How to Remove Dye Stains From a Cross Stitch

by Chelsea Fitzgerald
Cross stitched items are often made into pillows or framed as wall art.

Cross stitched items are often made into pillows or framed as wall art.

Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

It is frustrating to spend hours on an attractive cross-stitched item only to wash it and discover dye stains on the surrounding fabric. The color bleeding occurs when the dye leaves the embroidery floss or embellishments and transfers itself to the cloth. During processing, all the dye may not have been removed from the thread, particularly dark or red colors. Special care is necessary to prevent damaging the fabric further or increasing the size of the dye stain.

Items you will need

  • Mild detergent for colored fabrics (without optical brighteners)
  • Soft, absorbent towels
  • Iron
  • Small bowls
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • Cotton swabs
  • Eye dropper or clean condiment bottle
  • Sponge

Washing Method

Step 1

Read the wash and care instructions on the cloth and embroidery floss.

Step 2

Wash the cross stitching with the mild detergent and the water temperature recommended on the cloth and embroidery floss. Hand washing is normally recommended but the directions may indicate you can wash the item in a machine on the gentle cycle.

Step 3

Rinse the fabric well with cool water at least three times. Check to ensure the dye stain is gone.

Step 4

Roll the cross stitched item up in a clean, absorbent towel. Unroll it and repeat the method in a another clean, dry towel. Press gently on the rolled towel with the palms of your hands to remove any excess moisture.

Step 5

Unroll the towel and check to ensure no dye stain are on the fabric. If so, repeat the washing technique or try another method to remove the stain. Once the stain disappears, repeat the rolling technique. Remove it from the rolled towel and wait for the cross stitched item to air dry until it is just slightly damp.

Step 6

Iron the cross stitched fabric only if no stains remain. Do this according to the directions on the embroidery floss and the fabric. Ironing the piece sets any stains.

Hydrogen Peroxide Method

Step 1

Mix a thin paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda into a small bowl.

Step 2

Dip a cotton swab into the thin paste and apply it to the dye stain by dabbing it up and down Take care not to touch any of the embroidery floss as it may remove the color from it as well. Do not rub the fabric as it may abrade or weaken it.

Step 3

Squeeze an eyedropper bulb to suction water into it from a small bowl of cool water. Another option is to use a clean squirt bottle, such as a clean mustard or ketchup container. This allows you to flush the area with water.

Step 4

Absorb the water with a dry, clean sponge or soft absorbent cloth. Check to ensure part of the dye stain is gone. If so, repeat the method several times until the dye stain disappears completely.

Step 5

Rinse the area completely using the eye dropper or squirt bottle. Dry thoroughly by rolling the cross stitched item in a soft, absorbent towel a couple of times. Remove the piece from the rolled towel once the excess moisture is gone and allow the cloth to air dry. Iron if necessary to finish the piece or frame it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choose a high-quality embroidery floss before starting any cross stitching project. Read the label to see if it is colorfast. Some allow you to use bleach on cross stitched household items that may require frequent washing, such as a pillow.
  • If you have hard water in your area, use distilled water to wash the cross stitched item.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images