Washing Cross Stitch 960x640

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How to Wash Cross Stitch (with Video)


Woohoo! You have a finish! Happy dance! … Now what?

You spent all this time carefully stitching each thread into a beautiful work of art. Now it’s time to preserve it for evah! (Or at least as long as you want.)

Do you frame it or stick it in a hoop? 

No, Wait!! You need to wash it!


Don’t wanna read the whole blog post? No problem. Get the basics in this 4-minute video.

Play Video

Why do you need to wash your cross stitch?

You washed your hands before sitting down to stitch. 
You were careful not to spill anything on it while you stitched it.
You didn’t eat or drink anything ANYWHERE NEAR to your project.
You carefully tucked it away in a waterproof container after each stitching session. (Okay, I’m compulsive. 😎 You get the point.)

Do you still need to wash it?


The natural oils in our skin transfer onto the cloth and the floss as we stitch – even if you washed your hands every time. (Unless you wore gloves? Yeah, me neither.) You know it’s true! You’ve seen what happens to your embroidery needle after a while, right? It gets all funky in the middle where your fingers hold it. Our skin has the same effect on textile fibers.

These oils can cause a chemical reaction that, over time, shows up as discoloration all over that project you spent hours on. With more time, they can deteriorate the fibers in the fabric and floss. Even if you used a grime guard, that embroidery floss passed through your fingers hundreds of times.

Is there ever a case when you don’t have to wash a finished cross stitch project?

Sure! Any time you don’t want it to last. 😛 But I’m serious. For example: You wouldn’t bother with one of those new greeting card kits you whip up in an hour.

Materials needed to clean your cross stitch

  • Clean Bowl (or sink)
  • Clear, mild soap
  • Lukewarm water
  • A Fabulous Finish!
  • Glass of Wine (optional)

No washing machines necessary. 😛 

Care and Washing Instructions

First, if you bought a kit and you don’t know where the materials came from, check the care instructions. If you used hand-dyed fabric or floss, ask the seller before washing it.

Clear soap with lukewarm water is probably safe. But I’d hate for you to ruin all that hard work. If you’re not sure, test with a scrap of your fabric and darkest-color flosses in a separate bowl to see if the colors run.

These instructions are perfect for color-fast materials. All DMC materials are colorfast, and most of the other, major manufacturers, too. 

Start by washing your hands. 

Add lukewarm water and a bit of clear, gentle soap to the clean bowl. Use about the same amount of soap you might use to wash your hands. The soap should be mild to avoid damaging the fibers.

The soap should also be clear because the colors in some soaps can transfer onto your project. This ACTUALLY happened to me and I was livid! Now I use this baby soap.

Make the water about the same temperature as your hands. Hot water can cause some cotton floss or fabrics to shrink. 

Let the cross stitch project soak in the soapy water for 10-15 minutes to allow any dirt and grime to lift away. This will also remove any ink left from gridding or from a stamped cross stitch.

Gently swish the project around in the bowl of water for a few minutes. You can rub it around in your hands, but there’s no need to scrub. Scrubbing the project can loosen the stitches.

Next, dump out the soapy water and fill the bowl with fresh water. Swish and swirl the project around in the fresh water to get off the soap residue.

Remove the project from the bowl and place it on to a dry towel. The towel doesn’t have to be a light color, but if it’s dark, it should not be new. The dye from a new, dark towel can transfer onto your project.

If the project is very large and dripping wet, squeeze some of the excess water out before placing it on the towel. You could also add a second towel on top.

Roll up the towel over the project, squeezing as you go to help the towel absorb the water.

Unroll the towels and take a peek at your damp cross stitch project. Does it have a lot of wrinkles? If you want to try to avoid ironing, you can smooth out your finished project with your hands, without pulling on the edges (this can distort the cloth).

Finally, leave your clean cross stitch project laying flat to dry. This is the perfect time to enjoy a nice, relaxing glass of wine or your drink of choice. Maybe read the next chapter in that Wheel of Time book you’ve been meaning to get to. (My fav!)

Your completed cross stitch is now ready for ironing (optional) and framing in a hoop or a tradition frame.

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