How To Wash Hand Embroidered Clothes: Care + Considerations

You’ve finished stitching your embroidery design on your favorite shirt, denim jacket, or jeans. So now, what’s the best way to wash hand embroidered clothes? This post is full of tips and recommendations to preserve and protect your embroidery so you will be able to wear it for years to come.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a commission if you decide to sign up or purchase a class. I only recommend classes that I have tried and love!

hand washing an embroidered sweater

How To Hand Wash Embroidered Garments

The best way to wash embroidered clothes is by hand. I know it’s not always realistic, but hand washing is way more gentle on delicate fabrics and stitches. Using this cleaning method will increase the longevity of your creations. This video has a good comparison of machine vs hand washed garments; it does make a difference!

  1. Make sure to wash the embroidered item by itself.
  2. Turn the clothing inside out.
  3. Fill up the sink with cold water (this will prevent the colors from bleeding) and add a small amount of mild soap.
  4. Immerse the clothing in the soapy water and allow to soak for a few minutes.
  5. Gently squeeze the clothing, allowing the soap to set in. Avoid rubbing the embroidery stitches if possible.
  6. Drain the sink and rinse under running water or soak in the sink full of clean water.
  7. Refrain from wringing out the clothing; gently fold and squeeze the clothing to remove excess water. Then place the clothing in between a dry towel and press dry.
  8. Allow the clothing to air dry on a hanger, clothing rack, or clothesline.

How to Wash Embroidered Clothes In a Washing Machine

Disclaimer: This is not the best way to wash embroidery, but if you really insist, wash at your own risk!

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I have personally machine-washed embroidery and the color and stitches have stayed intact, but I haven’t tested this long term. Machine washing will most likely shorten the lifespan of your embroidery, so try to limit it as much as possible.

  1. Wash the article of clothing by itself. Use a laundry bag if you have one to reduce friction.
  2. Turn the clothing inside out.
  3. Use the delicate wash cycle with cold water using a mild detergent or soap.
  4. Avoid using any harsh chemicals such as bleach or fabric softener.

What About Drying?

It is never a good idea to put embroidery in the dryer. Doing this can make the thread fuzzy and frayed. Your embroidery will not look as nice and the stitches may even fall out!

Additionally, machine drying, especially with high heat, may shrink your clothes or stitches which could ruin the embroidery.

Hang drying/air drying is the best way!!

flower embroidery on a yellow knit sweater

How to Protect Hand Embroidery On Clothing

These tips are ones to take into consideration before and after you stitch on a piece of clothing.

Use High Quality Embroidery Floss

I recommend using an embroidery floss such as DMC because it is colorfast. It’s got a nice texture and sheen to it compared to cheaper embroidery threads, which have a tendency to be a bit more brittle and fuzzy.

While you can use synthetic threads, I prefer to stick with cotton because other kinds of thread can be a bit harder to secure.

Secure All Loose Threads

I know a lot of people don’t like to finish embroidery with knots but…I’m going to go ahead and say that I recommend knotting all of your embroidery stitches for clothes. The stitches on clothes are subject to so much more movement and friction that it’s entirely possible for stitches to fall out if they aren’t secured well. Here is how to properly secure your stitches.

Choose A Natural Base Fabric

It’s best to stick with natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, and denim. Stretchy fabrics or materials that are synthetic may lose elasticity and wear out more quickly.

Add Some Embroidery Stabilizer to the Back to Protect Stitches

I don’t personally add any stabilizer to the back of my embroidery projects.

However, if you’re still worried that some stitches will come loose, iron-on stabilizers may help to protect the embroidered area. This will decrease the amount of friction the stitches on the back of the embroidery are exposed to, which my lessen the chances of the stitches coming loose.

Tender Touch by Sulky is an option that has relatively good reviews.

Spot Clean If Possible

You can definitely wash your embroidered clothing, but spot cleaning is a great option if the item isn’t completely dirty or soiled. It never hurts to try and minimize how often you are washing the embroidered piece!

I hope you find these tips helpful. Proper care will allow you to wear and enjoy your embroidered clothing for a long time.

Happy stitching!


Can you wash embroidered clothing?

Yes, you can wash hand embroidered clothes, but with a bit more special care than usual. The best way to wash them is by hand using cool water and mild soap, then allow the clothing to air dry.

Can you dry clean embroidery?

Dry cleaning should be avoided if possible. The harsh chemicals could affect the color of the embroidery threads.

Can you iron hand embroidered clothing?

Yes, you can! Just make sure to use the proper settings with a pressing cloth or a thin, clean towel between the iron and the clothing to protect the embroidery. Check out this post for even more tips.

Does embroidery thread shrink in the dryer?

Most embroidery thread is made of cotton or synthetic material, which has the potential to shrink when exposed to high heat in the dryer. It’s best to allow an embellished garment to air dry instead of throwing it in the dryer.

Can you steam clothes with embroidery on them?

Steaming is normally fine for embroidered clothing. Make sure to read the care instructions of the garment you plan to steam. If you want to be extra careful, turn the clothing inside out so you aren’t directly steaming the front of the embroidery.

Can you put embroidery in the washing machine?

You can, but it’s better to wash embroidered clothing by hand, which will be gentler on the stitches. If you absolutely have to use the washing machine, turn the clothing inside out and wash by itself on a gentle cycle using cold water and a mild soap or detergent.

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