How to Wax Canvas At Home

A waxed canvas is a cotton canvas that has been soaked in wax and is resistant to water. Mariners in the 19th century were the first to use waxed canvas as sailcloth. It is strong and looks like worn leather. The is a waterproof canvas material that is widely used in the bag industry. Bag makers usually use this to make waxed canvas backpacks, messenger and totes, the material has a vintage feel and look.

How is waxed canvas made?

The waxed canvas came out during a time when sailboats were getting better. The sailors had noticed that when their sails were wet, the wind could move them better because the water filled the spaces between the meshes of the fabric.

But the wet sails made the boat too heavy. Because of this, they made them completely waterproof by putting wax on them to keep them working. Since then, and even now, waxing canvas has been mostly used because it doesn't let water through. It is used to make things like tents, backpacks, outdoor gear, etc., likely to be exposed to harsh weather.

Even though the texture and comfort of waxed canvas may seem "rough" at first, it gets more refined and softer over time, giving it a "patinated" look.

How it looks and feels?

  • Waxed canvas feels like wax and gets a rough, mottled look as it wears. The surface is easy to crease and mark, adding to the fabric's face. If you want to emphasize this, you can scrunch it up on purpose and smooth it out. On the market today, waxing canvas fabric comes in several different weights.

  • You might notice discoloration around the edges when you get your waxed canvas for the first time. Don't worry about it! This is probably because the wax was relatively easy when rolled up and packed to be sent to us. If you want to speed up the curing process, lay your canvas flat in a warm, clean place overnight. In the morning, you should no longer see the spot.

  • Waxing canvas fabric has a natural feel and weight that bags or clothes made from synthetic materials don't have. Even empty, a waxed canvas bag has some significance; when you run your fingers over it, it feels strong. The canvas and waterproofing wax are heavy due to the heavy gauge cotton used in their manufacture.

How would you clean a Waxed Canvas?

  • Shake or brush off the dirt, sand, or anything else that could scratch.
  • Use cold water and a sponge or soft brush to scrub.
  • DO NOT use soap!
  • Massage the dirty area with your hands.
  • Use a sponge and cold water to rinse.
  • Let the clothes dry in the air.

Why has the wax on your canvas changed color?

When you first get your canvas, you may notice that the edges aren't the same color. Don't worry about it! This is because the wax was relatively easy when it was rolled up and packed to ship from the factory. The easiest way to speed up the curing process is to lay your canvas flat in a clean, warm place overnight. Once you awake in the morning, the spot should no longer be there.

Can you wax canvas?

Heavy cotton fabrics like denim, canvas, and rich cotton/synthetic blends work well for waxing. These fabrics are found in backpacks, aprons, pants, and jackets.

What kind of wax to use on canvas?

Most waxed canvas is made with wax made from paraffin, but there are also hybrid waxes that use both paraffin and fluorocarbon to make the canvas more water resistant. Natural waxes like beeswax can also be used to make waxed canvas, but this is a more expensive way to do it.

How do you wax raw canvas?

Apply the wax on the canvas in a bar soap fashion. Use large, continuous strokes. Wax will melt from the heat and friction, making it simpler to apply to the fabric. The bar's edges and corners can be used to reach into tight spaces or to get a closer look at things like rivets and leather. These things are best left alone. Canvas and raw denim are best cleaned with a hose or soaked in cold water and dried on a clothesline. Do not try to speed up the ageing of the shirt or vest artificially.

How often should you wax canvas?

It's fine to re wax your whole product every year or two, depending on how often you use it. The wax finish on in their waxed canvas lasts a long time and makes it very durable.

Waxed canvas: Where to buy it?

Waxed canvas is becoming more popular because it is good for the environment and has a vintage look. You can now find several suppliers on Etsy and Amazon. British Millerain, the company that made the first ones, is still in business. However, they tend to focus on waxed cotton products. America now has the best wholesale waxing canvas makers, such as Big Duck Canvas, Canvas ETC,, and Carr Textiles.

How to get waxed canvas ready to use?

The answer is easy: put it to use. Don't listen to advice on the Internet that says to put the item in a washing machine.

