Good Ole Fashion Canvas

Some parts of the "Canvas" on your boat may be a blend of synthetic and cotton. Care for pure synthetic, often called, "SUNBRELLA" is covered in another section. Here we are concerned with cotton and cotton blend covers and tarps. Don't let the color fool you, although they may look like SUNBRELLA, in many cases, storage covers for seats and convertible tops are made from blended materials. The blends have a tendency to breath better, allowing moisture to escape. Ask your dealer if this is the case. Most small boat storage covers are also all or part cotton.

WARNING: Do not clean canvas with any form of:

•  Dish Soap
•  Regular Laundry Detergent
•  Solvents and/or dry cleaning solution

The use of any sort of soap, detergent, or solvent will remove:

• Color
• Rot proofing
• Water proofing

Canvas should be cleaned with a brush (dust pan brush or broom) as part of it's regular maintenance. Heavier dust can be removed by vacuuming the fabric with a shop vac with a bristle attachment. Bird droppings can usually be removed with a brush and COLD water.

If you have a pressure washer in the 1000 to 1500 psi range, you can lightly blast the surface  with COLD water, being sure to keep a distance of at least 12 inches from the material.

I need to clean off some stains. What can I clean it with?
  If you clean the cover with a soap, use Ivory flake soap! Do not use  regular cloths detergent. Detergent will neutralize the waterproofing. Be sure to use COLD water and keep the cover wet during the entire process. Letting the soap dry on the canvas before you try to rinse it off, is not a good thing.

Any time the cover is wet, it is best to dry the cover on the boat, fully tied down and fitted. This helps prevent unwanted shrinkage. Try not to let the cover dry in direct sunlight, on or off the boat. If you have to remove a wet cover, roll the cover up and put it in cool place, out of the sun, until you can put it back on and tie it down.

Do not roll wet canvas and forget about it. Dirt in canvas breeds fungus growth which will quickly spread, permeating the cotton content of canvas. Dark, moist, warm conditions are ideal for growing mushrooms, not storing canvas! Mould and fungus in canvas, when dry, does not die, it goes dormant. Moisture will regenerate its growth.

The easiest way to kill mild mould and fungus is to saturate the cloth with a solution of 1 part strong chlorine bleach with 6 parts water. Test a small area for color fastness and let dry. If there is a color change, reduce the level of bleach by 50%.  Then wash the cover by saturating the cloth a number of times and rinse totally clean with cold clean water.

Note: Cleaning with a bleach will require re-water proofing afterwards.

You know that wood sealer stuff, says on the can that it, will seal canvas. Can I use this on my boat cover?
   Not such a hot idea. Using wood preservatives will leave a gummy residue which attracts dirt. This may be OK for a tarp that covers a log pile, but not a boat.

It looks like I'm going to have to re-waterproof my canvas. What next?
   First you must clean the cover and remove stains as suggested above. Let the cover dry completely. If you have to leave it sit over night outside, throw some old blankets or sheets over it till morning.  If the cover is not cleaned first, the sealer will trap dirt into the fabric causing molds and mildews to form quicker and the larger dirt particles can start to act like sandpaper to the cotton fibers.

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