Sharon asked: How do I clean felt? I have a beaded and sequined felt Christmas tree skirt that has become stained. My great grandmother made it for my mother by hand. I can’t let it stay dirty or let it get damaged. Help. I have a GE Profile washer with a hand wash cycle, but I’m afraid to do that. My aunt ruined her skirt in a regular washer.
If you have a felt piece that has been embellished with sequins, ribbon, lace, appliqué, or other decorative accents, extra caution should be taken when cleaning. Fortunately, whether you’re dealing with basic dirt and dust or oily stains, these simple methods will freshen up your fabric in no time. As with any cleaning project, make sure you spot test a hidden location for color fastness before you begin.
You Will Need:
- Clean, white cloth
- Mild dish detergent (ex: Dawn)
- Baby powder (for stubborn, oil-based stains)
Steps to Clean the Embellished Piece:
- Before cleaning, examine the piece for any weak areas where stitching or embellishments may be coming loose. Mend as needed.
- Moisten the areas to be cleaned with water. Unless you are sure the felt is color fast and will not bleed, it’s best to start with water that is cool to cold in temperature. If you use hot water, spot test it first.
- Apply detergent to the toothbrush and gently “scrub” the soiled areas with short brush strokes or small circular motions.
- Wet the clean cloth and blot. Repeat until the detergent has been removed.
- Repeat until the stain is gone.
- Allow to air dry.
- If a stain remain, it may be oil based. Shake baby powder over the remaining stains and allow it to sit for several minutes before brushing away. If the baby powder gets “dirty” while sitting on the felt, repeat the process until the powder stays clean.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Avoid soaking felt. As it dries, saturated areas may become misshapen and unsightly. Likewise, only moisten areas that need to be cleaned if possible.
- Be extra careful with hot water. It’s more likely to cause colors to run, both on your felt and on the decorative accents.
- If you’re having trouble getting the soap out, use a spray bottle (available from most discount or dollar stores) and squirt the fabric with clean water using the jet setting. This will shoot sharp streams of water through the fabric to remove the soap. Immediately blot away as much of the moisture as you can. Laying the piece on top of a towel will help absorb the water going through the fabric.
- To remove excess baby powder that you can’t brush off, repeat steps 1-5.
- If the felt is dusty, it’s a good idea to remove as much of the dust as possible before you get it wet. If you don’t, it may turn into muck. Use a soft brush, or use the vacuum hose attachment. To protect your embellishments, cover the end of the hose with old pantyhose to act as a filter. This will also help to remove baby powder.
- When in doubt, wipe or blot any décor with a clean white cloth or a sponge that has been moistened with clean, cool water.
- Allow the felt and any embellishments to air dry completely before storing.
The method presented here saved my family’s 50+ year old Christmas table runner. Everything in the article can be trusted, as I ended up having to use both the detergent and the baby powder. The runner is made of red felt with many sequins etc.
Thanks for the accurate information – very helpful!