View Full Version : How to Clean a Canvas Mat

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Kristen Hall-Geisler
04-23-2007, 06:41 PM
The mat at our dojo has some dirt smudges from less-than-perfectly clean feet, and we can't get them out. It's a canvas mat stretched on a wooden frame with several layers of padding underneath, and a plastic layer between the canvas and the pads.

We've tried a hydrogen peroxide solution, but using it too often burns holes in the mat. We've also tried a weak soap solution that we wouldn't have to rinse, but that only made the canvas around the dirt cleaner, without removing the dirt.

We've also talked about steam cleaning the mat, but we don't know if it would significantly shrink the canvas, nor do we know another dojo who's tried it before.

Is there anyone out there who has a secret potion for removing dirt, or experience with steam cleaning a canvas mat?

Mark Gibbons
04-23-2007, 07:59 PM
We rented a cleaner about twice a year when we had a canvas mat. Cleaned stains, cut down smells for a while.


Kevin Wilbanks
04-23-2007, 08:20 PM
I have a friend who cleaned his mat with a pressure washer, and it looks very good. It actually had some kind of soot ground into it, plus lots of the normal discoloration like you describe. Just untie the cover, take it outside and hang it up or lay it on some clean cement, rent a small pressure washer, and spray it with plain cold water.

You might want to get a canvas dropcloth to practice on first. I've used pressure washers and nozzles that will cut holes in cement. I think you'll want a low-power machine and a fan tip.

Amelia Smith
04-24-2007, 06:42 AM
Hi! How is life at Two RIvers? (I used to practice there, in '01).

In the place where I used to practice, we would use soda water to clean blood spots off the mat. I did a google search and found lots of pages on cleaning boat canvas and lawn furniture. They all recommended using mild, non-detergent soap, maybe on a scrub-brush, and rinsing it off. I don't know about soaping up a whole mat -- it might take a very long time to dry. They also said to use a mild bleach solution if the canvas is already stained.

I think the big thing is to get people to wash their feet (if they're dirty) before they get on the mat.

Good luck with it!


Marie Noelle Fequiere
04-24-2007, 02:50 PM
At my school, we use prevention. We have a choice between washing ou feet just before stepping on the tatami - this rule is not always easy to enforce - or wear clean socks. Most of us choose the second solution, because it's the easiest one. We can wear either solid white, gray or black socks. Polka dots are not allowed.
And we are also required to wash our hands before stepping on the mat. Uniforms are to be clean and ironed, and please, no offensive smells. Of course, the tatami still needs to be brushed every day, but the only spots we have to clean are accidental, and do not happen every day.
One more thing about the socks: they should be tight fitting, or they will become a nuisance with each tenkan, and they will have an anoying tendancy to fly off during randori.

09-03-2008, 01:48 PM
Hi Kristen,

I am in the same situation as you were when you posted this question on cleaning a canvas mat.

So it's been over a year since you posted, can you tell me what you ended up doing to clean your mat?