Embroidery can be a great addition to clothing, or simply work well as a decorative piece of art. Either way, it’ll need cleaning regularly to remove dust and grime.
Considering embroidery is fairly delicate, it’s fair to wonder what the best cleaning method might be. This is what we’ll look at below.
Can You Put Embroidery in the Washing Machine?
You can put embroidery in the washing machine, provided the fabric it’s on can be washed. For example, an embroidered patch on cotton or denim will be fine, but a decorative piece done on muslin might be best hand-washed.
The most sensible option for embroidery is to wash it by hand. The stitching isn’t as strong as those used to hold clothes together, as it’s an entirely decorative thing. Also, it’s usually done by hand, meaning there are more chances of it coming undone.
Will Embroidery Get Ruined in the Washing Machine?
Embroidery shouldn’t get ruined in the washing machine if you’re careful about how you wash it. Follow these tips to minimise the risk of pulling or breaking a thread:
- Wash the item on its own, ideally without any zips or buttons.
- If this isn’t possible, make sure zips and buttons are done up.
- Turn the item inside out (if clothing).
- Consider washing embroidery art in a pillow case, but it’s better done by hand.
- Brightly coloured thread can bleed, so wash it on a cold wash.
- Use a very mild detergent, ideally without any stain-removal ingredients.
- Air dry the item, and use a low spin cycle on the washing machine.
Can Embroidery Thread Be Washed?
Embroidery thread can certainly be washed, as can embroidery not done on clothing (such as wall hangings and artwork). However, it’s best done by hand, as this allows you to control water temperature and agitation much more closely.
That said, if your embroidery thread is wool or silk, don’t try to wash it at all. These should be washed at a dry cleaner, as the threads are too delicate and don’t take well to being washed. Only wash cotton or synthetic fibres, either by hand or in the washing machine.
To wash embroidery by hand, do the following:
- Run some lukewarm water into a bowl or bathtub. It should feel the same temperature as your hand at the absolute hottest.
- Add a small amount of mild laundry detergent. Swish it around to make sure it’s dissolved.
- Dip your embroidery in the water and allow it to soak for up to 10 minutes.
- Drain the water and replace with clean water. Dip the item in and rinse out the detergent.
- Lay it flat on a towel to dry.
Embroidery should be fine to be washed in a washing machine, provided it’s on sturdy fabric. If not (or you’re not sure), just wash it by hand instead. This is the easiest way to avoid or minimise damage to the delicate embroidery floss.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.