How To Clean Your Cross Stitch Pictures

by John Wigham

After you spend many hours creating a beautiful cross stitch picture, the last thing you want to do is damage it during cleaning. Many experts suggest you always clean your projects when you finish to remove the oils left behind when you touched the cloth. These oils can attract a surprisingly large amount of dirt over time.

The two methods of cleaning involve either washing your project or having it dry cleaned. You cannot dry clean a project if you’ve added beads, so consider this before adding embellishments.

To decide if your cross stitch picture can be washed, consider both the fabric and the floss. Many cross stitch fabrics can be washed by hand, and they say this on their labels. Some labels even specify a brand of detergent to use.

When if comes to floss, some are washable, other are not. Consult the information from the manufacturer. Even if the manufacturer says the floss is run-resistant, still test it.

To test your floss, choose a few strands of each color. Dip the strands in lukewarm water. Next, place them on a clean, white towel or cloth and pat dry. See if the dye on the floss runs. You may notice that darker colors tend to run more than lighter colors.

If your fabric can be washed, place the entire project into a clean container filled with lukewarm or tepid water and a very mild soap, such as Ivory. The soap or detergent you use must not contain bleach, fragrances, softeners, or “laundry brightners.”

Some stitchers recommend you clean needlework with Orvus, a horse soap made by Proctor and Gamble. Orvus removes dirt without leaving behind the sort of residue soap leaves. Some craft stores sell variations of Orvus for use with needlework projects. If you do use Orvus, handle it with care. Orvus can irritate your skin, so wear gloves and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

After you place your project in the soapy water, let it soak for a few minutes. Then, empty the container and fill with it clean, cold water. Submerge your cross stitch project and swirl it in the water to remove the soap residue. Remove the project, empty the water, refill the container, and then rinse your project again.

Regardless of the type of soap or detergent you use, you need to rinse your project several times. Continue rinsing your cross stitch until all the soap suds are gone and the water is clear.

Remove your project and place it flat on a clean, white cloth or towel. Cover your work with either part of the same towel or with another clean, white cloth or towel. Blot the project dry.

You also can roll the cross stitch project in the clean towel to squeeze out excess water. If you use this method, unroll your cross stitch and smooth it flat after you’ve removed the water.

Iron your project by placing it face down on a clean towel. Make certain your iron also is clean before you start. Set the temperature on the iron low. Most cross stitch fabrics don’t require a great deal of heat to smooth the wrinkles. If this low temperature isn’t enough, you can increase the temperature a little bit at a time until the wrinkles disappear.

Do not iron over beadwork, metallic floss, or blended floss. Instead, just iron the fabric and avoid the areas with embellishments.

Here are some additional tips to remember when cleaning cross stitch projects:

* Consult a professional if you have an heirloom cross stitch project you want to clean. Older fabrics and flosses need to be cleaned by a professional.

* Use tweezers to remove pet fur from your projects before washing.

* Store your projects in plastic bags to keep dirt away. Roll the canvas, don’t fold it, and then place it inside the bag and seal.

* Wash your hands before you start to stitch to avoid soiling your project.

When it comes to cleaning your cross stitch projects, the best approach is to use caution. You’ve spent so much time creating a masterpiece that you need to make certain you don’t hurt your creation. After all, you want your project to be around for years to come.

John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of Patterns Patch an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website has a small team of writers who are devoted to our cross stitch club and enjoy writing about their hobby.
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