Cleaning Fabric, Mesh and Canvas Shoes

Get ready to give your favourite fabric, mesh and canvas shoes a new lease on life. And the best part? You’ll already have most of the items you need at home. This quick and easy process will keep your favourite pairs of shoes looking fresh and extend their lifespan.

Before we jump in though, a quick note on washing machines - while many people do it, we don’t recommend throwing your sneakers in the washer. At best, this will weaken the glue and cause your shoes to fall apart more quickly. If your shoes feature any leather, suede, embellishments or jute, then that will ruin them entirely. On a performance level, especially for athletic shoes, this will also potentially ruin the structure of the shoes and any special fillings.


Without further ado, read on for our team of shoe experts' guide on how to clean fabric, canvas and mesh shoes by hand.       


  • Start off by removing the laces and brushing out any excess dirt with a soft-bristled brush, paper towel or cloth
  • Prepare a cleaning solution consisting of 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and 2 cups of warm water
    • Alternative cleaning solution: equal parts baking soda and warm water
    • Alternative cleaning solution: laundry detergent mixed with water
  • Using a toothbrush or soft cloth, dip that into your cleaning solution and gently work your way all around the shoe, in small sections at a time. It’s important to do the whole shoe and work in the direction of the fabric to maintain colour consistency and prevent unsightly spots. 
  • Remove any residue using a clean damp cloth. Repeat this process as many times as necessary.
  • For the baking soda solution - leave the mixture on the shoe for 15 minutes before wiping it off to allow it to work. Then wipe off the hardened residues with a damp cloth. 
  • Leave the shoes to dry naturally away from direct sunlight

Canvas Shoes:

  • Again start off by removing the laces and wiping off any dried dust and dirt first
  • Prepare your solution of 1 teaspoon of laundry detergent with 2 quarts of warm water
  • Begin by pre-treating any stains by dabbing on a little bit of laundry detergent on the dirty spot and then working it in using a soft-bristled brush
  • Using a sponge or cloth, scrub the outside and inside of the shoe using the solution you prepared
  • Wipe down the residue with a clean cloth dipped in water and repeat the process until you’ve ‘rinsed’ the shoe well
  • To get rid of scuff marks on your soles, a magic eraser and a bit of elbow grease will do the trick
  • Leave the shoes to dry naturally away from direct sunlight. You can use an absorbent towel to speed up the drying process
  • Soak your laces in a little bit of the same solution    


Mesh Sneakers:

A note: these are usually more delicate than fabric and canvas and require a little more care when cleaning.

  • Remove the laces and gently brush your shoes with a soft-bristled brush to dislodge any dried dirt
  • Prepare a mixture of one part baking soda and one part white vinegar
  • Apply the mixture to the dirty spots, letting it sit for 15 minutes before gently scrubbing for a minute or two
  • Alternatively, you can try a different formula consisting of gentle laundry detergent mixed with warm water, which you can apply using a soft cloth
  • Wipe the shoe clean with a wet cloth to rinse off any residue

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