Soften a canvas jacket with a natural home remedy.

How to Get the Stiffness Out of a Canvas Jacket

by Mimi Abney

Constructed from cotton, linen or synthetic materials, canvas is a stiff, heavy and tightly woven fabric. When your new canvas topper feels rigid and firm to the touch, soften it at home using a common and natural household product. After one or two washings, you will have a softer jacket that is totally wearable and comfortable.

1. Top-Loading Machine

1 Place the washing machine on a cold-water setting, for a small load of clothes. As the water fills up the internal canister, add one cup of vinegar to the machine.

2. Top-Loading Machine

2 Close hooks, zippers and snaps on the jacket to prevent snagging and breaking. Place the canvas jacket in the washing machine away from the agitator.

3. Top-Loading Machine

3 Let the washer agitate for a few minutes. Stop the machine and let the jacket soak in the vinegar and water solution for two to three hours.

4. Top-Loading Machine

4 Resume the washing cycle and let the agitation continue. After the cold rinse cycle, remove the jacket from the machine. If you smell any vinegar residue on the jacket, repeat another cold-water rinse cycle before drying.

5. Top-Loading Machine

5 Tumble the jacket immediately in a cool dryer to help remove wrinkles. Instead of hanging your jacket to dry, a quick tumble in the dryer will also aid in softening the jacket’s coarse fibers.

6. Front-Loading Machines

1 Place the canvas jacket and three or four similarly colored cotton items in the washer. One item in a front-loading washer may result in an unbalanced load.

7. Front-Loading Machines

2 Pour one-quarter cup of white vinegar in the detergent dispenser of your top loading machine. Top the vinegar off with water to fill the manufacturer's recommended fill line. Place the machine on a cold-water washing cycle.

8. Front-Loading Machines

3 Let the front-loading machine complete a full washing cycle. Once the machine stops, remove the jacket and check for any vinegar residue on the jacket. If the residue remains, wash the clothes again on a cold-water cycle with water and detergent to remove the vinegar smell.

9. Front-Loading Machines

4 Place the jacket and the clothes in a cool dryer to help remove wrinkles.

Items you will need

  • Vinegar
  • Laundry detergent


  • Use cold water to save energy and reduce any possibility of setting wrinkles in your canvas jacket.
  • After using the vinegar to soften the jacket, run the your top-loading or front-loading machine one full cycle with water and detergent only, to remove any vinegar residue from the machine.


  • Do not soak noncolorfast canvas jackets in vinegar. If the jacket is not white or off-white, place the vinegar in the rinse cycle only, to prevent any lifting of the color from the jacket. Or test the inside collar of your colored canvas jacket with a cotton ball dipped in vinegar to see whether this home remedy causes the color to bleed or fade.


  • Extraordinary Uses For Ordinary Things; The Editors of Reader's Digest
  • Green Guide: The Complete Reference for Consuming Wisely; National Geographic
  • Good Housekeeping: The Complete Household Handbook; Editors From Good Housekeeping
  • Manage My Life: Front Load Washer Operation

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