Neelum Waxed Canvas 101: How To Clean & Rewax Cotton Canvas Fabric

Whether you’re embarking on a road trip across the country or heading up the mountain for a last-minute camping trip, you need a travel bag that lasts as long as your trusty hiking boots. Enter waxed cotton canvas.

How To Clean & Rewax Cotton Canvas Fabric

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Why Is Cotton Canvas Used?

When you hear the words durability, functionality, and timelessness, what comes to mind? Maybe a cast iron skillet, handed down for generations, or a beloved worn-soft flannel. For us, waxed canvas is pretty high up the list.

Cotton canvas is incredibly sturdy and holds up well to everyday use, resisting rips or fading like no other material. Your cotton canvas bag will flex and strengthen with the weight of its contents, resisting stretching and tearing - and waxing this material brings even greater resilience through waterproofing and wind resistance.

Additionally, choosing a garment or accessory made with waxed canvas proves to be a sustainable choice: waxed canvas is often compared to whole-grain leather in terms of its longevity and timeless style, but is more budget-friendly (and animal-conscious to boot). Waxed canvas also develops its own patina after time, only looking better with age.

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How To Clean Waxed Canvas

Though waxed canvas is known for its durability, a time may come when your bag needs a little cleaning. This can easily be accomplished using items you already have at home.

Consider your waxed canvas bag to be the clothing equivalent of a cast iron pan: sturdy, but best served with a light touch. Gently scrub away dirt or grime with a stiff brush first, and then wipe down with a damp cloth if needed. We recommend you resort to soap only when absolutely necessary; then simply air-dry, and re-wax if needed.

However, stains happen; if your duffel bag is faced with a persistent oil stain, sprinkle the area with cornstarch and leave for 48 hours. When the waiting period is complete, brush off cornstarch with a stiff brush. Never dry-clean or machine-wash your waxed canvas duffel. If you treat your duffel bag with love, it’ll love you back for decades to come.

How To Re-Wax Cotton Canvas Fabric

Your cotton canvas bag comes waxed with beeswax, ensuring it’s lightweight and extremely durable. Throughout your adventures, you may notice that the wax begins to thin in your bag’s high-traffic areas (think seams and flaps). Luckily, re-waxing your canvas is a simple process you can easily do at home.

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We highly recommend Otter Wax for your at-home waxing use. Their large bar is comprised of beeswax and plant-based compounds to ensure a smooth and sturdy wax that will hold up throughout your adventures. However, your options are multiple: paraffin wax will re-wax beautifully (and is often more affordable than beeswax), and a combination of paraffin and beeswax will provide the benefits of both materials.

Now that you’ve settled on your preferred wax, it’s time to treat your canvas bag. In preparation, gather a stiff brush and lint roller if cleaning is needed, a heat source (like a hairdryer), and your wax of choice.


First, use a lint roller to remove any threads or debris that may have gathered on your bag throughout your travels, and ensure dust and dirt have been removed with a brush or damp cloth. This will ensure a smooth and even application.

Heat + Wax

1. Heat up the area that you’re wishing to re-wax with your hairdryer. Rub your wax of choice in broad, firm strokes onto your canvas bag, and knead it with your fingers.
2. Heat up the area again with your hairdryer, and continue working in the wax with your fingers if needed. The goal is to work the wax into the fabric, instead of allowing it to sit on top of the canvas.
3. Add a final coat of heat, then hang up your canvas bag in a warm, dry area. Allow it to cure for at least 24 hours.


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Timelessness Meets Functionality

True style is encompassed by an item that can be used for decades, requires little upkeep, and maintains a simple, durable appearance, no matter what you throw at it. In other words: your new cotton canvas bag.


Explore the Barebones Cotton Canvas Duffel Bag, Cotton Canvas Tote, and Cotton Canvas Dopp Kitt.

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