Can Embroidery Be Machine And Hand Washed?

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Many people see embroidery as a hobby and not a part of their day-to-day life. But with the increasing interest in sewing and crafting, DIY home décor, and the booming wedding industry, it’s becoming a more popular addition to an amateur sewer’s repertoire.

Embroidery has many uses around the house and it can even be incorporated into your everyday wardrobe. In this article, I will take a look at the pros and cons of washing embroidery to understand which methods work best.

Can I Wash My Embroidery?

When you purchase your embroidery and hang it on the wall, it will most likely be made to be washed as this is a common aspect of home decor. However, every design has different restrictions and limitations regarding washing so it’s important to look after it right from the start.

There are generally two types of fabric used in embroidery:

Natural Fibers

This includes items such as cotton and linen which are suitable for all cleaning methods including washing. Natural fiber embroideries can be hand washed with soap to remove spots or stains, ironed with a low heat setting and they can also be machine-washed.

Synthetic Fibers

These materials are produced from man-made materials such as polyester and polyamide and tend to be more delicate than natural fibers. They can’t be safely washed with detergent as this can cause rot or shrinkage. However, they can be hand washed in cold water with a mild soap or dry cleaned.

Will Embroidery Get Ruined In The Washing Machine?

If you are washing an embroidery in the washing machine, it’s important to ensure that you choose the right method for your piece. We recommend hand washing or dry cleaning as these methods are gentle when treating delicate materials.

Handwashing – Is It Worth The Effort?

The cheapest, least time-consuming, and most environmentally friendly way to clean your embroidery is by handwashing it in a sink or basin full of cold water with mild soap. You can do this every time after wearing it or when there is a stain. Some people even prefer to hand wash their natural fiber pieces every time they wear them because they’re so delicate. Some companies sell special soap made especially for washing your embroideries.

Machine Washing The Embroidery

Most garment manufacturers recommend machine washing embroideries at a low temperature of around 50-100 ˚F on a gentle cycle using a mild detergent. Washing machines can handle regular washing and heavy-duty cleaning which is why they are a popular option for those who want to avoid hand washing all the time.

Why You Should Hand Wash Your Embroidery?

Gentle, delicate fabrics are not the only thing that can be ruined by washing them at too-high temperatures or in the dryer with other garments. Just like everything else in life, embroidery needs to be cared for and treated with respect. But if you follow the proper washing instructions for machine-washable items your embroidery will come out looking ready for display. Unfortunately, you can’t put your embroidered items in the dryer.

How to Wash The Embroidery Without Damaging It?

Keep in mind that you should always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for laundering. Try these guidelines when washing embroidery.

  1. Use Warm Water
  2. Use Gentle Detergent
  3. Iron on a Lower Setting
  4. Wash Away From Other Items
  5. Avoid Bleach
  6. Use a Humidifier if Needed
  7. Do Not Dry Super Fast.

Use Warm Water

Avoid hot water as it can cause shrinkage, curl and distort patterns. the temperature should be between 50˚F and 100˚F. 

Use Gentle Detergent

Use a mild soap such as Ivory Soap which is always safe for most fabrics, it won’t hurt the embroidery. You can also use a gentle laundry detergent, but not one with bleach as this can make your embroidery look worn out and damaged.

Iron on a Lower Setting

Iron on the lowest setting recommended by the manufacturer of your embroidery or garment. If you have any sewn-on stones or beads, you should iron these before washing to avoid any damage caused by heat or moisture during washing and drying.

Wash Away From Other Items

This is especially important if you are handwashing your lace embroidery. lace can get caught in the lint trap in the washing machine, so it’s better to wash it separately also to avoid tangling with other items and getting damaged. Even though you will want to wash other items in your load, keep all articles like belts, string, or loose laces away from your embroidery.

Avoid Bleach

Bleaching will fade out the colors of your embroidery and make them look worn out much faster than without bleaching them at all. You should also avoid using bleach on metal or metallic fabrics as this can cause discoloration.

Use a Humidifier if Needed

If you do need to use bleach, use it in conjunction with a humidifier to keep your embroidery at the optimal moisture content during washing. This is important as you don’t want to dry your embroidery too fast, as this can cause shrinkage and distortion of the colors. You need to make sure that your embroidery is fluffed out and has room to expand before washing.

Do Not Dry Super Fast

When drying your embroidery, either in the machine or by air-drying, make sure to use a drying cloth or towel to absorb the moisture from the woven threads before putting on the clothing. Putting it on too fast can cause pigment cracking and shrinkage which will make your design look worn out and damaged.

