How to Clean the Canvas on Antique Trunks

Susan Walworth

Antique trunks are as popular today as they were when they were manufactured. No longer the luggage of choice for long trips, trunks still offer function inside the home. Although they're often little more than simple wooden boxes, trunks can add character to any room and most importantly, valuable storage.

Restored antique trunks can provide attractive home storage.

One of the most common types of trunks manufactured between 1880 and 1920 had a flat top. Most of these trunks were covered with canvas. While trunks with intact canvas can be hard to find, it's important to preserve the original covering when possible.


Glue loose or torn canvas with a white glue, such as Elmer's. Preserve the canvas by applying a coat of clear, water-based polyurethane.


Don't wet the canvas on antique trunks, or use harsh cleansers, which could cause the canvas to come loose.

  1. Brush the canvas covering with a clean, short-bristled paint brush.

  2. Attach the brush attachment to a vacuum and carefully vacuum the surface. Pay careful attention to crevices.

  3. Wet a sponge and squeeze out excess water.

  4. Dab dirty spots lightly with the damp sponge.