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Old 04-23-2007, 06:41 PM   #1
Kristen Hall-Geisler
Dojo: Two Rivers Aikikai
Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1
Question How to Clean a Canvas Mat

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?
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Old 04-23-2007, 07:59 PM   #2
Mark Gibbons
Location: Seattle, WA
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 177
Re: How to Clean a Canvas Mat

We rented a cleaner about twice a year when we had a canvas mat. Cleaned stains, cut down smells for a while.

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Old 04-23-2007, 08:20 PM   #3
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 788
Re: How to Clean a Canvas Mat

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.
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Old 04-24-2007, 06:42 AM   #4
Amelia Smith
Amelia Smith's Avatar
Dojo: Martha's Vineyard Aikido Club
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 154
Re: How to Clean a Canvas Mat

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!

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Old 04-24-2007, 02:50 PM   #5
Marie Noelle Fequiere
Marie Noelle Fequiere's Avatar
Dojo: Atibon Aikido, Port Au Prince, Haiti
Location: Port au Prince
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 295
Wink Re: How to Clean a Canvas Mat

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.
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Old 09-03-2008, 01:48 PM   #6
jimalvarez's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Livermore-Shinrei Dojo/Livermore, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5
Re: How to Clean a Canvas Mat

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?

Jim Alvarez

Chief Instructor
Aikido of Livermore-Shinrei Dojo
Livermore, CA
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