Removing Stains from Canvas

by April Reinhardt
(last updated May 11, 2015)

Used in the fabrication of tents, backpacks, purses, canoes, sails, and sneakers, just to name a few applications, canvas is an extremely durable, heavy-duty, sturdy fabric. Canvas is also stretched over a wooden frame to use as a painting surface. Back in the day, when I was growing up in the 70's, Converse All-Star high-top white sneakers were popular for gym class, made of canvas, and cost very little. We often wore our canvas sneakers on weekends, playing in the dirt and mud, and Mom would throw them in the washing machine periodically to wash away the grime, leaving sweat and mud stains permanently within the fabric after a thumping round through the dryer's heat. Today, Converse sneakers are now considered a high-end shoe, coming in many colors, and costing nearly $100 a pair. I had to buy a pair for my step-daughter for school this year, and she and her friends try to keep them in pristine condition. I want to keep them looking good-as-new, too, since I don't want to fork over another $100 for a new pair. My dilemma was removing the stains from the canvas, and I found that these methods work best. No matter what item you have that is made of canvas – a purse, backpack, tent, or shoes – follow these guidelines for removing stains from light-colored canvas:
  1. Mix into a bucket one gallon of warm water with one-quarter cup each of Ivory liquid dish detergent and Clorox Color-Safe bleach.
  2. Thrust a washcloth into the bucket, and gently rub the solution all over the canvas, especially into the nooks and crannies.
  3. Rinse the canvas with plain, cool water.
  4. Allow the fabric to air-dry.

For darker canvas, and for difficult stains, follow these steps to clean the canvas:

  1. Allow mud and dirt to dry completely, and then shake the canvas free of the debris.
  2. Wash the canvas in warm water mixed with baking soda.
  3. Rinse with cool water.
  4. Use a non-abrasive soft pad with a mild dish detergent and hot water to scrub away remaining stains and dirt.
  5. If you've mold on your canvas, use a solution of equal parts of rubbing alcohol and warm water, and then you use stiff brush to apply the solution to the mold spots. Rinse with clear water and allow to air dry.

If you've made the mistake of bleaching your canvas, with resulting yellow stains, soak the fabric in a solution of one-half cup of cream of tartar and one quart of hot water. Allow the fabric to sit overnight, and then rinse in cool water.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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