The Best Ways to Care for Clothing and Accessories With Embroidery

Model Embroidered Blouse Pink Mini Skirt Hat
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Whether it’s a sweatshirt, necklace, or nearly any other type of clothing, apparel and accessories with embroidery can be some of the most striking pieces in a person’s wardrobe.

Because embroidery involves intricate patterns of precisely-stitched, colorful threads, they tend to be fairly fragile, especially when exposed to heat, so they should be cared for gently.

Nobody wants the custom embroidery on their favorite jacket to become damaged. Thankfully, there are a couple of golden rules when it comes to caring for embroidered clothing and accessories.

Test For Color Bleeding

Before you clean embroidered clothing or accessories, it’s a good idea to test the embroidery for color bleeding, especially if you’re cleaning it for the first time.

Color bleeding is when the dyes used to color a piece of clothing start to run when exposed to water. Not only can it lead to the colors becoming washed out, but it can also cause different colors to bleed into each other. You probably don’t want that.

Start by wetting part of a cotton ball or paper towel with clean, cold water. Then, gently rub it over the embroidered surface. If colors show up on the cotton ball or paper towel, you can try soaking the clothing in cold water and gently patting it dry with a paper towel until the colors don’t run.

Woman Holding Laundry Basket
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Stain Removal

Because embroidered clothing can be so intricate, it’s important to deal with stains as soon as possible, ideally before the liquid causing the stain has a chance to dry. Gently blot it with a wet cotton ball or paper towel. Never scrub an embroidered design.

You can also remove stains by blotting them with a cotton ball with water, detergent, and an acidic liquid like vinegar or lemon juice until the stain is gone. Baking soda can be helpful for specific stains, but be careful and use it sparingly.

Wash Embroidered Clothing and Accessories Gently

A good rule of thumb for washing embroidered clothing and accessories is to hand wash whenever possible.

Whatever you do, never wring out wet embroidered clothing. Embroidery is delicate, and tossing it in a conventional washing machine or treating it roughly are good ways to unravel its threads and damage the design.

Here’s how to wash embroidered clothes or accessories safely.

  1. Fill a clean bowl, sink, or tub with cold water and mild detergent.
  2. Gently place the clothing item into the water and gently move it around with your hand.
  3. Let the item sit in the water for 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully drain the water and refill the vessel with cool water.
  5. Complete this process until the water is completely soap-free.

How To Wash Embroidered Items In A Washing Machine

Ideally, you should always wash embroidered accessories or clothing by hand. That said, it can be a time-consuming and intensive process, and not everyone has the time for it. Using a washing machine is generally not recommended for most embroidered clothing and accessories, especially jewelry.

If you must wash your clothes in a conventional washing machine, always clean on the delicate setting with cold water. Also, avoid machine-washing embroidered items with metal components like zippers.

Air Dry Hanging Clothes Outdoors
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Air Dry Embroidered Clothing and Accessories

In general, you should avoid exposing embroidered clothing and accessories to heat whenever possible. Instead, it would help if you always tried to air dry embroidered apparel and accessories. Heat causes wet clothes to shrink, which can distort the embroidery design and cause its stitches to come undone.

With this in mind, don’t use a conventional dryer to dry embroidered clothing items. If your home has a radiator, don’t drape embroidered clothing over it to dry.

Dry cleaning is not recommended, as many dry cleaners use harsh chemicals that can ruin the color of the embroidery.

Ironing and Using Embroidery Stabilizer to Protect Stitches

Again, heat and embroidery are usually a bad combination. With this in mind, ironing embroidered clothes and accessories is risky.

If you have to iron embroidered clothes or accessories, make sure to protect them from the heat as much as possible.

  1. Flip the clothing inside-out if possible.
  2. Always avoid ironing embroidered clothing while it’s wet, and don’t steam it.
  3. Never place a hot iron directly on the embroidered pattern. Instead, place one or two pieces of cloth over the embroidery pattern before ironing it. Alternatively, iron the design from the opposite side, but do so carefully.
  4. An iron-on embroidery stabilizer can protect the stitching from the heat of an iron. Just don’t expose it to steam.
Woman Black Dress Floral Embroidery Skirt
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

General Maintenance

If you can help it, don’t expose embroidered clothing to dirt, harsh chemicals, or anything that can stain. You can also sometimes clean a piece of clothing or accessories by using a hand vacuum or certain attachments on a regular vacuum cleaner, like a crevice tool.

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