How to wash cross stitch

Got a mark on your finished piece? Don't panic! We'll show you how to clean cross stitch

How to clean stitches 5

When the project you’ve been tirelessly working on picks up a food stain or a dirty hand mark, you can’t help but get a sinking feeling that all your hard work will go to waste. Yet thankfully, there are products on the market that can help you clean cross stitch. We’ll show you step by step how to wash cross stitch!

It’s always a good idea to wash your stitching before you frame it, for even if it looks clean, it will have inevitably picked up some dirt along the way. We’ve recommend hand-washing your stitching if it is just generally grubby, or using pre-wash stain removers drips or spots that are ideal for removing specific stains. A pre-wash should always be followed by a delicate hand-wash.

We have a recipe for making your own delicate hand wash. It’s created for wool, but it is perfect for cross stitch too. Find the guide for how to make no-rinse wool wash

If you find washing your work a bit daunting, then our helpful guide explaing how to wash cross stitch is an absolute must-read. After all, your stitching deserves the best possible finish, so that it looks its very best.


Step 1


how to clean cross stitch


Before washing, remove any excess fluff: wrap masking tape around your fingers, sticky side outwards, and dab on the surface of the stitching. Make sure that all the thread-ends on the reverse side are securely fastened so they don’t work loose in the wash when you are washing cross stitch.

Step 2

How to clean cross stitch

Fill a clean bowl with tepid water, add detergent. Let it dissolve properly before immersing fabric, so it doesn’t leave a residue. Put your cross stitch into the water to wash and leave for the recommended time. For bad stains, soak your stitching in the water for a few minutes longer.

Step 3

How to clean cross stitch

Gently rinse your stitching in cold water until the water runs clear. You may have to let out the water and refill it several times in order to rinse the detergent out. Don’t wring out the fabric as this action could damage the delicate stitches.

Step 4

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Lay cross stitch out flat on a clean towel and roll it into the towel. Gently press down on the towel to remove any extra water from the stitched piece. The towel should be damp, not sopping wet. Use another towel if necessary. You have now finished our how to wash cross stitch process – but what about ironing your clean cross stitch.

Step 5

How to clean cross stitch 5

Spread a fluffy towel on the ironing board and lay your washed cross stitching face-down on top. Iron your cross stitching on a medium setting while it’s still damp to get the wrinkles out, being careful to avoid any metallic threads or embellishments.

Step 6

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For a perfect result, lay newly-ironed cross stitch out on a flat surface to air-dry before framing or mounting. Gently smooth out the fabric from the back and lay it on its front to dry naturally. This will eliminate any dampness. Now you know how to wash cross stitch we hope this won’t be too scary to try out yourself!


 How to wash cross stitch: 5 tips

  •  Try to prevent your cross stitch from becoming dirty in the first place by avoiding eating or drinking as you stitch. Take your cross stitch needles out of the fabric after stitching and keep your needles clean by using a needle emery – just push and pull your needle through to clean off rust, oils or sticky stuff that might accumulate as you stitch.
  • Always read the labels that come with your cross stitch thread, fabric and embellishments to see if they are washable and whether the manufacturer has recommended special washing instructions. Be especially careful with hand-dyed, hand-painted or over-dyed threads or fabrics, as they often run.
  •  The best time to treat stains is immediately after they occur, whether your cross stitching is complete or not. As with clothes, once a stain has set in, it will be harder to remove. 
  • Never wash cross stitch in hot water, as this may result in colour-run. Instead, use cold or tepid water, never scrub your cross stitching and always rinse it through very gently. 
  • It’s important to wash a test piece first to make sure that the colours don’t run. Take a scrap of your cross stitch fabric and add a few stitches in each colour. Then wash with your chosen product following the instructions carefully. If the colours don’t run, wash your cross stitching in the same way.

Want to find out more about cross stitch?

If you are looking for advice on getting started in cross stitching, check out our cross stitch for beginners article or click to find out more about cross stitch thread and cross stitch fabric. If you want to take a look at the free cross stitch patterns we have available for you on Gathered, we have lots of brilliant designs for you! For floral inspirations, try out our lavender cross stitch patterns and our sunflower cross stitch pattern or browse our selection of cross stitch flower patterns. If you are looking for simple designs that are great for beginners try our children’s cross stitch patterns or our  cat cross stitch patterns. For fun cards which are always popular, try our caterpillar cross stitch patterns or for more grown up celebrations, our gorgeous cross stitch cards for all occasions. Don’t miss our special stitch of Durene Jones cross stitch fox pattern either!