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July 23, 2019 3 min read

A tote bag can be waxed at home to make it waterproof. Before getting started, a few precautions should be taken to ensure a smooth and high-quality wax job. Clean the bag and make sure that the material if free of loose strings and any debris. This is best accomplished by washing if the material is machine washable or vacuuming the surface as an alternative. After this step, it is imperative that the material is completely dry. Before starting the waxing process, set up the work area in a well-ventilated area, such as your yard or garage. This will help dilute the strong smell of the wax.

Next, gather the necessary materials. You'll need a lump of wax, whether it's a mix of paraffin and beeswax or organic wax. In addition, you'll need two pots, a cup of water, a paintbrush and a hairdryer.

Step One: Do a spot test to confirm that the wax is compatible with the material of your canvas tote bag. Pick an inconspicuous area on the inside of the bag to rub the wax on. Keep in mind that the material may appear darker than it was before the treatment.

Step Two: Now that you've confirmed that the waxworks, set up a double boiler using the two pots. A double boiler is when you fill one pot with water and bring it to a boil. Then, place the second pot inside the first one with the wax inside. Wait for the wax to melt while stirring occasionally with a wooden stick. Once the wax is completely melted, let it cool off for a few minutes since boiling wax can damage the canvas.

Step Three: Take the brush and evenly spread the warm wax onto the surface of the canvas bag. Make sure that each stroke coats the fabric thoroughly. Take extra care when it comes to coating the seams, crevices, folds and around any ornaments or zippers. Again, be aware that the color of the canvas may slightly get darker.

Step Four: After coating the bag with the wax, work the coating into the fabric with your fingers. Push the wax into the material, allowing it to completely bond with and protect the material.

Step Five: Heat the wax again using a hairdryer. By melting the wax a second time while it is on the canvas, you allow it to more deeply penetrate the material, resulting in an impenetrable bond. If you feel that the initial coating of wax isn't sufficient enough for your purposes, now is the time to add another coating. Focus particularly on the bottom of the bag. Reheat the wax using a hairdryer. During this step, you may also consider waterproofing your bag from the inside too. This especially becomes important if you plan to carry liquids inside of the bag, which could spill and lead to a disastrous leak. The process is the exact same, except the bag is flipped inside out. Keep in mind that waterproofing the inside and outside of the bag will make it stiffer, but sturdier.

Step Six: Now it's time to completely let the bag dry. This can be accomplished by hanging the bag up in a dry, well-ventilated area for one to two days. With this method, the odor from the wax will also air out. However, if you can't wait that long, the bag can also be placed in an old pillowcase and thrown into the dryer for around fifteen to thirty minutes.

It is important to remember that the wax coating will not last forever. Typically, the coating will have to be reapplied once every year. The coating will last longer with proper care. Remember to never wash your bag with hot water. It is the best to use a soft brush with natural bristles to clean the bag or even hand wash with cold water.

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