How to Take Care of Waxed Canvas Fabric

Item # X-HT-300503

DuraWax™ Waxed Canvas is a rugged, heavy-duty dyed cotton fabric that's an excellent alternative to leather. It is used to make bags, totes, duffles, jackets, backpacks and so much more. The wax coating makes the fabric extremely water resistant. As you handle and use your waxed canvas item, you'll notice that the wax coating might start to fade away. This is completely normal, and our blog will show you how easy it is to reapply a water-resistant wax coating to your project.

Our huge selection of DuraWax Waxed Canvas is waiting for your next project!

A big part of the appeal of waxed canvas is that the more you use it, the more worn-in the fabric becomes. It's a favorite among DIYers for its rugged and outdoorsy appearance. Over time, waxed canvas will lose some of its initial stiffness and will develop its characteristic weathered look. This is called a "patina effect" and is caused by the wax creasing and cracking as the material is wrinkled, folded and handled. As you use your waxed canvas bag, backpack, tote, etc., the wax will eventually wear away, making the canvas less water resistant than it was when it was new.

This is to be expected. The more you use your waxed canvas item, the quicker the wax will wear away. We recommend rewaxing your waxed canvas every year or so, especially if it sees a lot of time outdoors in the sun and rain. Luckily, re-treating your waxed canvas is a very easy and inexpensive process. All you need are a few basic supplies and a little elbow grease. You'll be amazed at how this simple process will restore your waxed canvas project to its original glory — making it look like new again!

How to Rewax Your Canvas

1. First, make sure your item is clean and dry. Do NOT wash waxed canvas in a washing machine! And definitely do not apply detergent to the fabric. If there are any dirt stains that can't be gently buffed away with a soft-bristle brush, spot clean with water and a gentle soap (like castile soap). You can also clean DuraWax fabric with Otter Wax Waxed Canvas Spot Cleaner (#122671) and Tampico Cleaning Brush (#122674).

Clean and wash waxed canvas.

If you have oil stains that have penetrated the fabric, apply cornstarch to the affected area. Let the cornstarch soak up the oil (up to 48 hours) and then brush it away. Repeat this step as necessary until all the oil has been absorbed from the canvas. Wash the area with water and a gentle soap and then let the canvas air dry. Do not place waxed canvas fabric in a dryer.

2. Wait until the fabric is fully dry, then use a lint roller or lint brush to remove lint and other small particles before applying the wax.

Use a lint roller to remove particles.

3. Use a bar of Otter Wax Heavy Duty Fabric Wax (#122672) and rub it in smooth, regular strokes across the fabric. The pressure you apply and the rubbing motion will warm up the wax, making it easy to spread. If your project is a combination of waxed canvas and other materials (leather, faux leather, upholstery fabric, etc.) pay careful attention to only rub the wax bar on the waxed canvas material.

Wax the canvas with Otter Wax Fabric Wax.

4. After rubbing the bar of wax thoroughly over the canvas's surface, use your fingers to work the wax into the canvas. You can also use the Otter Wax Smoothing Tool (#122675) to press the wax into the canvas. This is an important step, so take your time to ensure that the wax penetrates the canvas.

Smooth wax with Otter Wax Smoothing Tool.

5. Next, use a hair dryer on the "heat" setting to reheat the wax so that it coats the fabric evenly and smoothly.

Run hair dryer over wax to coat evenly.

6. Once you're satisfied with your waxing process, hang the item in a warm, dry location to cure, preferably in sunlight. Allow the item to cure for 24 to 48 hours.

Your waxed canvas is now restored to its original water resistance and pristine condition. If you'd like to learn more about waxed canvas, check out our "History & Benefits of Waxed Canvas" blog (#300502XHT). For tips and tricks on working with waxed canvas, read our blog "How to Sew Waxed Canvas Fabric" (#300504XHT).