How To Waterproof A Canvas Bag?

By now you’re probably well aware of the many benefits of canvas bags. One of those benefits is their multipurpose nature. Many would like to carry their beloved canvas bags all year round. Canvas is a durable material that can protect your valuables most of the time. But it’s not completely water-resistant.

When canvas bags come into contact with water, it may damage the bag and anything inside it. It can also cause unhealthy mildew build-up. To keep your bags fresh and clean, waterproofing is the ideal solution. Fortunately, waterproofing your canvas bags at home is super easy. Don’t know where to start? Follow our ultimate DIY guide to waterproof your canvas bags in no time!

Exploring Different Ways Of Waterproofing Your Canvas Bag

Whether you’re at the beach or on a rainy day, waterproofing can come in handy. Thankfully, there’s more than one way to make your canvas bag water-resistant. Read on to explore some tried and tested waterproofing methods.

Using A Waterproofing Spray

If you’re looking for a quick but effective fix, waterproofing sprays are the way to go. You can find them in your neighborhood supermarket or home depot. Such products contain powerful chemicals that are good for some heavy-duty waterproofing. Do your canvas bags get a lot of outdoor exposure? These sprays will keep your bags as good as new.

Materials You Need

  • Any waterproofing spray or sealant
  • Tape
  • Seam sealer (optional)

Step-By-Step Process

Step 1: Deep Clean The Bag

Start with cleaning your canvas bags from top to bottom. This can involve washing the canvas bag and performing spot treatments. Make sure that the bag is free of all debris and crumbs.

Step 2: Apply The Sealant

Once washed and cleaned properly, you can go for a sealant. The sealant needs to be used on the seams. This is an optional step to provide more water protection.

Step 3: Spray Bag With Waterproofing Product

It’s finally time to make your bag waterproof! Just take the waterproofing spray and begin applying it all over the bag. Ensure that you cover all the areas, especially the bottom of the bag. Also, spray it on the seams which are prone to water leaking. You can also seal the zippers for extra protection. Most bags will require two coatings to be completely waterproof.

Using Wax

If you’re not into chemicals, you can go all-natural with wax instead. Wax is easily available and quite budget-friendly. This method isn’t as straightforward as spraying, it’s chemical-free and effective.

Materials You Need

  • Two different pots
  • A pot of water
  • A brush
  • Hairdryer
  • Wax (paraffin, beeswax, or 100% organic wax)

Step-By-Step Process

Step 1: Test The Wax

Before you do anything, you need to test the wax. A wax treatment may change the color and texture of the bag. It’s a good idea to check whether you like the results before committing to it. Just apply the wax to a small area of the bag. You can either rub the wax chunk against the canvas or apply melted wax to it.

Step 2: Prepare The Wax

Fill one pot with water and set it on the stove to boil slowly. At the same time, take some wax in another pot and set it on the first pot. This is the double boiler method to gently melt the wax. Stir the wax gently at regular intervals. After it’s boiled, let the hot wax cool down for a few minutes. Using boiling hot wax can damage your canvas bag.

Step 3: Application Of The Wax

Take your brush and spread the melted wax on the canvas fabric. Make sure to cover every nook and cranny. Don’t forget to cover the seams, buttons, and zippers on the bag. You can also use your hands to rub the wax into the canvas.

Step 4: Working In the Wax

Take your hairdryer to heat up the wax so it can melt into the fabric. You can also do another wax coating for proper protection. Repeat all the steps above and use the hairdryer to seal it all in. Double-check the problem areas such as the bottom of the bag. Also, make sure you’ve caught the little crevices under buttons and inserts.

Step 5: Waterproofing The Inside

Once the outside is fully covered, turn the bag inside out. Now just repeat steps one to four for the inside as well. This step is especially important if you use the bag for groceries that may spill. The double wax treatment may make the bag stiffer.

Step 6: Drying The Bag

Once all the wax application is done, you have to let it dry. This can be done by hanging the bag out to dry. You can hang it on your regular clothesline and use it after 24 hours. If you want a quicker drying process, you can put it in the dryer.

from David’s Passage

Using Alum Powder And Detergent

The third method involves laundry detergent with alum powder. Both materials are easy to find and fund. While this method is more laborious, it only uses convenient household items.

Materials You Need

  • One pound detergent
  • Half pound alum powder
  • Around four gallons of water
  • Two buckets

Step-By-Step Process

Step 1: Prepare The Mix

Mix the laundry detergent in hot water in one bucket. Fully submerge the canvas bag in the bucket of detergent mix.

Step 2: Soak In Detergent Mixture

As the canvas bag soaks in the water, make sure to stir it gently. If the bag floats to the top, push it down while stirring. You can also weigh the bag down with something heavy like a glass jar. Wait for half an hour or more before you take out the bag.

Step 3: Dry The Canvas Bag

Once the bag has soaked up the mixture nicely, you can take it out to dry. Simply clip the bag onto a wire. Make sure that the bag is spread out completely. The bag needs to get proper airflow on each side. It may take up to 48 hours for your bag to dry completely.

Step 4: Make The Alum Mixture

Take the second bucket and make a mixture of half a pound of alum powder with two gallons of water. Stir the mixture until all alum powder is fully dissolved.

Step 5: Soak In Alum Mixture

Once the bag is completely dry, it’s time for the second soak. This time you have to submerge the bag into the alum powder mixture. As mentioned before, make sure the bag stays down and soaks up the mixture. Let the bag soak for at least two hours.

Step 6: Final Dry

After two hours in the mix, your bag is ready for the final drying! Just take it out of the mixture and hang it out to dry. Once dry, your bag will be ready to use.

Other Tips And Tricks For Waterproofing A Canvas Bag

  • If you went with the wax method, you might need to re-wax the bag once a year. Since wax is organic, it can easily break down over time.
  • When it comes to washing a wax waterproofed bag, it can be tricky. It’s recommended that you wash the bag rarely. When you do wash it, avoid hot water as it may cause the wax to melt. You can either use cold water or simply use brushes to clean it.
  • If you chose the alum powder method, your bags may still need a refresher. You can repeat the process once a year to ensure water resistance.
  • If you’re an outdoorsy person then you may want to sun-proof your bags as well. This can be done through UV-protectant sun proofing sprays. Sun proofing reduces the chances of sun damage and color fading.
  • Apart from wax, alum powder, and sprays, you can also use soybean oil and turpentine. This method is most likely to darken and discolor the bag. Especially bags which are white will not fare well with this method. Despite that, it’s still a possibility if other methods aren’t feasible for you.


Want to go to a pool party or take a stroll on a rainy day? Waterproofing helps your bags stay new come rain or shine. While canvas is quite sturdy on its own, a little waterproofing can go a long way. Our tried and tested methods can help you waterproof your useful cotton canvas bags at home. So what are you waiting for? Have fun making your bags invincible!

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