Can You Dye Canvas? (How to Dye Canvas Shoes Easily)

Repairing laundry mistakes. These little errors happen all the time. The key is not to get upset or whine about the problem. Just learn how to fix them in the best way possible, learn from the mistake and move on. That way when new mistakes happen you can solve them easier and faster.

Can you dye canvas? Canvas is made from cotton which means that the latter material can be dyed. That is if it has not been treated with wax or waterproof chemicals. To dye canvas shoes easily buy a box of dye made for cotton and follow the instructions. It is the simplest way to go.

To learn how to dye canvas materials of all shapes and sizes just continue to read our article. It explores the issue so you have the right information to use when it is time to change your canvas item’s colors. Shoes may be the easiest item of all to dye.

Can Canvas Be Dyed?


Yes, canvas can be dyed unless the maker of the canvas item placed wax or waterproof materials on the fabric before shipping it out to be sold. Another problem will be the size of the canvas material you want to change color.

If it is a large piece of fabric your washing machine, soaking tubs, or other buckets may not be big enough to handle the task. Then it will depend on what color you want to dye the fabric.

It is said that black is the hardest color to get and it requires really hot water as well as a lot of salt and dye. Even if you do that your efforts may be in vain as the color may come out a dark blue or brownish color.

Then you may have a little trouble getting the dye to distribute evenly leaving you with both dark and light splotches that will ruin the look of the material you are trying to color.

Before you buy the dye make sure you have large enough tools, depending on the size of the canvas, and enough other ingredients on hand. Also, make sure you can get the water really hot.

What Dye To Use on Canvas

Since canvas is usually made from natural fibers, a good reactive dye made for cotton would be the best choice. The instructions are already included so you know how to proceed. Just make sure your dyeing tools fit the size of the canvas item you are trying to alter the color.

The key to a successful dyeing task is to check to see if the canvas has been treated or not. If it has then you will find that dyeing is not really a viable option for you. If it hasn’t then canvas is an excellent material to alter the color because it accepts and holds dyes very well.

There are three main ways to dye canvas material. How successful those ways are depends on the size of the material you are dyeing. There is the bucket method, good for shoes and other small canvas items.

Then there is the washing machine method for larger items and then finally there is the dye paint method which should work on extra-large canvas tarps, awnings, and so on. The only different dye material you will use may come with that 3rd option. It will be a powder, not a liquid.

Dye Canvas With Coffee

If coffee works on other cotton items, it should work on cotton canvas. Then you should be able to use the same methods on this material as you do on other cotton clothing. The size of the canvas will play a significant role in what tubs you use.

All you need to do is brew enough coffee to make sure you get the shade of color you want. That may mean brewing large pots or two or three small pots but you will have to be the judge on how much coffee to use.

If possible, make sure to wash the canvas first to remove any stains or dirt that may impede the dyeing process. Do not dry but leave damp and submerge the damp cloth into the coffee. The coffee should be hot and be careful it doe snot boil the water on you.

Wait an hour to see if you gave the coffee enough time to reach the shade you want and if the coffee was strong enough to make that change. For darker colors soak longer and brew really strong coffee.

Dye Canvas With Tea


This is the same principle and process as dyeing canvas with coffee. Make sure to check to see if there is no wax on the material or any waterproofing coatings. Then clean the canvas if it is old or just simply dampen a new canvas cloth.

Brew about 40 tea bags in one pot and let them steep for about 15 minutes. Then add the canvas item you want to be dyed and wait for the usual hour before checking it. For darker shades use more tea bags and a longer soaking period.

Remember that when wet the canvas will look darker than it really is. For both coffee and tea, rinse in cold water when you are finished. Add a little vinegar to that water to set the color and then wash in Woolite, or something similar to rid the canvas of the coffee or tea odor.

For both options, you can always repeat the process if the color did not get dark enough the first time. It is also possible to use the dryer for about 30 minutes to get the canvas item dry.

Tie-Dye Canvas With Sharpies

It is possible to dress up canvas handbags, other bags, and shoes by using sharpies in a form of tie-dyeing. All you will need to get the job done is multi colors of sharpies, some rubbing alcohol, the canvas shoes, bag or tarp, and a medicine dropper.

Step one is to remove the shoelaces unless you want them to be a colored mess. Step two, use the sharpies to place your design on the canvas and in the color order you want. Step three, fill the medicine dropper with the rubbing alcohol, 91% is best.

Then drop the rubbing alcohol on the sharpie colors and let those colors spread. It is that simple and easy to do. If you want the colors to spread more slowly or not as far use a lower percentage of rubbing alcohol.

You can also use a syringe to drop the alcohol if you do not have a medicine dropper handy. Plus, this is the best technique to use on canvas hats, and other clothing accessories you may own.

Tie-Dye Canvas With Acrylic Paint

There is a little more equipment involved with this option and you will need bright acrylic paint colors, several plastic bowls, rubbing alcohol, squeeze and spray bottles, paintbrushes, rubber gloves, a protective tarp, rubber bands, and old clothes.

Step one has you pouring out some acrylic paints in different bowls and then adding an equal amount of rubbing alcohol to each color. Step two, mix the two ingredients with a paintbrush and strain the mixture through the strainer.

