How to Clean a Vintage Cross Stitch

Over time, a cross stitch will get dusty and dirty. Today I’m sharing how to clean a cross stitch..

Vintage Virginia Tech Hokies Cross Stitch Before Cleaning -

Earlier this week I shared the “Hokie Corner” that I created in our family room using vintage Virginia Tech memorabilia.

A Virginia Tech football cross stitch that my grandmother made back in the 1980’s is one piece that I used in my display.  The cross stitch had gotten quite dirty over the years, especially since it spent the last 20 years in my classroom.

Before I could use the cross stitch in my display, I knew that I would need to clean it.  It ended up being an easy process that didn’t take long to complete.

How to Clean a Cross Stitch Picture

Take the Cross Stitch Apart

To take the cross stitch apart.  I removed the paper backing that my grandmother glued in place and this is what I found.

I used a pair of needle nose pliers to pull out the points holding the cross stitch in place and then removed the hanger.  I saved and was able to reuse the hanger and the brads that held it in place.

How to Clean a Vintage Cross Stitch - Back of Cross Stitch Before -

I washed the frame with soapy water and scraped off and removed the remaining paper backing and dried glue.

Granny mounted the cross stitch on a piece of cardboard covered by batting and a thin sheet of interface.  I was able to save all of this and reuse it.

How to Clean a Vintage Cross Stitch - Lining of Cross Stitch -

Wash the

To clean the cross stitch, I put some water in a bucket, added some laundry detergent, and swirled it with my hand until the detergent dissolved. 

I then soaked the cross stitch in the detergent mixed with water.  I meant to do this overnight but we went out of town for the weekend, so my cross stitch soaked for a few days. 

After it had soaked, I swished it around in the water to make sure that it was getting as clean as possible.

Then I rinsed it out and spread it on a towel to dry.

After it dried, I ironed it on both the back and front sides.

You can see that it now is clean except where the edges of the cross stitch touched the stain on the wood frame.

How to Clean a Cross Stitch Picture - Cross Stitch After Washing and Pressing with an Iron -

Remount the Cross Stitch

Wrap the cross stitch around the batting lined cardboard and tape into place.  Granny used masking tape, I used packing tape.

How to Clean a Cross Stitch Picture - Cleaned Cross Stitch Remounted and Ready for Framing -

The cross stitch looks so much better after being washed.

How to Clean a Cross Stitch Picture - Picture is Clean and Ready to Put Back in the Frame -

Reframe the Cross Stitch

Use a point driver and four points to hold the cross stitch in the frame.  I bought my Logan Point Driver a few years ago and have found it to be quite useful. 

How to Clean a Vintage Cross Stitch - Use a Point Driver to hold the Cross Stitch in the Frame. -

Add Backing

Cut out a square of paper for the back and glue into place.  Reattach the hanger.  I forgot to take pictures of this step.

Now the picture is clean and ready to be enjoyed for many more years!

How to Clean a Cross Stitch - This 30+ year old cross stich looks like new after being cleaned.

If you use Pinterest, I’d love it if you would pin this project for others to discover.

How to Clean a Cross Stitch Picture - Don't pass by a vintage cross stitch at the thrift store. Cleaning it is easy. Get the step-by-step tutorial at

If you see needlework like a cross stitch at a yard sale or thrift shop and like it but it’s dirty, don’t pass it by.  Cleaning it is surprisingly easy!


  1. Washing it certainly made a difference in how it looks. I loved to cross-stitch years ago. I made a lot of things and gave them all away. When my best friend was getting rid of things, I saw a sampler I had made for her. I told her I wanted it back if she were getting rid of it! (We are VERY good friends.) Now I have something I made.

    1. I’m glad you got your sampler back as I know you put a lot of work into it. I loved to cross stitch when it was popular and still have my favorites: two samplers and a Patt Moss scene (that one was a lot of work!).

  2. I like to have my embroidery under glass; most of the stuff I made is not; if I buy it, clean it, I try to put in under glass to keep it clean.Look forward to seeing your completed room!

  3. If you’re worried about the dye running a lot, you can always add a Shout Color Catcher sheet to your water. It will help. Make sure you also avoid bleach, biologic detergents, and specialty wool washes.

  4. Is it possible to clean a cross stitch WOODEN ornament? If so, how? Thank you for any help you can give me.

    1. Can you take it apart? That’s the only way I can think to clean it. Take it apart, wash the cross stitch part, then put it back together. I hope this works!


  5. Thank you for your quick reply, Paula. Unfortunately I can’t take it apart. I may have to experiment. I’ll let you know if I come up with a solution. Hope you and your family are well. Sherri

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