Does Canvas Fabric Shrink? Shrinkage Facts Explored

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Time to read: 11 min.
Michael Smith
I'm Michael Smith, the founder and creative director of Art and Drawing. With over a decade of experience in the art and design industry, my keen eye for detail and passion for creating inspiring artwork drive my work. I'm dedicated to capturing the world's beauty through vibrant, expressive pieces that spark imagination and emotion.

Canvas fabric is a popular material known for its durability and versatility. Many people wonder if canvas fabric is prone to shrinkage, especially when it comes to washing and care. In this article, we will explore the facts about canvas fabric shrinkage and provide essential care tips to help you maintain the quality of your canvas fabric items.

Key Takeaways:

  • Canvas fabric can shrink, particularly cotton canvas, which can shrink around 10-15%.
  • Poly-cotton blends and pure polyester canvas shrink less or not at all.
  • To prevent shrinkage, pre-treat canvas fabric before washing, use cold water and gentle cycles, and avoid machine drying when possible.
  • If your canvas fabric has already shrunk, re-stretching can restore tightness.
  • Proper care and storage are essential to maintaining the quality of canvas fabric items.

Now, let’s dive into the details and learn more about canvas fabric shrinkage and how to take care of your canvas items.

Understanding Canvas Fabric

Canvas fabric is a heavyweight, plain-woven material that is widely used for its durability and versatility in various products, including bags, tents, and jackets. It is typically made of cotton or cotton blends, which contribute to its sturdiness and strength. The choice of fabric composition, such as cotton canvas or cotton blend canvas, can affect the characteristics and performance of the fabric.

One essential aspect of canvas fabric is its texture. It can vary from smooth to more textured surfaces, giving it a distinct visual appeal. The texture of the fabric adds depth and dimension to the overall look of the finished products. When considering the cleaning and care of canvas fabric, understanding the fabric texture is crucial since different textures may require specific cleaning methods.

In summary, canvas fabric is a heavyweight material known for its durability and versatility. It can be made of cotton or cotton blends and comes in various textures, offering a range of aesthetic options for different applications. Understanding the type of canvas fabric you have is important when selecting appropriate cleaning and care techniques.

Stay tuned for the next section, where we will delve deeper into the factors affecting canvas fabric shrinkage.

Does Canvas Fabric Shrink? Factors Affecting Shrinkage

When it comes to canvas fabric shrinkage, several factors come into play. Let’s explore them:

Cotton Canvas

Cotton canvas is known for its natural fibers, which have a higher tendency to shrink. On average, cotton canvas fabric can shrink around 10-15% when washed. This is because cotton fibers absorb water easily, causing them to contract during the washing process.

Poly-Cotton Blend

A poly-cotton blend combines the properties of cotton and polyester fibers. The addition of polyester provides stability to the fabric, reducing shrinkage. Poly-cotton canvas typically shrinks less, around 8%, compared to pure cotton canvas.

Pure Polyester

Unlike cotton and poly-cotton blends, pure polyester canvas fabric does not shrink when washed. Polyester fibers do not absorb much water, resulting in minimal shrinkage during the washing process.

Washing Method and Canvas Construction

The amount of shrinkage also depends on the washing method used and the construction of the canvas fabric. Different washing methods, such as machine washing, hand washing, or dry cleaning, can affect the degree of shrinkage. Additionally, the construction of the canvas, including the tightness of the weave and the thickness of the fabric, can influence shrinkage.

See also
Canvas Stretching Guide: Easy DIY Tips & Tricks
Fabric Type Shrinkage
Cotton Canvas Around 10-15%
Poly-Cotton Blend Around 8%
Pure Polyester Negligible shrinkage

Understanding these factors can help you make informed decisions when it comes to caring for your canvas fabric items and preventing excessive shrinkage.

Now that we’ve explored the factors affecting canvas fabric shrinkage, let’s move on to Section 4 and discover how to prevent shrinkage and care for your canvas items.

Preventing Canvas Fabric Shrinkage

If you want to prevent canvas fabric shrinkage, there are several steps you can take. By following these tips, you can ensure that your canvas items remain in their original shape and size for a longer period of time.

Pre-Treating Canvas Fabric

One effective method to prevent shrinkage is to pre-treat the canvas fabric before washing it. Start by washing the fabric in hot water and tumble drying it. This “pre-shrinks” the fabric, reducing the chances of further shrinkage during subsequent washes.

Waterproofing Spray

Another way to minimize water absorption and prevent shrinkage is to apply a pre-treatment waterproofing spray to the canvas fabric. This spray effectively seals the fibers and provides an added layer of protection against moisture.

Washing Care Tips

  • When washing canvas, use cold water instead of hot water. Cold water helps maintain the fabric’s integrity and reduces the risk of shrinkage.
  • Opt for line drying instead of using a machine dryer. Line drying allows the fabric to naturally air dry, minimizing any potential shrinkage.
  • If hand washing is possible, it is often the safest method for preventing excessive shrinkage.

