Preserving a canvas tarp can be done by regularly cleaning and waterproofing the tarp. The only things you need to get started are non-detergent soap, water, silicone spray, white vinegar and water-proofing spray.
- Clean the tarp
Brush off any dust or soil and wash with a mixture of non-detergent soap and water. Detergent-based soaps will damage the material and should be avoided. After washing, immediately rinse the tarp with water to get rid of any soap residue. Dry the canvas thoroughly, and don't store or fold the canvas while wet.
- Perform maintenance on the parts
Regularly apply the silicone spray on the zippers to help lubricate them. Make sure to move the zipper up and down to ensure that the product is worked into the ridges. Avoid using petroleum products on the zippers. Spray the canvas with a mixture of half white vinegar and half water; this helps to prevent the spread of mildew.
- Waterproof the canvas
A traditional cotton canvas tarp does not need to be waterproofed due to the natural tendencies of cotton fiber to swell when wet. However, woven-acrylic or vinyl-coated polyester canvas is still vulnerable to water and should be regularly treated. Follow the manufacturer's directions when applying the waterproofing product. Make sure not to use a silicone-based product on acrylic canvas as it is incompatible with fluorocarbon, a chemical used in the initial factory waterproofing.