You may find that your needlework needs additional care. In most cases, a light vacuuming or dusting will suffice. For methods on how to safely mechanically clean your embroidery without causing stress or damage, check out this publication by the Canadian Conservation Institute.Wet cleaning should be completed with extreme caution and only if necessary. For delicate, fragile, or important pieces in your collection, you should consult a textile conservator or a professional dry cleaner, who may be able to complete this step without harming your needlework. If you decide wet cleaning could be safely completed in your own home, consider these tips:
- Test the dye sensitivity of each thread to avoid dye bleed during a wet cleaning.
This can be done using a damp cotton swab pressed against each colored thread. The risk associated with this approach could be dye bleeding if not done carefully. A more interventive approach would be to carefully cut off a piece of thread at the end of a design and press the thread between two wet paper towels. Although the removal of material is seldom practiced in museums, this approach is sometimes used to avoid dye bleeding that can occur in the first approach.
- Hand wash with mild detergents and cold distilled water
- Never wring out your needlework after washing
- Do not use a machine for drying, instead dry your needlework flat
Even with these precautions, cleaning needleworks (especially embroideries) can be a very delicate task. We wish you all the best with caring for your needlework at home! If you are ever unsure, consult a conservator.
We hope you are enjoying these entries in our series focused on caring for your family heirlooms. This series will continue throughout the summer and cover a variety of items and materials. If you have any comments on the series thus far, including materials you’d like to see covered in future posts, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are in our hearts and minds as collectively we focus on saving lives. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. When we emerge from this global crisis we must and will rely on art and culture, preserved for today and for future generations, to foster joy, well-being and hope. We encourage you to visit our web site for regular updates on our department of art conservation and news coverage of our treasured students and alumni at home and abroad.