Cleaning Needlepoint – Part 2

Cleaning needlepoint requires patience, attention to detail, and the right supplies.

From pillows and stand ups to holiday ornaments and Christmas stockings, your needlepoint treasures add your unique personal touch to your home and family celebrations. And like all pieces of art, they require special care. As delicate fabric crafts, they’re especially susceptible to dust, dirt, and general wear-and-tear. That means a regular cleaning routine is necessary to preserve their beauty. But, the cleaning process isn’t as straightforward as throwing these items in the washing machine.

If your needlepoint only needs light dusting or spot cleaning, you can get some terrific tips for how to do that here. But if your needlepoint needs more thorough cleaning, keep reading for how to care for and preserve your needlepoint pretties so that you can continue to enjoy them for years to come. 🙂

Overall Cleaning Needlepoint

There are two methods for overall cleaning: hand laundering with a mild cleaning solution and professional dry cleaning. Since I’m not a professional dry cleaner, I’ll focus on hand laundering.

Hand laundering a piece of needlepoint is limited to items that can be disassembled relatively easily and to canvases that have not yet been finished. Before you use the following instructions for cleaning a piece of needlepoint, though, please make sure that the threads are color fast

Now, let’s chat about cleaning your needlepoint…

My “go-to” overall cleaning agent is a bar of Ivory soap.

Ivory soap is a gentle cleaning agent that can be effectively used on needlepoint. (Spot test in an inconspicuous place first, though.)

Not sure how to use a bar of soap to create a cleaning solution? Simply fill a (clean) dishpan with lukewarm water and lather up your (clean) hands to create slightly sudsy water. (Note: I have a dishpan that I use only for hand laundering.)

Next, dip a clean white cloth into the solution and then wring out any excess liquid. Gently dab the cloth onto the surface of the needlepoint. Work in small sections and avoid applying too much pressure to prevent damaging the threads.

After you finish cleaning the needlepoint, you will need to remove any residue from the soap.

Dampen a clean white cloth with lukewarm water and gently blot the needlepoint to rinse off the cleaning solution. Be very careful not to saturate the fabric since excessive moisture can cause stretching.

After you have rinsed the needlepoint, lay it flat on a clean towel or mesh drying rack, away from direct sunlight and heat sources, to air dry. Do not hang the needlepoint to dry. (Hanging a piece to dry can cause stretching and/or warping.)

Blocking Needlepoint

Michael Mixon, owner of Hanging Around Hoover, always blocks needlepoint before framing.

If your piece of needlepoint lost its shape or appears slightly distorted after cleaning, blocking can help restore its original form. Blocking involves carefully shaping the damp needlepoint while it dries, ensuring that it retains its intended dimensions.

To block needlepoint, use stainless steel pins or tacks to secure the edges to a (padded) board, stretching the fabric gently into the desired shape. Allow the needlepoint to dry completely while secured in place. 

Above, you see Michael Mixon, owner of Hanging Around Hoover, blocking a piece of needlepoint for framing. Unfortunately, the blocking board he is using is no longer being manufactured, but you can make your own blocking board using a piece of plywood and some gingham check oil cloth. 😉

Caring for your needlepoint treasures

Once your needlepoint is clean and dry, it’s imperative that you display it or store it properly.

Here are a few tips for you:

  • Avoid exposing your needlepoint to direct sunlight (or fluorescent light!) because prolonged exposure can cause fading.
  • If you plan to frame your piece, use acid-free matting and UV-protective glass to shield the needlepoint from harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • When storing a stitched canvas, roll the needlepoint in acid-free tissue paper.  You may also place it in a clean, breathable zippered fabric bag to protect it from dust and moisture.
  • Store your rolled canvas in a cool, dry place, away from potential sources of damage.
  • Whatever you do, please do not fold your needlepoint; that may lead to permanent creases or distortions in the fabric.

To keep your needlepoint looking its best, it’s a good idea to practice regular maintenance.

How can you do that? Well, first of all, consider placing your needlepoint treasures in low-traffic areas. Regularly clean the surface of your pretties with a soft brush or cloth to prevent the accumulation of dust. And if you notice any loose threads or damage, address those promptly to prevent further deterioration.

Yes, cleaning and maintaining needlepoint requires patience, attention to detail, and a gentle touch. But when you follow these guidelines, you can effectively care for your needlepoint treasures, preserving their beauty and integrity for years to come.

Remember to approach cleaning with caution, test any cleaning solutions, and consider seeking professional assistance when needed. With proper care, your needlepoint art will continue to bring you joy for years to come.

Before I go, I want to remind you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. All of our subscribers get a notification when new episodes of Needlepoint TV™ air  and there will definitely be a new one about caring for your needlepoint treasures coming soon. 😉

Alrighty – that’s all for now, my friend.

Have a terrific rest of your day and I’ll see you again soon.

Until then, happy stitching…

Stitch with a smile!


4 thoughts on “Cleaning Needlepoint – Part 2”

  1. Thank you for the tips. I have been useing Dawn dishwashing liquid and get the same effect but I agree with you by useing Ivory soap which will be a little gentler. Karen

    • Hi Karen!
      I’ve heard good things about Dawn, too! Thank you for taking the time to share that tip with us. Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂
      All the best,


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Serendipity Needleworks

Hi, I’m Ellen. A needlepoint teacher and author dedicated to helping motivated but overwhelmed stitchers at every stage find exactly what they need to stitch with confidence. Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the needlepoint world or you’re ready to take your skills to the next level, I’ve fine-tuned a learning experience just for you.

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