Can Embroidery Be Machine Dried?

Some embroidery can be dry cleaned and washed in the washing machine, but not most embroideries. The most delicate types of materials should always be hand-washed. However, some companies sell special soap that you can use on your machine-washable fabrics to help reduce damage while they are still in the laundry bag.

Some people choose to hang their embroidered garments flat to dry so that they don’t take up too much space when folded. If you choose this route make sure that you use a soft towel on a low heat setting or a hair dryer turned as low as possible without causing any damage to your fabric.

Precautions to Wash Embroidery

Be sure to consult the embroidery’s care label before starting a wash cycle. If your design is hand-made, you may want to wash it by hand anyway as some homemade pieces are meant to be dry-cleaned.

  1. Keep in mind that you should wash your embroidered pieces separately from other clothing so that the pieces don’t end up with spots or stains from the other clothing. When buying clothes for sewing, always look at whether it is washable first before buying or not. You would save time and money if you have done this beforehand.
  2. If your fabric is not pre-shrunk, use cold water and hang the item to dry, or use a cool iron on low heat with no steam to prevent further shrinkage. This can be very important, especially for items like wedding dresses or formal outfits that have sentimental value and need for preservation.
  3. Avoid bleach, as it will make your fabric discolor over time. Some people use hypoallergenic detergent for washing delicate items, you can also try this method to preserve the colors of your embroidery better.
  4. Never use a fabric softener in an ordinary washing cycle because they seal off the fibers and prevent the natural breathability of the item and can make your clothes feel stiff and heavy. Also avoid using fabric softeners as much as possible before washing because natural fibers such as cotton and linen benefit from a “finishing wash” at full strength with no softener to remove residual oils from manufacturing and shipping processes, which causes them to feel rough against the skin.
  5. Avoid tumble drying your embroidered garments, as it will make the colors fade away from being too hot. Some people hang their clothes to dry in a dry and well-ventilated area, this is also a common method used especially for long gowns.
  6. If you are not sure about how to start your washing machine or what temperature to set it on, call the manufacturer of the item you are washing and ask them specifically for their directions.

Tips to Maintain Embroidery

Below are some final tips to help you maintain your embroidery in the best condition possible.

Your embroidery is precious and expensive, so you must take good care of yourself by following these tips.

  • Your embroidery can last a long time if you follow these simple steps to clean them properly and avoid damage.
  • If at all possible, hand wash your delicate items like wedding dresses as they are expensive and sentimental items that need more care than ordinary clothing. It is well worth the time used to handwash your items as they will last longer than if machine-washed.
  • Some companies sell special soap that you can use on your machine-washable fabrics to help reduce damage while they are still in the laundry bag.
  • Never use too much detergent as this will be left behind on the fabric when you rinse it off, doing this can cause a buildup of detergent residue which will take away from the fabric’s natural ability to breathe and can cause a sticky feeling against the skin when touched.
  • Do not dry your clothes in a hot dryer as this can cause heat damage as well. Make sure to use cold water and dry your items by hanging them to dry or using a cool iron on low heat without steam.

Can Hand Embroidery Be Machine Washed?

As a general rule, hand embroidery should not be machine-washed. However, some companies sell special soap that you can use on your machine-washable fabrics to help reduce damage while they are still in the laundry bag.

Hand embroidery is oftentimes fragile and takes a long time to complete. This type of work is rarely used for huge projects as it takes much too long to get the job done. Hand embroidery is usually seen on smaller projects such as decorative pillows, table linens and napkins, clothing, and even household items like placemats and doilies.

Final Thoughts

Embroidery is extremely popular today and can be used on anything from shirt fronts, to bags and dresses. The main thing to remember about embroidery is that it is delicate and can be easily damaged by improper washing. So follow the guide above so that you don’t damage your art.


  1. Reddit – How to wash clothes you’ve embroidered?
  2. Quora – Does embroidery on shirts become undone in the wash?
  3. Reddit – Making Hand embroidery wash safe
  4. Quilting Board – Washing embroidery… colour bleeding?
  5. Vintage fashion guild – Washing / soaking old linen with colored embroidery?
  6. Reddit – But will it survive the wash???



I have been working as a seamstress since I was 12 years old, and I would be happy to teach you what I know. I, along with the rest of my team, investigate numerous sewing, quilting, embroidery, and fabric related how-to guides, and present our findings to you.

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