The humble tennis shoe or sneaker has become one of the most popular varieties of footwear around these days. Such canvas shoes have also gotten fashionable and even become very expensive.

Canvas shoes are also real easy to get dirty and very hard to clean. They are also real easy to destroy or damage if you don’t know how to clean them properly. Many people refuse to even try to clean to canvas shoes, yet nobody wants to walk around with dirty shoes either.

Fortunately, it is easier to restore the bright white look of your shoes without damaging them if you know how to properly clean them. There are also a few tricks you can resort to in order to keep your shoes looking clean. Here’s a basic rundown of how you should keep your canvas shoes clean.

What Will You Need for Cleaning Canvas Shoes?

Here’s a list of what you will need to clean your canvas shoes. There are actually two methods for cleaning canvas shoes, both of which require the same materials.

  • Liquid laundry detergent or dish detergent

  • A toothbrush

  • Water

  • Bowl

  • Baking soda

  • Baking Powder

  • A small soft cloth

  • A can of spray starch

  • Cornstarch

  • Cream shoe polish in the shoes’ color

  • Laundry stain remover

  • Ziploc bag

  • Essential oil, such as lavender or sage

How to Clean Canvas Shoes

The two most common methods of cleaning canvas shoes are the washing machine method and the hand method. Both of these methods work well, but the hand method is recommended for more expensive shoes because washers can damage them.

The Washing Machine Method


  1. Use the toothbrush to remove any dirt or debris from the shoes.

  2. If you notice any bad stains, you can use a laundry stain remover to remove them. Be careful because this can damage your shoes. Make sure the stain remover does not contain bleach, and never use bleach on the shoes.

  3. Mix water and baking soda in a bowl to create a paste.

  4. Put the paste on the toothbrush, and use it to clean the soles of the shoes. Then wipe the soles clean with the cloth.

  5. Take the laces out of the shoes because they can get damaged in the washer.

  6. Start running a gentle wash cycle in your washing machine with cold water.

  7. When the cycle is half done, add a small amount of laundry detergent.

  8. When the cycle is ¾ done, put the shoes in.

The Hand Method


  1. Simply follow the first three suggestions above.

  2. Fill a large bowl with cold water.

  3. Mix some liquid laundry detergent or dish soap with the water.

  4. Put your shoes in the water, and move them around with your hands.

  5. Rinse the shoes off with cold water.

  6. Use a towel to pat the shoes dry.

You can also watch the following video as reference.

  • Dry the shoes in the air. Never put shoes in the dryer, because it can destroy the soles and damage the dryer. The best method for drying shoes is to simply set them out in the sun for a few hours. During the winter, you can you speed up the process by setting the shoes on a heating vent. To protect the shape of your shoes, you should ball up a towel or some paper towels and use that to fill the inside of the shoe.
  • After the shoe is clean, it is a good idea to add shoe powder, which disinfects it and gets rid of odors and moisture. This can get rid of the fungus that causes athlete’s foot and can prevent cuts from getting infected. If you use a commercial shoe powder, simply follow the instructions on the package. Commercial shoe powders are available at most drug stores, discount stores, and supermarkets.
  • If you want, you can make your own shoe powder by mixing baking powder, baking soda, an essential oil such as lavender or tea tree oil, and cornstarch in a Ziploc bag and shaking it well. You should add an essential oil because essential oils will kill germs and fungi, including the one that causes athlete’s foot. Put the powder in the shoes overnight, and dump it out the next morning.
  • Spraying a thin layer of spray starch on your shoes can keep them firmer and cleaner. Make sure you only use the spray after the shoes are completely dry, and follow all the instructions.
  • A great way to get rid of stains is to use a cream shoe polish in the color of your shoes. Simply use a soft cloth to apply the polish to stains and cover them up thoroughly. Only apply the shoe polish after you’ve thoroughly cleaned the shoes because dirt can get trapped under the polish.
  • Make sure the shoes are completely dry before you wear them again. Wet shoes can be breeding grounds for fungi, including athlete’s foot, and they can be very uncomfortable to wear, particularly on a cold day.
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