Apr 4, 2006

To Bathe or Not To Bathe

That is the question. I bet I got your attention, didn’t I? Were you thinking “Ewww… Not bathe?”

Relax! What I am talking about is: Washing your cross stitch projects! Have you ever teetered on the fence... To Wash or Not To Wash?

Unless your project is stitched on a hand-dyed piece of fabric or you are using hand-dyed floss, it’s perfectly fine to gently bathe your babies. One of my current projects, Japanese Garden, has hand-dyed silks, beads and crystals – I won’t be able to wash it so I am being very careful to keep it protected and clean while I stitch.

I’ve laundered all my pieces stitched with cotton floss (DMC, Anchor, JP Coates) and have never had any problems in the 25+ years I’ve been stitching. Even if you can’t see dirt or oil... It’s still there!

What strikes me as a bit funny is that over a decade ago, Woolite was recommended as the “soap to use” when washing stitched projects. I did that and guess what? All my projects are fine. Now, I use Dawn dish soap – because that’s what I always have on hand.

I wash my pieces one of three ways:

1) Using cool/lukewarm water, I put a drop of Dawn dish soap on my hands and rub them together. I wet the stitched project and rub my hands (gently!) over the front and back sides. Then I rinse under the water until all the soap is gone, and then a few more minutes just to be sure.

2) I put a bit of cool/lukewarm water in the sink or a shallow container with a tiny bit of Dawn dish soap and swish it around. I put the piece in and swish it around. Then I rinse under running water until all the soap is rinsed out.

3) I’ve bought pieces that have seemed unusually dirty or stained, so I’ve soaked them overnight with denture tablets and cool water. Then I rinse really well under running water. All the stains came out.

Speaking from experience, NEVER wring out your stitched project after washing. You will have so many wrinkles that may never come out. Luckily, my experience was with an unstitched piece of Aida and I didn’t ruin a stitched project.

Let your project dry naturally. Most of the time, I lay a fluffy towel on a table and put the newly bathed project on top face down. Then I put another towel on top, pressing gently to soak up the water. Sometimes, I let the project drip dry hanging in the tub.

When the piece is slightly damp, I use an iron on the backside pressing gently until it’s dry. If you’ve used beads, or specialty threads that may melt, be cautious about using a hot iron.

There you go... You now have a clean precious! It’s ready to be laced and then framed, but those are topics in and of themselves... for another time.


Alcuin Bramerton said...

The frame, of course, will need to be washed carefully inside and out.

Old Yankee Stitcher said...

Meari, thanks for the tips. I have a piece with a stain and the denture tablet thing may work. I hadn't ever thought of trying that.

Jessica and Colby said...

Thank you for posting this. My mother passed away a little over a year ago from Breast Cancer and I just completed a project she had started for my brother. The project is older and dirty but I was afraid to just wash it because it is not something that can ever be replaced. I appreciate your advice!