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A Guide to Washing, Drying, & Ironing Your Embroidered Treasures

Posted by Bassel Farra on

A Guide to Washing, Drying, & Ironing Your Embroidered Treasures

Embroidery, also known as cross-stitch or needlework, is a detailed stitching process that allows for the customization of various types of apparel, ranging from t-shirts to luggage and everything in between. Embroidery give us the opportunity to put our own special touch on everyday items and bring a bit of life to otherwise plain pieces of apparel. Embroidery is not only good for personalizing your clothes, accessories, and home furnishings; it also makes for a very special gift.

As with any embellished piece, embroidered items require special care in order to last. It would be incredibly unfortunate to spend time and money designing the perfect piece to capture your personality, only to have it ruined due to improper care. Luckily, most garments come with tags that explain how to wash and dry them, and those instructions should always be considered first. In situations where there are no instructions, we hope this guide will protect your item for years to come. It can be difficult to salvage an embroidered item that was handled incorrectly, so we have compiled a step-by-step guide to ensure your item is always properly cared for.


The first step in the preparation stage is testing the bleed on your embroidered item. For example, if you have a white makeup bag with red embroidery, the red threads could bleed into the white if washed incorrectly. To avoid ruining your item in one fell swoop, test the bleed on your color threads prior to any direct contact with water. Testing the embroidery bleed is easy; take a wet cloth and gently dab the stitching to see if the color bleeds onto the cloth. If you discover that the embroidery on your item bleeds, you will want to consult with a professional on how to safely wash the item. If there does not appear to be any bleeding, you are ready for the next step. At Alphabet Soup, we only use polyester threads so that color bleed can be avoided. If the item is designed by us, you are safe to follow the guide below and proceed with washing the garment.

Washing your item

Before you begin, turn the item inside out. A good rule of thumb when washing embroidery is to minimize exposure to pressure, hot water and detergent. If you are washing your garment because there is a stain, allow a stain remover to set in for a few minutes prior to washing the item. Following our rule of minimizing pressure and contact with detergent, you may either hand wash the item or use a washing machine set to the most delicate setting. Cold water only and use a mild detergent or non-chlorine bleach.

Drying your item

When drying your item, you will want to minimize the exposure to heat as much as possible. To do so, we recommend allowing the garment to air dry or tumble dry on the lowest heat setting. Heat exposure poses no risk to the embroidery, but it could cause the garment to shrink, which would result in a puckered look in the embroidery. Do not wring dry.

Ironing and final touches

If you need to iron your garment, wait until it has fully dried and has no moisture to it whatsoever. Before ironing, turn the item inside out again. We advise against direct ironing on the embroidery as it could flatten the design or destroy the threads. To ensure your embroidered item is ironed with the utmost care, iron the back of the garment or place a cloth between the iron and garment itself. Do not ever use the steam function, as it could shrink the fabric and create a puckered look in the embroidery. After ironing, hang or fold your garment and be careful to avoid contact with anything abrasive.

After creating a beautifully embroidered masterpiece, you will want to make sure it lasts for generations. We hate to see garments that have been destroyed due to improper care or negligence. We hope this guide has helped you understand the care process and how to preserve your embroidered treasures. If you’re still not sure, consider reaching out to a professional or a dry-cleaning facility to ensure your garment remains intact. To learn more about caring for embroidered items, contact Alphabet Soup Gifts & Embroidery; we have over 30 years of experience in custom stitching and will be able to advise you on the care and keeping of all embellished garments.