The stockings that are hung by the chimney with care are just some of the Christmas decorations that grace our homes during the holiday season. Along with the tinsel and lights, decorative pillows, throws, Christmas tree skirts, and bedding help bring the holiday spirit alive.
Unfortunately, these items get dirty with spilled food, sticky candy hands, pet stains, and dust. With a bit of special care, most can be cleaned and treasured for years to come.
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Christmas stockings come in all shapes, sizes, and fabrics. Let's take a look at several different types and how to keep them clean:
- Velvet: Stockings made from velvet should be dry cleaned by a professional cleaner. If they are wrinkled, never press with an iron, or you'll have the imprint of the iron's soleplate left as a permanent decoration. Use steam to lift the fibers and a soft brush to leave them silky smooth.
- Needlepoint or Cross-Stitch: Needlepoint stockings are beautiful and took someone a very long time to create. To brighten the colors, give them a good vacuuming with the upholstery brush. If they are stained, take them to a professional dry cleaner. Cross-stitch is usually done on a fabric that can be hand-washed. Be sure to test the threads for colorfastness before proceeding.
- Felt: Felt stockings should also head to a dry cleaner. Felt is prone to shrinking and fading and should never be saturated with water. If the stocking has embellishments like sequins or beading, any type of cleaning may destroy the design if the decorations are glued on. Proceed with caution. To remove dust, place the stocking in a mesh bag and tumble in the dryer on the unheated air cycle.
- Knit or Crochet: These stockings are the easiest to clean. Hand-wash in lukewarm water with a gentle detergent just like a sweater. Rinse well—never wring out water or the fabrics will stretch. Dry flat and reshape to the correct size.
- Wool: Wool woven stockings can be hand-washed in tepid water or sent to a professional cleaner. Dry flat and press with pressing cloth if needed.
- Quilted: Quilted stockings should be hand-washed in cool water to prevent fading or color bleeding. Rinse well and dry flat.
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Decorative holiday pillows can be embroidered, made of needlepoint, quilted, or made from a decorative fabric. If the pillow just needs to be refreshed or is dusty, place it in a mesh bag and tumble in the dryer on cool air.
If the pillow has a removable cover, follow the fabric care label instructions. Most will need to be dry cleaned, but you can often use a home dry cleaning kit for lightly soiled items. Be sure to pretreat the stains using the kit's cleaning solvent.
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Christmas Tree Skirt
The most common tree skirt stains are dirt/dust, tree sap, animal urine, and water spots. Always treat the stains as quickly as possible by blotting away any liquid and removing solid matter with the edge of a dull kitchen knife. Use a spray bottle with cool water to saturate the stain and then blot with a clean white cloth. Never scrub the stain, as that can harm the fabric. Treat the sticky component of the stain with an enzyme-based stain remover and give the tree skirt a rinse in the wash. Let air dry.
If the tree skirt is adorned with beads, sequins, metallic threads or appliques, lace, felt, quilted designs, multicolored prints, and other types of decorative trim, it cannot be washed safely due to the glues and adhesives used. Time to head to the dry cleaners.
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Holiday Plush Toys and Decorations
If you have plush snowmen or reindeer that are dusty, place them in a mesh bag and give them a quick tumble in the dryer on cold air to remove dust. If you have fabric or plush decorations or Christmas toys that are stained or need a more thorough cleaning, be sure to remove any batteries or music boxes, or Santa may never dance again. Treat the fabrics with enzyme-based stain removers, and blot the stains with water to remove.Continue to 5 of 5 below.