man outdoors in flannel and vest placing rifle in a rifle bag

Long popular thanks to its high quality, extreme durability and minimal care requirements, waxed canvas was among the original waterproof fabrics. In fact, as far back as the 1500s, sailors would use grease and fish oils to give their sails an extra level of weather protection (as well as to help them better catch the wind). In the 1800s, paraffin waxes, which used petroleum products to create a more effective sealant, were developed. And by the 1920s, with the manufacturing process greatly improved, waxed canvas was used to produce waterproof luggage, tents, items of clothing and a range of other gear that needed to withstand challenging environmental elements.

Since then, the wax used to treat fabrics and create waxed canvas products has been further improved via blending with other, even more effective sealing substances. But one thing has remained constant — waxed canvas is still used to create high-quality, durable products that, with the right care, can last a long time.

A unique breed of fabric

Because waxed canvas is so distinctively different from other, more typical items of clothing and gear, though, many consumers — especially ones who have never owned waxed canvas items before — can be left with lots of questions about its care and maintenance. But your friends at Heybo are here to answer all of them.

Read on for our tips on caring for your waxed canvas clothing and gear, along with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding waxed canvas.

How to clean a waxed canvas bag or jacket

Many consumers ask the question, “Can you clean waxed canvas?” The answer is that you can — but the procedure is markedly different than it is with most items of clothing. Follow these steps to keep your waxed canvas looking untarnished and stain-free:

  • First of all, waxed canvas doesn’t have to be cleaned nearly as often as most fabrics. And it should never be machine washed or dry cleaned — both of these processes can strip the protective wax off the fabric.
    Further, do not iron or bleach your waxed canvas, and never use artificial heat or open flames to dry it.
  • When you do feel you need to clean your waxed canvas bag, jacket or other item, be careful not to overdo it. Start by using a brush or damp rag to gently brush or buff off any dried-on mud or dirt.
  • If traces of the stain remain, use plain cold water — skipping the soap to begin with — to wet any stained areas, then gently brush the area with a scrub brush or buff it with a damp rag and let it dry.
  • If stubborn stains persist, use a scrub brush or damp rag along with a small amount of lukewarm water and mild bar soap, flake soap or saddle soap to spot-clean the problem areas, after first testing the soap on a small hidden area.
  • Next, re-wax the cleaned area (more on that below) and hang it to dry in a warm place.

How to re-wax a canvas bag or jacket

Other users want to know how to waterproof waxed canvas. The material is highly water resistant when it is new, and as needed, occasional re-waxing can help maintain this quality. Follow these steps to re-wax your waxed canvas bags and jackets:

  • Clean your bag or jacket by wiping down the exterior using cold water and a sponge.
  • With the lid still on, partially submerge a tin of fabric wax in hot water for approximately 20 minutes to soften the wax until it reaches a liquid consistency. Leave the container of wax in the hot water (and refresh the hot water as needed) to keep the wax melted.
  • Using a clean cloth or sponge, apply the wax to the bag or garment in circular motions, taking special care to ensure that the wax works its way into all seams, creases and dry patches. Be careful not to over-wax — a small amount is all that should be needed.
  • Wipe off any excess wax.
  • Put a hair dryer on its hottest setting and use it to blow hot air over all of the freshly waxed areas. While doing so, spread the wax around evenly using the same cloth or sponge you used to apply the wax. (But be careful not to hold the hair dryer too close to the item’s surface, which could cause the wax to run.)
  • Hang the freshly re-waxed item up in a warm, dry place away from other garments, and let it dry overnight.
  • When using the freshly re-waxed item after it dries, be aware that it may lose excess wax for a short while — so take care when placing it around clothing, leather or upholstery during this period.

Canvas care FAQs

Here are the answers to a handful of commonly asked questions regarding waxed canvas care and maintenance:

Q: Can you wash a waxed canvas bag or jacket in the washing machine?

A: No — this will strip the protective wax off the item’s fabric, as will dry cleaning. When cleaning is needed, follow the cleaning procedure outlined above.

Q: How durable is waxed canvas?

A: Because the wax coating protects the fabric underneath, waxed canvas bags and jackets tend to be much more durable than their standard, non-waxed counterparts. Occasional re-waxing (applied as needed to spots where the wax is wearing thin, or to the entire item exterior once a year or so) can help extend the longevity of waxed items even more.

Q: Does waxed canvas rub off?

A: Yes, it is normal for the wax to wear thin or completely off with time and heavy usage, as well as with normal wear and tear. When this happens, follow the re-waxing steps outlined above, for either spot treatment or full re-waxing.

Heybo’s top-quality waxed canvas gear

Known for creating high-quality gear made specifically with outdoor enthusiasts in mind, Heybo Outdoors offers a range of waxed canvas products built to withstand whatever Mother Nature may bring. 

The Heybo catalog includes an array of waxed canvas offerings such as our:

To explore all of the waxed canvas offerings in the Heybo lineup, visit