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.

Top-Loading Machine

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Front-Loading Machines

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.

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.

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.

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

About the Author

Mimi Abney is a lifestyle writer specializing in online content for women. Her work has appeared in and "Keepsake Magazine," among other publications. With over 15 years of writing and editing experience for the web and print, Abney is also a contributor to online health, beauty and fashion publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Spelman College.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images