Waxed Canvas with leather:

Leather and waxed canvas go well together because they both last a long time and get a nice patina. Because of this, they are being used together more and more in fashion accessories. For example, any canvas washbag's top is made of waxing canvas with beeswax to protect it from splashes and spills. The bottom is made of strong full-grain brown leather.

Canvas vs waxed canvas:

Canvas is strong and hard to tear because it is made with a tight weave. It is also windproof but still lets air through. Canvas can be washed by hand or in a washing machine. Canvas is strong and durable, and waxed canvas is the same way but also waterproof. It doesn't breathe as well as canvas, but it's still much more comfortable to wear than most synthetics. Waxed canvas is better at keeping dirt away than traditional canvas, but you should wait to wash it in a machine.

Leather vs waxed canvas:

Not all waxed canvas is the same quality, and neither is all leather. The type of fibers used, the thickness of the weave, and the way the canvas is waxed all affect its quality. Full-grain leather, which is the best kind, goes all the way down to bonded leather, which is made from reconstituted leather shavings stuck together. Let's say they're comparing high-quality waxed canvas to full-grain leather. The leather bag will be stronger, and a small hole won't make it fall apart like a hole in canvas might. The waxed canvas bag will keep water out much better. Both packs will last a lifetime, but they will both need minimal maintenance. Waxed canvas and full-grain leather improve with age and acquire a rich patina. Waxing canvas with beeswax has an old-fashioned look and is a performance fabric, but it doesn't have the image of being sporty that synthetic materials do. 

Waxed Canvas vs Oilskin:

Oilskin was first made from cotton that had linseed oil soaked into it. It was the first waterproof material that fishermen and sailors used. It is now a generic term, called "oilies," for any waterproof clothing worn at sea. It is now made of plastic-coated cloth, nylon, or Gortex. This is special clothing made to keep you dry in the rain. In the past, waxed canvas was used this way, but now it is valued for its durability and good looks, so it is used for outdoor activities on land and as fashion accessories.

Ballistic Nylon vs Waxed Canvas:

During the Second World War, DuPont developed a material called "ballistic nylon" to stop shrapnel from going through flak jackets. It is made from nylon yarn, is very strong, doesn't get wet, and looks shiny. It is hard to dye, so it is usually black and used to make motorcycle jackets, expedition backpacks, and heavy-duty luggage. It is an artificial material that is used in specialized equipment. Waxed canvas is also durable and waterproof, but it is also a nice-looking material used more and more in the fashion industry to make accessories. It's nice to touch, and it gets a rich patina as it ages.

Oilcloth vs waxed canvas:

Oilcloth was another early way to keep things dry, and sailors often used them. Linseed oil was boiled and spread on linen or cotton to make a greasy and damp material. Waxed canvas is a heavier, stronger, and more durable material made by putting wax into the fibers of the linen. It is used for outdoor activities, and because it is strong, flexible, and looks good, it is also being used more and more for fashion accessories.

Cordura vs waxed canvas:

Cordura is the brand name for a type of synthetic fabric first made by DuPont. Now, the term is used to describe a wide range of products with similar qualities. Because of the way the textured fibres are made, Cordura is very resistant to wear and is also waterproof. It is used to make military gear and expedition packs. On the other hand, Waxed canvas is made from natural and organic materials. It is strong, durable, and waterproof, but it can't compare to Cordura in these ways. Waxed canvas, however, is much easier to work with and ages well, like full-grain leather. Because of this, it is becoming an increasingly popular choice for making fashion accessories.

Waxed Canvas is mostly used for:

Waxed canvas was first made as a waterproof fabric for use in the military and on ships. It has since been replaced by several synthetic products that are stronger and repel water better. After the Second World War, army surplus stores sold waxed canvas to the public, and people started using it for fun. This eco-friendly fabric has become more popular in the last few decades. This is partly because it is a good vegan alternative to leather. After all, it is durable and waterproof, partly because it has a cool retro look. It works like a synthetic utility fabric, but it doesn't look sporty or make you think of the military. Waxed canvas is now used to make clothes for the outdoors that are both stylish and tough. It is also popular for making messenger bags, totes, duffle bags, and even briefcases because it is strong, last a long time, and don’t get wet. It is waterproof and breathable, so it is a good choice for a fabric that will be worn next to the skin, like a hat. Even though there are stronger materials, it is still popular for making useful things like tool rolls. 

