How do you clean an expensive embroidery chair delicately?


I got flooded in Hurricane Harvey. I only have one piece of furniture I'm emotionally attached to, and it is very special to me. Unfortunatly, it got a little flood waters on the lower edge of the bottom ONLY, but the seat cushion was removed. Again, the back, arms and seat cushion did not get flood water...only a small piece of embroidery in the front that the seat cushion sets on.

This was an expensive Queen Ann type chair that had high-end embroidery outdoor scene on the seat back, wings, arms and down seat cushion.The back velvet part had to be torn out due to wicking of water into the cotton batting and to let it dry. I salvaged the seat cusion and had it cleaned. Looks great. The chair was sent to the furniture refinishing guy. I left it with other furniture, while I decided what color of backing to buy. Unfortunately, when I picked-up some other furniture, I saw the chair was not covered and now was full of dust. The beautiful chair is now grey with engrained dust....while the seat cushion is stunningly beautiful greens, dark teal, peach and yellow.

I don't know what to do, or how to clean it without damaging the embroidery. I've tried vaccuuming it, but it is not enough. HELP!! This was my Centerpiece furniture, the one piece I ALWAYS decorated the room around. And now I'm scared to take it to another furniture repair place.

I need help and suggestions that won't damage the embroidery while getting the dust out and bring the color back.

  10 answers
  • Gk Gk on Mar 08, 2020

    Maybe you can take your chair to a drycleaner. They are experts at getting stains out of delicate materials without ruining them.

    • Cardinal Cardinal on Mar 09, 2020

      Thanks but I don't think they are accustomed to cleaning or being around delicate fine furniture and I'm not too keen in giving it to someone else who has no experience with furniture this delicate.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Mar 08, 2020

    I think I might start with a blow dryer on cool only, to work some loose. Then with some soft makeup brushes that have never been used (you could buy several at the dollar store.) Brush from top to bottom, I would carefully brush off the dust. Cover the seat while you're working above it. Look at it from above and below to make sure you haven't missed any. This is going to be a delicate, time consuming project, so please don't get discouraged. I can tell from your question, how much you love this chair. Get it as clean as you can, and see how it looks. If you aren't happy with it, I would suggest speaking to an expert at a museum. They deal with very delicate materials and could not only share a wealth of information, but may be able to refer you to a specialist in cleaning delicate fabric. Good luck! I'm sorry for your troubles.

    • See 1 previous
    • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Mar 09, 2020

      I hope it helps. Consider doing a post on how you save it. I for one, would be very interested!

  • on Mar 08, 2020

    Can you take it to a trusted local dry cleaner?

  • Betsy Betsy on Mar 08, 2020

    Hi Cardinal: I'd talk to the guy who did the cleaning and tell him what happened. Perhaps, if it was his fault, he will fix it. If it wasn't his fault, maybe he will fix it cheaply for you. If that's not an option, then check this site. It has some stuff at the beginning that you probably don't need, but a little way down there are ideas on how to clean your furniture. Good luck

  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 08, 2020

    Cleaning and Preserving Vintage Needlework and Cross Stitch

  • Dee Dee on Mar 08, 2020

    If you have a shop vac that is stronger than a regular vacuum cleaner. I would get a paint brush and brush the chair really well. then use the shop vac to see if it will do the job.

    • See 1 previous
    • Dee Dee on Mar 09, 2020

      I would think a shop vac is stronger. I have used the vacs at the car wash and some barely have suction.

  • This is how to clean a needlepoint wall hanging, perhaps you could use the same technique on your chair?

    • Cardinal Cardinal on Mar 09, 2020

      Thanks Carrie. I had not thought about checking YouTube. But rinsing the Woolite out if the chair isn't possible as part of it still has stuffing in it.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 09, 2020

    Hello Cardinal,

    Do you have household contents insurance? Maybe a claim! Take it to a specialist who deals with old embroideries etc. Ask at a Museum if they can recommend someone. Or maybe Steam cleaning will do it? Best wishes. If you really love it and you Very Best Wishes.....................

    • Cardinal Cardinal on Mar 09, 2020

      Thank you. has always been the most beutiful chairs I've EVER seen in my entire life and have always been so proud to own it. It was a gift from a surgeon 40+ years ago.

  • Pamela Pamela on Mar 09, 2020

    Hi ! You can try a carpet cleaner , that is good for upholstery , as well! , called

    Folex . It works on all types of stains and removes them . There are no harsh chemicals , only soaps . But because you said this is dust ...are you sure it's dust , could it be over spray ? I would contact a needlepoint supply store and ask them what the best way to clean it is . Good luck !!!!

    • See 1 previous
    • Cardinal Cardinal on Mar 09, 2020

      Thank goodness it isn't over-spray! The wood is clean without evidence of it.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Mar 13, 2020

    Have you tried vacuuming the chair to get it clean