Mounting Canvas

If you’re concerned about future shrinkage, consider mounting your canvas onto a rigid panel. This mounting technique helps restrict the movement of the fabric and reduces the likelihood of significant shrinkage over time.

Preventing Canvas Fabric Shrinkage Benefits
Pre-treating canvas fabric – Reduces subsequent shrinkage
– Preserves original size and shape
Applying waterproofing spray – Minimizes water absorption
– Prevents moisture-related shrinkage
Using cold water for washing – Maintains fabric integrity
– Decreases shrinkage risk
Opting for line drying – Allows natural air drying
– Minimizes potential shrinkage
Mounting canvas onto a rigid panel – Restricts fabric movement
– Prevents future significant shrinkage

By taking these preventive measures, you can enjoy your canvas items while ensuring that they stay true to their original size and shape. The combination of pre-treating, careful washing, and mounting techniques can greatly reduce the risk of canvas fabric shrinkage and help your items last longer.

Re-Stretching Canvas Fabric

If your canvas fabric has already shrunk, don’t worry. It can be re-stretched to provide tightness once again. To re-stretch canvas:

  1. Start by removing old staples from the wooden stretchers.
  2. Then, stretch the canvas tightly across the wooden frame and staple the edges down securely.
  3. Adding cross-braces across the rear stretchers can help prevent future sagging.

Re-stretching can restore the tightness of the canvas fabric, even if it has already experienced shrinkage.

Sorting and Washing Canvas Fabric

Proper sorting and washing techniques are essential for maintaining the quality of your canvas fabric items. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your canvas items stay clean and in excellent condition.

Sorting Canvas Items:

  • Separate your canvas items by color and fabric type. This will help prevent color bleeding and damage to delicate fabrics.
  • Avoid washing canvas items with items that have zippers, hooks, or any sharp components that may cause abrasion or tearing.

Choosing the Right Detergent:

When it comes to choosing a detergent for your canvas items, consider the thickness and condition of the fabric. For delicate canvas, opt for a mild detergent specially formulated for delicate fabrics. For heavier canvas, such as outdoor gear or upholstery, a heavy-duty detergent may be more suitable.

Machine Washing Tips:

  • Use a gentle cycle when machine washing canvas items. This will help protect the fabric and minimize wear and tear.
  • Wash canvas items in cold water to prevent shrinkage and color fading.
  • Avoid overloading the machine. Overcrowding may cause the fabric to rub against itself, leading to friction and potential damage.
  • Consider turning canvas items inside out before washing. This can help protect the outer surface from excessive wear and fading.
See also
Canvas Care: Does It Shrink in the Dryer? Find Out!

Remember, proper sorting and washing techniques are essential for preserving the quality and longevity of your canvas fabric items.

Sorting Canvas Items Choosing the Right Detergent Machine Washing Tips
Separate by color and fabric type Consider thickness and condition of fabric Use gentle cycle
Avoid washing with items that may cause damage Opt for mild detergent for delicate canvas Wash in cold water
Choose heavy-duty detergent for heavy canvas Avoid overloading the machine
Turn items inside out for protection

Removing Stains from Canvas Fabric

Stains can be a common concern for canvas fabric items. Whether it’s a spilled drink on your canvas bag or a stubborn mark on your canvas shoes, removing stains effectively is essential to maintain the beauty and longevity of your fabric.

Spot-treating stains before washing is a key step in the stain removal process. To do this:

  1. Identify the stains: Determine what type of stain you’re dealing with, whether it’s grease, ink, or food.
  2. Choose the right stain remover: Select a stain remover that is suitable for your specific fabric type. It’s important to read and follow the instructions on the product label.
  3. Gently rub the stain remover into the stain: Apply a small amount of the stain remover directly onto the stained area. Use a clean cloth or a soft-bristled brush to gently rub the stain remover into the fabric. Be careful not to scrub too hard, as it may damage the fibers.
  4. Let it sit: Allow the stain remover to sit on the stain for a few minutes. This will give it time to penetrate and break down the stain.

After spot-treating the stains, you can proceed with washing your canvas fabric item as usual. The pre-treatment will increase the likelihood of successful stain removal during the wash cycle.

Here’s an example of a stain remover suitable for canvas fabric:

Stain Remover Suitable for
Canvas fabric, cotton, polyester blends

Remember, always follow the instructions provided by the stain remover manufacturer for best results. By spot-treating stains and using the right stain remover, you can effectively remove stains from your canvas fabric items and keep them looking fresh and clean.

Drying and Ironing Canvas Fabric

Proper drying techniques are crucial for maintaining the quality of your canvas fabric items. Whether you’re dealing with canvas bags, jackets, or other canvas products, it’s important to follow the right steps to ensure optimal care.

When it comes to drying canvas fabric, air drying is your best option. This method helps prevent shrinkage and color fading, preserving the integrity of the fabric. Simply hang your canvas items in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight and let them air dry naturally.

