How to Clean and Care for Waxed Canvas

by - Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Known for its durable nature and effortlessly cool vibe, waxed canvas is a long-time staple in high-quality goods. 

Whether you’re sporting a rugged tote on your daily commute or packing up a sturdy dopp kit for a weekend getaway, waxed canvas pieces are as practical as they are stylish. But to keep them looking their best, a little TLC is required. 

So, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of how to care for this hardy material, ensuring your Marleylilly favorites stay in tip-top shape.

What is Waxed Canvas?

Waxed canvas is the Hercules of fabrics — strong, durable, and resistant to the elements. It's a heavy-duty cotton canvas that’s been thoroughly soaked in wax, giving it a water-resistant and tough-as-nails quality. Born out of necessity, it was initially used for ship sails. 

Today, it’s a beloved material for all sorts of gear, from rugged outdoor apparel to our stylish bags. The beauty of waxed canvas lies in its ability to withstand wear and tear while developing a rich, characterful patina over time. Each scuff and fold adds to its story, making every waxed canvas item a personal testament to your adventures.

Why is Waxed Canvas a Great Choice?

Using waxed canvas is a choice that speaks to a lifestyle. Here's why it’s a top pick for those who value both function and form:

  • Adaptable to Your Journey: Whether you're walking through city streets or trekking through the wilderness, waxed canvas adapts to your environment. It's as fitting for an urban setting as it is for the great outdoors.
  • Ages Gracefully: This fabric evolves. Over time, waxed canvas develops a unique patina, telling a story that’s uniquely yours. It's like carrying a piece of your history with you.
  • A Friend to the Environment: In a world where sustainability matters more than ever, choosing long-lasting materials is key. Waxed canvas reduces the need for frequent replacements, aligning with eco-conscious choices.
  • Distinctive Yet Understated: Something about waxed canvas strikes the perfect balance between standing out and blending in. It’s a subtle statement piece that complements a variety of fashion choices.
  • Practicality Meets Style: This fabric doesn’t force you to choose between looking good and being practical. Waxed canvas delivers both, making it a smart choice for those who don’t want to compromise.

In a nutshell, waxed canvas is a versatile, stylish, and eco-friendly choice that caters to a wide range of needs and preferences, making it an ideal choice for those who value both aesthetics and functionality in their daily lives.

How Should You Clean Waxed Canvas?

Let's roll up our sleeves and get into the how-to of keeping your waxed canvas gear in pristine condition. Cleaning this fabric isn't rocket science but requires some know-how. 

Here are the steps to ensure your waxed canvas items continue to look fantastic and function flawlessly:

Brush Off Dirt and Debris

Start by gently brushing off any loose dirt or debris with a soft brush. It’s like tickling the surface — you don’t need to go hard. Just a light sweep will do.

Spot Clean with Cold Water

Dip a cloth or sponge in cold water for those pesky spots and gently rub the area. Remember, waxed canvas and hot water are not best buddies. Cold water maintains the integrity of the wax.

Use a Mild Soap for Tougher Stains

If cold water doesn’t do the trick, use a mild soap — think baby shampoo or a gentle dish soap. Apply it sparingly with a soft brush or cloth, working in a circular motion. It’s like giving your item a mini spa treatment.

Rinse Off Soap Gently

After treating the spot, rinse the area with cold water. Avoid soaking the fabric — it's more of a gentle dab than a deep dive.

Air Dry Thoroughly

Patience is key here. Let your waxed canvas item air dry completely, away from direct heat or sunlight. It’s like sunbathing — you don’t want to overdo it.

Re-Wax as Needed

Over time, you might find the wax wearing off. When this happens, it’s time for a re-wax. You can buy a wax bar and follow the manufacturer's instructions. It’s like feeding your canvas a delicious meal to keep it strong and healthy.

Avoid Machine Washing and Dry Cleaning

This is a big no-no. Waxed canvas should never take a trip in your washing machine or visit a dry cleaner. The harsh processes can strip away the wax, leaving your item feeling lost and unprotected.

What Are the Do’s and Don’ts of Caring for Waxed Canvas?

