How to wash hand embroidery - embroidery samplers drying
Embroidery tips,  Tools and materials

How to wash hand embroidery

After long hours of work, your hand embroidered piece is finished. Congrats!

Now you want to display it or wear it, right?

First, let’s see why you should wash your hand embroidery?
  1. To remove marking lines. You can read more about pattern transferring tools HERE
  2. To remove hand oils that you leave on the fabric while working. If you don’t remove these, they tend to become yellow stains with time.
  3. To remove any dust or stains that get on the fabric during the time of the embroidery process.
Now, let’s see how to wash hand embroidery

The general recommendation is to wash hand embroidery by hand, in cold water, mild detergent, and flat dry.

 Step by step process should look like this:

  1. Check for color bleeding. I use a cotton swab to do that. I wet it under the running water and gently rub it over every color used in the embroidery. You should pay more attention to bright colors like red or blue as they tend to bleed the most. If the colors are stable, it is safe to wash. Read more about preventing color bleeding HERE.
  2. Fill the sink or a bowl with lukewarm water and add a drop of mild detergent.
  3. Place your embroidered piece in the water and stir time after time.
  4. Check for any stains left and if all the marking signs are gone.
  5. Pour out the water with soap and add clean lukewarm water. Rinse. Change the water again.
  6. After several rinses, when all the soap is gone, fill the bowl with fresh water for the last rinse and add a tablespoon of white vinegar. Rinse the embroidery. Vinegar locks the color and prevents it from bleeding. Also, it gives extra shine to the floss.
  7. Dry embroidery. Place your embroidered piece between two clean towels, roll them, and gently squeeze to remove most of the water. Lay the embroidery face up on a clean towel or drying rack, lay flat, and let it air dry until it is just damp.
  8. Iron your embroidery to get the best look of your embroidered piece. Place your work face down on soft fabric or towel and press with a medium-hot iron. Please do not iron sequins or beads as they may change the shape or color with the heat.
Big No in washing hand embroidery:
  • No hot water. It may cause floss bleeding, shrinking of the floss or the fabric.
  • No harsh chemicals.
  • No bleach.
  • No squeezing, pulling, folding, or wringing the fabric.
  • No tumble dryer.
  • No for washing for silk or wool embroidery. These should be dry cleaned.
Hand embroidered jeans hanging to dry
Hand embroidery on a t-shirt work in progress
In the end, some real talk

Every craft blog, or care instructions of any embroidery floss, will tell you that you can’t wash hand embroidery in a washing machine. 

If it is a decorative piece, wall hanging, pillowcase, a banner, or so, you will wash it once or twice a year, and you should definitely do that by hand. Follow the instructions above, and you’ll be fine!

But what if it is an embroidered tea towel, t-shirt, denim piece, or another garment that you wear or use and wash frequently?

In this case, you should answer some questions and then – make a decision.

  • Am I ok that the embroidery may get less shiny and maybe dull with time?
  • Will I be able to fix it if some stitches start running after washing?
  • Does this piece have sentimental or financial value?

If you embroidered your clothes to wear them and you can fix the embroidery in case it starts running, go ahead and wash it in a washing machine!

On the other hand, if you inherited a hand-embroidered piece of great value (or bought it for big money) – don’t risk and wash it by hand.

 

In case you decide to wash your hand embroidery in a washing machine, follow these guidelines:
  • Turn the embroidered piece inside out before washing
  • Use mild detergent
  • Choose a gentle washing cycle (wool or handwash options)
  • Wash it at a low temperature
  • Do not tumble dry

 I wash most of my hand embroideries by hand, using the method described above. 

Also, I have some hand-embroidered clothes, like t-shirts or jeans, that I wear frequently and wash them in a washing machine with the rest of the laundry. Of course, the floss colors are not as bright and shiny as they were, but I’m happy to wear these clothes. And not as delighted to wash them by hand 🙂

What is your next embroidery project going to be?

If you are looking for a new embroidery project, check out these embroidery patterns and give them a try!

How to wash hand embroidery Pin

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