Step four has you moistening the canvas with the spray bottles. They need to be filled with water. Next, use the rubber bands to hold any twists and turns you placed in the canvas, and then use the squeeze bottle to put the paint onto the material

Put enough paint on to saturate but not enough where the paint drips. Add several different colors before letting it dry and once dry you can heat set by placing the canvas in the dryer for a short time. Hang drying should take an hour then put in the dryer.

Can You Dye Canvas Shoes?


Yes, you can dye canvas shoes and it is a great way to dress up boring white shoes. One of the methods you can use is the tie-dye with sharpie method and it goes fast and easy. You should be able to apply one or be creative and add several colors to your shoes.

Then you can use the acrylic paint method which is a little more involved and will take a little more time. The key to this method is to separate the acrylic components and oils from the color so you do not get a very hard and brittle finish.

That is what the rubbing alcohol does for your tie-dye work with acrylic paint. If the dye is a liquid, just use the brush that comes with the dye to spread the dye around. Just make sure your strokes are smooth and applying an even amount of dye all over the shoes.

What is The Best Dye For Canvas Shoes?

A reactive dye is the best but there are plenty of dye options available for you to use. Rit dye and some of the other major brands will work well as those companies make their dyes to meet your dyeing needs.

Be careful though of your shoes have synthetic thread holding them together, then do not expect to have a perfect result. Synthetic threads do not respond well to dyes made for natural fibers.

You may end up with two-toned shoes that do not look that fashion-forward. There are some good liquid dyes that all you need to do is brush the liquid onto your shoes and let the shoes dry and your work should be done.

When you go to the stores, you will see a large selection to choose from, take time to read the labels as some dyes are more involved than other options. Your schedule should influence your dye choice.

How To Dye Canvas Shoes

The simplest methods have already been addressed. You can tie die with sharpies, tie-die with acrylic paint, or use a brush on the liquid dye that makes dyeing your shoes a quick task.

There is the bucket method where you can dip your canvas shoes into the dye and using Rit dye or other brand names will provide you with the best results. As of this writing, Rit dye has about 26 colors for you to use.

New shoes do not need washing but old shoes will and once that is done, pour 3 1/2 gallons of hot water in a bucket and add 2 packs of dye. Stir with an old wooden spoon that you can get rid of after you are done.

Next, lower each show one at a time and go slow to avoid splashing anything. Let the shoes remain in the dye for 30 minutes, checking every ten. When done, rinse till the water runs clear and let dry for 24 hours.

That is it. Dyeing your canvas shoes is easy if you follow instructions.

Dye Canvas Shoes With Food Coloring


This is really not a good option to try as the food coloring does not adhere to well to the fabric. When you get the shoes wet, the food coloring will wash out and stain different items that are close by. But if you want to try mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a bucket or sink.

Then soak your shoes for up to one hour before adding in the food coloring. Sometimes 30 minutes will do the trick. Then heat the mixture till it is boiling, remove from the heat and add the shoes.

Then rinse under cool water till it runs clear. You can repeat the process then allow it to dry completely before washing. There is no guarantee that this process will work but nothing ventured nothing gained. Give it a shot and if it doesn’t work use one of the other methods already talked about here

Dye Canvas Shoes in a Washing Machine

This method may be better with non-shoe canvas items than with shoes but here are the steps you need to take. First, wash the shoes to get the dirt and other impurities off of it. Let the shoes air dry but leave damp.

Next, fill your washer and add the dye and the shoes. The dye can go in the detergent spot and start the cycle once that has been done. Now pour in the hot water and this is a 1 to 1 water to dye ratio.

Then mix 1 cup salt with 4 cups of hot water and mix. Add to the dye mixture in your washer. Run the cycle through and then do a regular wash cycle to rinse the dye out. Once done, air dry completely this time.

While you are waiting for your shoes to dry, rinse your washer out with bleach. Use 1 to 2 cups of bleach and the highest water possible.

Dye Canvas Shoes Without Dying Rubber

This is not as difficult of a task as it sounds. The one method that may be the hardest is to make your dye mixture in a large sink or pan and then add your shoes. Instead of placing them soles down, turn them upside down and keep the rubber from touching the mixture.

Follow the instructions on the dye packaging, let the shoes air dry when done. There is an easier method and it involves liquid dyes that you simply brush on. The trick here is to do confident, careful strokes and do not touch the rubber soles with the applicator.

If you want to use one of the tie-dye methods you can always cover the soles with tape and let the tape protect the rubber while you spread the colors around.

How To Tie-Dye Canvas Painting


This is not that hard to do if you are good at tie-dyeing. You can use the acrylic paint method here as long as you separate the acrylic components and oils from the color. It is easy to brush on the different colors just make sure you have a design pre-drawn on the canvas or use your creativity to make something that looks unique.

Use a very light to white background color as it will show through the paint placed on top of the background. After your design is drawn begin painting using different colors where you want them.

Paint the dark colors first then go to the lightest to have the best effect. When you draw your lines use a pencil but be careful. The lead tends to show through the pink and yellow colors.

Some Final Words

Dyeing canvas should be as easy as dyeing cotton, after all, they are made from the same fibers. Just take your time and know what color and design you want in order to come away with great results.

Just make sure that the canvas item is not treated with a waterproof coating or wax. If it is, then you won’t have much success.

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