You should wash your aida BEFORE you use it

I’m a big believer in washing my cross stitch after I’m finished, and whilst I know there are people out there that don’t wash their cross stitch, I recently started washing my aida before I cross stitch.
I know this initially sounds crazy, however there is a method to my madness, and washing your aida (or any fabric) before you start your cross stitch has one major benefit.

Why you should you wash it?

I short, dyes. Unlike problems with thread dye lot issues, this is a dye problem that goes under the eyes of many of us cross stitchers. In fact, it took a decade before I actually started to think about what was happening.
When you wash your fabric, the dye leaks out. And I don’t just mean a bit of leakage, I mean loads. And its not just black aida that has this either. We tested all of the best cross stitch aida brands using an inch by inch square in a pint of cold water for 10 minutes.

Water samples from colored aida.
Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida
Water samples from 1 inch squared colored aida in a pint of cold water. 
Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida

This dye on its own might not seem that problematic considering it’s only a little bit, but our test was using a 1 inch by 1 inch square in a pint of water. If you scale this up, its like stitching a 12 by 12 inch bit of aida in a whole bath of water. I imagine there are only a few of us out there willing to use a whole bath of water to wash our cross stitch, even if you aren’t an eco cross stitcher.
This dye isn’t going to totally change the color of your threads, however it will take that shine off, leaving you with something with a little less pop. This can be a serious problem with cross stitches of bright colors on black aida like my recent Star Trek Enterprise LCARS cross stitch, but it’ll even have impacts on smaller projects too.

How to wash it

Now we have the “why” sorted out, the solution is simple, wash your aida. And we don’t mean you have to go fancy like how you wash your cross stitch. No, you can just chuck the whole thing in a bowl of water for half an hour. Rinse once your done (just to make sure none of the dye is left on the fabric and dry). You don’t have to iron, blot or stretch the fabric either, as the cross stitch frame or hoop will do the work for you.

Washing cross stitch (source:

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Elaine

    Wise advice! Another reason to wash your fabric before you start: this may not apply to aida, but I stitch mainly on linen and it can shrink.

    1. Ellen

      Do you wash in warm or cold water?

      1. LordLibidan

        Washing in cold will solve lots of issues with shrinking and bleeding. So I would always go cold, but warm is fine too (there’s just not advantage to washing in warm water).