Now that we've got the basics down, let's delve into the finer points of waxed canvas care. Like any good relationship, it's about knowing what works and what doesn’t. 

Here are some essential do's and don'ts:


  • Refresh with Re-Waxing Regularly: It's like a boost of energy for your canvas. Over time, the wax can wear off, especially in high-use areas. A fresh coat will revitalize its water-resistant properties and keep it looking sharp. You can try this with our Waxed Canvas Cooler, keeping it ready for all your outdoor excursions.
  • Embrace the Patina: One of the coolest things about waxed canvas is how it ages. Each mark and crease tells a story, so don't be afraid of a few scuffs. It adds character and personalizes your item.
  • Use for Various Occasions: Waxed canvas is incredibly versatile. Whether it’s a rugged field trip or a casual city outing, pieces like our Monogrammed Waxed Canvas Laptop Case are perfect companions, blending durability with style.


  • Avoid Over-Cleaning: Less is more when it comes to cleaning waxed canvas. Frequent washing can strip the wax and reduce the fabric's lifespan. Spot cleaning is usually enough to keep it looking great.
  • Steer Clear of Harsh Chemicals: Harsh detergents and chemicals can damage the wax coating. Stick to gentle, natural cleaning solutions to maintain the integrity of the fabric.
  • Keep Away From High Heat: High temperatures can melt the wax and ruin the fabric's texture. Always air dry your waxed canvas items away from direct heat sources.

Additional Tips:

  • Regular Inspection: Regularly check your waxed canvas items for any signs of wear or tear. Pay special attention to seams and creases where wear might be more pronounced. Early detection means easier maintenance.
  • Avoid Folding: Store your waxed canvas items rolled up rather than folded. This can help prevent hard creases, which may weaken the wax coating over time. It's like storing a precious painting — you want to maintain its integrity.
  • Mind the Accessories: When cleaning if your waxed canvas item has leather or metal parts, be mindful of these. Leather and metal may require different care, and it's important not to neglect these details.
  • Handling Spills: In the event of a spill, act quickly. Blot (don’t rub) the spill gently with a clean, dry cloth. This helps prevent the spill from setting in and becoming a permanent fixture on your canvas.
  • Dealing with Odors: If your waxed canvas item starts to hold onto odors, a gentle airing out can do wonders. Sometimes, a little fresh air is all it needs to refresh.
  • Know When to Seek Professional Help: Sometimes, a DIY approach might not cut it, especially for stubborn stains or significant wear. In such cases, consulting a professional specializing in waxed canvas care can be wise.
  • Re-Wax with Precision: When re-waxing, apply the wax evenly and sparingly. Too much wax can make the fabric stiff and heavy, while too little won't offer adequate protection. It's all about finding that happy medium.
  • Personalization Care: If your waxed canvas item is personalized, take extra care around the monogrammed areas during cleaning to ensure the personalization remains intact and vibrant.

With the right care, your waxed canvas items will serve you well and become more and more meaningful over time.

A Final Word

At Marleylilly, we're all about making memories with gear that stands the test of time. Armed with these tips and tricks, you're all set to keep your waxed canvas pieces looking as fabulous as the day you got them. 

Remember, whether it's a rugged adventure or a stylish city outing, waxed canvas is your reliable partner through it all. So, treat your waxed canvas with a little love, and it will return the favor tenfold, accompanying you on countless journeys and gaining more character with each one.

Here's to many more adventures with your trusty waxed canvas companions, made even more special by your care and attention. Check out our blog to learn more tips on caring for your precious items.


WAXED COTTON definition in American English | Collins English Dictionary

What Is Patina—and How Does It Differ From Rust and Tarnish? | Martha Stewart

Is A Fully-Sustainable World Within Reach? | Strategic Discussions for Nebraska

Stain Removal Guide | The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

You May Also Like


  1. There is really a lot of useful and interesting information here. But I most often convert to specialists. After all, cleanliness and order is what makes our home cozy and pleasant to live in. And maid services in Bothell wa can guarantee this. If anyone uses the services of other companies, share the result.