Will Canvas Shrink in a Dryer?

Kaye Wagner

Canvas is a durable material made from woven cotton fibers. Because it is so durable, manufacturers use it to upholster outdoor furniture, cover outdoor pillows and comprise canopies and umbrella shades. Canvas requires special care to keep it clean, pristine and in the right shape.

Outdoor umbrellas are often made of canvas.

Don’t put canvas in the dryer as it will shrink.


Cleaning the canvas thoroughly will usually leave it wet. Never dry the canvas in a dryer, as it will shrink the canvas. This is especially true if the dryer is on high heat, but it can also shrink on low heat. Canvas also often has plastic or rubber components on it. If you put it in a dryer, the dryer might melt the plastic.

Drying Outside

Instead of using a dryer, hang the canvas outside on a line until it dries. Hang it in the sun to speed up the process. This could take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. Because you are relying on the weather to dry the canvas, check the weather forecast to make sure it will be bright and sunny for several days. Bring the canvas inside if it begins to rain.

Cleaning Process

Cleaning the canvas is essential to keeping your home looking clean and pristine. To do this, add liquid dish soap to a bucket of warm water and mix until the water is soapy and sudsy. Dip a scrubbing brush into the solution and gently scrub it over the canvas until it is completely clean. Rinse the canvas completely with clear water.

Canvas Protection

Protect the canvas from becoming ruined by mold and mildew by covering it with a layer of protective finish. Protective finish is a polymer-based clear paint that will repel water and stains and can be purchased at a home improvement, hardware or boat supply store. Most outdoor canvas is treated before you purchase it. If not, prepare the canvas according to the manufacturers directions and spray or brush the protective finish onto the canvas. Use care when cleaning the canvas to make sure you don’t brush off the protective coating.