What should you NOT do to your waxed canvas?

  • Never use a washing machine to clean waxed canvas.
  • Never clean it with warm or hot water.
  • Could you not get it dry-cleaned?
  • Never use soap, detergent, solvent or starch-based stiffener.

How do you use Waxed Canvas to sew?

Pressing and pinning:

There will be flaws.

This is something to remember once stitching with or buying waxed canvas. The wax is easily wrinkled and scratched, but this is all part of the fabric's style. The way it looks is meant to change as you use it. You can also press it by hand, purposely "distress" the fabric, which will soften and loosen any deep creases, hang it in a warm, clean place overnight, or use a heat gun or hair dryer. Pins can sometimes leave holes that can be seen, so try to pin carefully within the seam allowances or use wonder clips instead. When you sew with waxed fabric, every hole you make with your needle or pins will be visible. When you make a mistake and need to seam rip a line of stitches, you can use your iron or hair dryer to make the holes in the waxed fabric disappear. They will disappear.

Use a pressing cloth if you iron it:

Most of the time, you'll be able to press things with your fingers, but sometimes you'll need an iron. When you iron, use a pressing cloth to keep the wax from building up. The heat from your iron can melt the waxes and oils, so use a press cloth to protect it and set it to medium.

Use a clapper to press:

A clapper lets you put pressure and steam on the fabric for longer, so you can get crisp edges without touching the iron to the material. Just use your iron to make steam, then quickly press down on the clapper and press down on the fabric with your body as it cools. As you press, the clapper traps steam in the cloth. They like this method better than ironing the canvas, but you'll need to use a pressing cloth to protect the surface under the waxed canvas.


Use the correct needle:

As with any new sewing project, putting a fresh, sharp needle in your machine is important. The best size for waxed canvas is 100/16 or 100/18. For a professional, attractive stitch, you can use the heavy-duty thread and a longer stitch length of 3 when sewing on fabrics that tend to grab; a roller foot or a foot covered in Teflon can help. If you have a quilting foot that "walks" instead of sliding along the fabric's surface, you can also try that. Find the best combination for your machine at all times.

Care after

Get your machine clean:

After sewing with waxed canvas, clean your machine well to eliminate any wax build-up that might have happened. Wipe down the surfaces and use a new needle for your next project.

When should you wax your Waxed Canvas again?

Even though this depends on how often you wear or use the fabric, it is best to re wax your item once a year if you use it often. To clean the canvas, spray it with water. If the water doesn't roll off or gets soaked up, it's time to re wax.

How do you re wax your Waxed Canvas?

  • Follow the steps above to clean your waxed canvas.
  • Get a container of hot water, a C4X wax bar, and a small tin or bowl that will fit in the water.
  • Choose a warm room or a warm day outside.
  • To soften the bar, put it in the tin or bowl in a hot water pan.
  • Work the wax well into the garment, a small section at a time, paying special attention to seams, creases, and dry spots.
  • Don't just paint it on; rub it in.
  • Use less wax.
  • For a "factory" look, use a hairdryer to dry the hair evenly and help the wax soak into the fibers.
  • Hang the item in a warm place overnight to let the wax dry.

Why does the canvas not get wet?

Cotton fibers get bigger when wet like wine barrels do when each plank gets bigger and seals against the next. Cotton string is the same way. Each string swells up against the string next to it, making it impossible for water to get through. As the cotton wears down and breaks down, holes start forming, and water will leak. What begins as a trickle can quickly become a flood. Their ancestors devised clever waxy solutions to this problem, which is good news 


Canvas is a type of woven cotton. Canvas which has been allowed to treat with wax to start making it waterproof and last longer is called waxed canvas. Everything about Wax Cotton was talked about above.

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