How to Wash Holiday Stockings and Other Fabric Decorations

How to Wash Holiday Stockings and Other Fabric Decorations
Photo: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Maybe you’re the type of person who, at the end of each holiday season, washes all the stockings and other festive fabric decorations before putting them in a carefully sealed container, so everything’s ready-to-go the following year.

Or maybe by the time the first week of January (or whenever you take your decorations down) rolls around, you’re so exhausted and sick of looking at the stuff, that you throw the stockings, tree skirt, and pillows in a box and toss it in the attic.

If you’re in that second category, you may be retrieving those boxes of holiday decorations now, and noticing that they’re a little dusty or dingy-looking. But won’t worry — most (if not all) of it can be washed. In an article for The Spruce, Mary Marlowe Leverette walks us through how to do that. Here’s what to know.

How to wash holiday stockings

Stockings come in a variety of materials, so Leverette breaks it down by fabric:

  • 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 fibres and a soft brush to leave them silky smooth.
  • Needlepoint: Needlepoint stockings are beautiful and took someone a very long time to create. To brighten the colours, give them a good vacuuming with the upholstery brush. If they are stained, take them to a professional dry cleaner.
  • Cross-Stitch: 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 colour bleeding. Rinse well and dry flat.

Christmas tree skirts

Ideally, you want to spot-treat any stains on your Christmas tree skirt — the most common of which are dirt/dust, tree sap, animal urine, and water spots, Leverette says — right away. But if that didn’t happen, gently scrape off any solid/hardened stains (like candle wax) with the edge of a dull kitchen knife. After that, saturate the stain using cool water from a spray bottle, and then blot with a clean white cloth, she explains. And as tempting as it may be, don’t scrub the stain (it can harm the fabric).

Once that’s done, if the fabric is washable, go ahead and wash it according to its instructions. If it’s covered in beads, appliques, sequins, or anything like that, Leverette recommends taking it to the dry cleaner.

Holiday throws, blankets, and pillows

For most of these, you can simply follow the cleaning instructions on the label — whether that’s hand-washing, popping them in the machine, or dry-cleaning them. Check throw pillows to see if they have a removable cover, and if so, follow their directions.

If you have decorative pillows that are embroidered or embellished and don’t have a removable cover, Leverette recommends refreshing them by placing them in a mesh bag in the dryer on a cool setting.

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