Canvas is a coarse cloth material made of hemp that is used in a number of things including sails, tents, boards (used for painting on, i.e. painting canvasses) and shoes. The canvas shoe is a very basic form of casual shoe or sneaker. It is constructed very simply with a canvas upper and a rubber sole. Canvas shoes can be purchased in high top or low top and are available in almost any color you could ask for. Some canvas shoes, especially those made for children, have cute designs on them as well. On the other hand canvas shoes do not have much shock absorption, cushioning or support and therefore are not suitable for any type of “pounding the pavement” sort of activities. If you run, do aerobics, play tennis or any other sports then go in for an honest to goodness pair of sneakers and leave the canvas shoes for the beach or backyard. Canvas shoes are fun, casual, and versatile and are also not that pricey. You can buy a decent pair of them for anywhere from twenty to thirty dollars (and sometimes less).
A big advantage of canvas shoes is that they are a “low maintenance” and “no fuss” kind of shoe. In other words taking care of them is a snap. First of all it is a good idea to protect your canvas shoes before wearing them (or even better, upon first purchasing them) by applying a cloth care spray or starch to them. If you have sensitive skin it is wise to wear vinyl or rubber gloves when you spray your shoes and then give your hands a good washing afterwards. If you have asthma or any other respiratory problem always wear a mask and if the spray gets into your eyes or causes your skin any irritation then rinse immediately with lots of water.
Canvas shoes can easily be thrown in the washing machine when they are dirty. Before you do so always remove any surface dirt from the sole or sides of the shoe with a slightly damp cloth. If the shoes are caked in mud then gently scrub them with a soft brush and water first. Any commercial detergent (such as Tide, Ivory Snow, Sunlight or Gain) should get them nice and clean. It is advisable to remove the laces and either wash them with the canvas shoes, hand wash them or wash them the next time you do a load of laundry. Canvas shoes can easily be hung up on a line to air dry. They generally should be ready to wear in a relatively short period of time.
If you wear a pair of canvas shoes in the wintertime (although this is not recommended- too cold!) and end up with thin white wavy lines on the upper of the sole, with a concentration of them around the sole of the shoe then these are salt stains from the road and must be removed as soon as possible. If left in place, salt stains will cause the canvas to go hard and then crack and the stitching is likely to unfortunately, rot away. Avoid this by washing your canvas shoes with a ‘suede and fabric’ shampoo and then set them somewhere to air dry. Never allow canvas shoes to dry by placing them near a radiator, fireplace or any other form of direct heat as the intensity of the heat is likely to destroy the material of the shoe.
Canvas shoes don’t always retain their natural shape and sometimes it is because of the way we wear them such as how we walk in them. Some people put more weight on one side of their shoe than the other and this could potentially serve to wear down the sole or heel of a shoe and cause the upper to be stretched unnecessarily. To remedy this problem, use shoetrees (which can be purchased at most department and fine shoe stores) or pack the toes of your shoes with newspaper (or regular paper) to help them retain their original shape. And keep in mind that shoelaces need to be replaced once in awhile. Always tie up your laces and don’t buy ones that are either too long (dangerous and sloppy looking, not to mention they get dirty so easily) or too short (they will draw the shoe together unnaturally to compensate for their lack of length).