Handle with Care: How to Protect Aida and Other Cross Stitch Fabric

From Aida to linen: The care and upkeep of cross stitch fabric

Stain on Aida Fabric
Mystery Stain on Aida Fabric. Photo © Connie G. Barwick, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Fabrics such as linen and Aida are an essential Cross Stitch supply. They are the most commonly used fabrics when cross stitching. Caring for them doesn't have to be a chore. There are just a few steps and tips that will keep your cloth clean and usable for years to come. Let's learn more about protecting and cleaning Cross Stitch fabric.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Clean hands are the first defense against damage to Cross Stitch fabric.
    Wash your hands before stitching. This is essential! There are oils on your hands that can stain the fabric and let's not forget about the dirt (even the stuff you can't see). Stop and wash your hands if you touch anything that may soil them while you are stitching. Gently ask anyone who wants to touch your cross stitching to wash his or her hands first. Make sure you dry your hands and DO NOT use lotion afterwards. 
  1. Keep projects away from children and pets.
    Neither small children or pets will understand the need to keep fabric clean. Some pets may even chew the fabric causing damage or holes. As much as we love our pets, they can have dirty paws that will get your fabric dirty with mud. Children also have sticky and dirty hands. While you want to show your child what you are working on, have them look with their eyes, not touch with their hands. 
  2. Keep all tools and implements used on Cross Stitch fabric clean.
    Store scissors, marking pens, needles, and other tools in a safe place and dedicate them to cross stitching.Your scissors and needles can get oil or sticky glue on them. This will stain your fabric or cause oil spots. Clean your cross stitch tools with alcohol before using. 
  3. If you use a hoop, clean it with alcohol or mild detergent and allow to completely dry.
    This is absolutely essential! Your frame can cause stains without you even knowing. If you frame is dirty, it will leave a ring. Between the oil on your hands the oil on the frame, your cross stitch can be ruined. Frames should be held by the frame and not the fabric. The natural oils from your hands may eventually stain the fabric. You may also want to use protective fabric sleeves on frames to help keep the fabric clean. For example, Nordic Needle carries a variety of Grime Gard covers. This is very important! Your hoop can have a lot of dirt on it and stain the fabric around the project. 
  1. To avoid creases, store fabric rolled up or flat instead of folded.
    A crease may be next to impossible to iron out, and fading may occur along the folds. This is especially true for older fabric. If you roll up your cloth, you will avoid creases. Aida cloth is already stiff and creases in it will just add to the headache of stains and ironing. Dirt will also get into the folds of the fabric. 
  1. Clean Aida, linen, and other Cross Stitch fabrics with cool water and a very mild detergent.
    If bright flosses bleed, keep rinsing the project with cool water until it runs clear. Do not wring the fabric out. Press it between the folds of a clean white towel to remove most of the water and lay it flat to dry in a safe location. Iron before completely dry. You can also use a laundry pen or bleach pen for spot cleaning but be aware that bleach pens can cause the fabric to change a different color. 

Taking care of your cloth is essential to a beautiful project. It will save you countless hours cleaning if you take these few short tips and apply them to your daily stitching. Less hours of cleaning and more hours of stitching is what we all want.