How to Clean Needlepoint Pictures and Upholstery

Deb asked: How do I clean needlepoint pictures and sofas done in needlepoint? I have a few needlepoint pictures that are NOT under glass. They have dust and smoke that has accumulated on them over the years. I also have three pieces of antique furniture that was done in needlepoint. These have been used over the years and may need freshening up. Any help would be appreciated.

Although you can clean needlepoint yourself, it is strongly suggested that you take any antique pieces or those with large monetary or emotional value to a professional. For the rest, this method will deliver results.

You Will Need:

  • Vacuum
  • Orvus W.A. Paste
  • Clean tub (large enough to submerge needlepoint)
  • Board
  • Wax paper
  • Push pins
  • Towel

Steps to Clean the Needlepoint:

  1. Remove the needlepoint from the frame. If the edges of the needlepoint are trimmed, you may need to secure them against unraveling with Seams Great.
  2. Use the upholstery brush attachment to remove loose dust and debris from the needlepoint. If the suction on your machine is too strong, secure a thin cloth such as an old t-shirt over the end to reduce it.
  3. Put just enough warm water in the bottom of the tub to dissolve one cup of Orvus W.A. Paste.
  4. Add cool water until the water is about two inches deep.
  5. Carefully submerge the needlepoint.
  6. Rub gently with your fingertips. Be sure to get each side twice.
  7. If the water turns dark, remove the needlepoint, dump the cleaning solution out, and repeat the previous steps. Continue to do so until the water remains reasonably clean.
  8. Rinse thoroughly from both sides until no traces of the soap are visible.
  9. Roll the clean canvas up in a towel and press lightly to remove excess water. Do not twist or wring out the piece.
  10. Before the piece dries, “block” it by stretching it over a board lined with wax paper. Pin the canvas to the board in several places, ensuring it is straight to help it retain the proper shape as it dries.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If the color “bleeds”, do NOT allow the canvas to dry. Continue rinsing and soaking it until all of the bleed has washed out. This may take several days of soaking, but allowing it to dry will set the colors.
  • If needlepoint cannot be removed from upholstery, fill a spray bottle with the cleaning solution of dissolved Orvus W.A. Paste and cool water. Vacuum the area to be cleaned, then spray the needlepoint with the cleaner. Pat with a clean towel and repeat until clean. Do not soak the furniture. If the surface gets too wet, wait for it to dry before continuing.
  • If spots are left, a clean, white cloth wet with lighter fluid can improve the appearance. Spot test in a hidden area first.

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