Laundering Crochet Pieces

Brenda Stratton

Stained Heirlooms
It is always heartbreaking to pull an heirloom crochet piece out for use, only to find it has become stained. And, the older the heirloom is, the more distressing the damage can be. But you’re in luck! There are a few tried-and-true cleaning methods for even the oldest and most delicate pieces.

But keep in mind, there are professionals who specialize in this kind of work, and you may not always want to attempt this kind of repair yourself. A needlework restorer would have many more tips that could help you clean your treasured heirlooms.

Most food stains on cotton cloths respond well to a combination of sunshine and lemon juice. Roll a whole lemon on your counter, applying light pressure as you roll it to get the juices inside flowing. Cut the lemon in half and rub the stain gently with the cut side; then leave the lemon on the spot for half an hour. If the spot is larger than your lemon, you can squeeze the juice over the stain and leave the cut side on the most concentrated area.

After half an hour has passed, launder the crochet piece by hand in warm, soapy water. Rinse it thoroughly and dry flat in direct sunlight. The sun and the lemon work effectively and safely as natural bleaching agents.

Eliminate Discoloration
To eliminate the possibility of your crochet pieces discoloring, never store them in plastic bags. Your crochet piece will yellow from the chemicals in the plastic. Instead, wrap them loosely but completely in acid-free tissue paper and place them in a cardboard storage box or a wooden linen chest.

Washing Filet Pieces
If you want to wash the dust from a filet piece that you have on display in your home, you can wash it by-hand with a mild detergent -- Woolite™ works well -- in warm, never hot, water. Do not scrub, wring or twist your piece, no matter how much you may want to, especially if it has been repaired! It could stretch or break the cotton threads, and it's better to have a slight discoloration than a hole. Instead, squeeze the suds through gently and rinse the piece in cold water until all the soap is removed.

Roll the piece in a clean towel, gently pressing out the excess water. Unroll and change towels if necessary until the piece no longer drips, then lay it out on a flat, padded surface and press it into shape. You may even want to pin the piece into shape until it is completely dry.

Washing Fringed Crochet Pieces
When you wash afghans, shawls and scarves with fringed edges, the fringe can become matted and tangled. To prevent tangled fringe, try adding a good fabric softener to the final rinse in your washer. You can also save yourself some untangling trouble by removing the article from the dryer before it is completely dry. Never dry your fringed articles with each other or other laundry; dry each one separately.

Colored Sequins Troubles
Sometimes a little sequin sparkle is just the right touch to finish off a lacy crocheted blouse. But after a few washings, the sequin color comes off and bleeds onto the crochet fabric destroying the piece. This happens because sequins are made and then coated with their coloring; their cellulose-acetate composition makes them susceptible to heat and chemicals.

It’s always a good idea to hand-wash sequined pieces in a very mild detergent, such as Ivory or Dawn dishwashing liquid, in warm water. Dry cleaning is also an option but be sure your dry cleaner is familiar with handling sequins.

No matter what method you use, it’s always best to treat sequined garments with extra care, keeping in mind the color is only painted on, so it is likely to rub off of the sequin over time.