If you do need to use a dryer, make sure to select the lowest heat setting available. High heat can cause excessive shrinkage and damage to the fabric. It’s also recommended to remove the canvas items from the dryer while they are still slightly damp. This helps prevent excessive wrinkling and allows for easier ironing if needed.

When it comes to ironing canvas fabric, it’s important to use a low-heat setting. High heat can scorch the fabric or create shiny spots, compromising its appearance. It’s also recommended to iron the fabric on the reverse side or inside out to avoid any potential damage.

When ironing, keep the iron moving smoothly across the fabric to prevent concentrated heat on a single spot. This will help distribute the heat evenly and prevent any potential issues. With proper ironing techniques, you can remove any wrinkles and creases from your canvas fabric, leaving it looking fresh and well-maintained.

Storing Canvas Items

Proper storage is essential for preserving the quality of your canvas items. Follow these tips to ensure your canvas fabric remains in excellent condition for future use:

  1. Fold Neatly: Before storing your canvas items, make sure to fold them neatly. This prevents creasing and maintains the shape of the fabric.
  2. Cool, Dry Place: Store your folded canvas items in a cool, dry place. Avoid areas with high humidity, as moisture can promote mold and mildew growth.
  3. Avoid Direct Sunlight: Direct sunlight can cause fading and discoloration of your canvas fabric. Choose a storage location away from windows or use light-blocking covers.
  4. Avoid Hanging: For heavy canvas items like jackets or large artwork, avoid hanging them for extended periods. Hanging can cause stretching and loss of shape. Instead, fold them and place them in a breathable storage container or drawer.
See also
Easy Canvas-on-Canvas Bonding Guide

Proper storage practices help protect your canvas items and extend their lifespan. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your canvas fabric remains in top-notch condition, ready for your next use.


Understanding how to care for your canvas fabric items is crucial in maintaining their quality and longevity. By following proper care instructions and implementing the right washing tips, you can minimize shrinkage and keep your canvas fabric in top condition.

Start by pre-treating your canvas fabric through a hot water wash and tumble dry to reduce subsequent shrinkage. Additionally, consider applying a pre-treatment waterproofing spray to seal the fibers and minimize water absorption.

When washing your canvas fabric, always use cold water and opt for gentle cycles. Hand washing is preferable when possible. Avoid overloading the machine and turn your items inside out to protect their outer surfaces. Line drying is the best method, but if you use a dryer, ensure it’s on the lowest heat setting and remove the items while slightly damp to prevent excessive wrinkling.

Lastly, don’t forget to store your canvas items properly. Fold them neatly and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent fading. Avoid hanging heavy canvas items for extended periods to prevent stretching and loss of shape.


Does canvas fabric shrink?

Yes, canvas fabric can shrink, especially when washing and drying. The amount of shrinkage depends on factors such as the type of canvas fabric, washing method, and construction of the canvas.

What is canvas fabric made of?

Canvas fabric is typically made of cotton or cotton blends. It can also be made of pure polyester.

How does cotton canvas differ from poly-cotton blend canvas?

Cotton canvas is more prone to shrinkage compared to poly-cotton blend canvas. Poly-cotton blends contain polyester fibers that provide stability and reduce shrinkage.

Does pure polyester canvas shrink?

No, pure polyester canvas does not shrink as polyester fibers do not absorb much water.

How can I prevent canvas fabric shrinkage?

To prevent shrinkage, you can pre-treat the fabric by washing it in hot water and tumble drying. Applying a pre-treatment waterproofing spray and using cold water, line drying, and hand washing also help prevent excessive shrinkage. Mounting canvas onto a rigid panel can restrict future shrinkage.

Can I re-stretch canvas fabric if it has already shrunk?

Yes, you can re-stretch canvas fabric by removing old staples from the wooden stretchers, stretching the fabric tightly across the frame, and securing the edges. Adding cross-braces can help prevent future sagging.

How should I sort and wash canvas fabric?

Sort canvas items by color and fabric type, and avoid washing them with items that may cause damage. Choose a detergent suitable for delicate or heavy fabrics, and use a gentle cycle, cold water, and avoid overloading the machine when washing canvas fabric.

How do I remove stains from canvas fabric?

Spot-treat stains before washing by identifying the stains and using a suitable stain remover. Gently rub the stain remover into the stain, let it sit, and then wash the fabric to increase the chances of successful stain removal.

How should I dry and iron canvas fabric?

Air drying is best for canvas fabric to prevent shrinkage and color fading. If using a dryer, choose the lowest heat setting and remove items while slightly damp. When ironing, use a low-heat setting and iron the fabric inside out to avoid damage.

How should I store canvas items?

Fold canvas items neatly and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent fading. Avoid hanging heavy canvas items for extended periods, as it can cause stretching. Instead, fold them and place them in a breathable storage container or drawer.

What are some canvas fabric care instructions?

To maintain the quality of your canvas items, pre-treat, wash carefully, and re-stretch as needed. Proper sorting, using the right detergent, and practicing proper washing and drying methods are important. Storing canvas items properly also helps preserve their longevity.