bags inside the washing machine. Make sure to use the soft cycle in order to prevent damages on your shoes’ glue
  • After the process is done, let them out and dry them 
  • Put the shoelaces back on, then store them inside their original box


How to clean canvas shoes

Those of you who are following my article carefully might notice that there are a lot of ways to clean canvas shoes. But the question remains: which one can be considered as the best method or techniques? To be completely honest, I can’t really say! As a matter of fact, it’s a really subjective perspective. Some of you might consider washing your shoes inside a machine as the best way, while another group of people hail baking soda as the best way. 

For me personally, washing canvas shoes inside a washing machine might be the best way to clean canvas shoes. Aside from its effectiveness, you won’t need to spend as much time when compared to other methods. 


How to clean canvas shoes

Most of the items that I have mentioned here can get tough stains out of canvas shoes. The key is not the items per se, but attention to detail and patience. Baking soda can be used to get tough stains out of canvas shoes just like toothpaste does. However, you really need to take your time and scrub your brush repeatedly in order to achieve the satisfactory result. Remember, nothing can be achieved without hard work (unless you’re using a washing machine!). 


How to clean canvas shoes

Vinegar doesn’t ruin canvas. Instead, vinegar can be used to clean your dirty canvas shoes. But for the best result, vinegar can be mixed with baking soda to create a nice mixture that might eliminate dirt and stains. I have discussed this in a previous section, so make sure to check it out! Trust me, it’s really worth the read. 


How to clean canvas shoes

Not many people will think about it, but shaving cream does clean canvas shoes! If you decide to grow a beard, then your shaving cream can be used to clean your canvas shoes. Furthermore, it can actually be used to clean other types of shoes, like leather shoes, as well. 

Here’s some things you’ll be needing before proceeding to the next step:

  • Shaving cream
  • A small brush/toothbrush
  • A clean and dry cloth. You can also use a microfiber cloth

After preparing the items, let’s proceed to the next step:

  • Remove the laces from your shoes
  • Apply some of the cream on your hands or directly to the shoes
  • Scrub the shoes with a soft brush. Make sure to spread the cream across your shoes
  • Wipe your shoes with a wet cloth
  • Leave them in front of a fan to make them dry

Latest Post :


How to clean canvas shoes

Sometimes, tough stains might make all the methods that I have mentioned before fail. If that’s the case, you can try using a carpet cleaner as a last-ditch attempt. Basically, it has a similar walkthrough like any other methods that I have talked about. 

  • Spray the carpet cleaner on a clean towel
  • Wipe the towel across the shoes
  • Rinse the shoes with water
  • Let your canvas shoes dry


Having a pair of canvas shoes is great. However, you do need to clean them regularly in order to keep them fresh and awesome. Fortunately for you and me, there are a lot of things that you can use to clean canvas shoes, such as baking soda to a washing machine.