How to clean a dirty embroidery hoop

By on March 10th, 2023
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Here’s how I knew I had a nasty, dirty embroidery hoop.  People started leaving comments on my blog posts (that were completely unrelated to the embroidery hoop), saying  “wow – your hoop is gross.”  So, after hearing that a few times , I thought, “maybe I should try to clean my dirty embroidery hoop.” But how?

While it may sounds simple, sometimes embroidery hoops can be hard to clean. So how do you do it? To find out – I went right to the pros and asked for some tips. Turns out there’s lots of ways to clean embroidery hoops. But even better yet – there are some clever strategies to keep them from getting dirty in the first place.

Why embroidery hoops get dirty

If you’re new to machine embroidery and have only done a few projects, you may be wondering how on earth an embroidery hoop could get so nasty.  

The culprit is temporary spray adhesive.  It is remarkably useful for securing fabric to stabilizer, but the downside is that it gets EVERYWHERE – especially on your embroidery hoop.

And when your hoop is sticky – every fuzz ball and piece of thread in your sewing room will start to glom on to it. Soon you have a nasty, gunky machine embroidery hoop, and it’s not pretty.

Fortunately there are some pretty ingenious ways to prevent your embroidery hoop from getting dirty.

Avoid temporary adhesive spray

Avoid using temporary adhesive and instead use adhesive-backed stabilizer. You simply hoop the stabilizer, score around the inside edge of the hoop with a pin, and then peel the paper away.  Then you stick your garment onto the stabilizer without using any spray.

Try a glue stick

Use a glue stick instead of temporary adhesive spray because you can better control where the stickiness goes. Just rub a bit of glue onto the hooped stabilizer and press your material or garment in place.

Create a mask

Create a mask.  (And not like a Halloween mask.) What I mean is – create a frame that covers the embroidery hoop of and leaves the hooped stabilizer exposed. This way, when you spray the hooped stabilizer, the sticky spray will not get on the hoop.

masking hoop to avoid getting spray on hoop

Get a hoop spray shield

You can actually buy embroidery hoop spray shields designed to fit your embroidery. They simply set into the hoop and keep spray from getting on the tops as well as the sides of the hoop. Once the spray shield gets dirty – you simply wash that.

icky sticky embroidery hoop spray shield

Use a magnetic hoop

Use a magnetic hoop.  If you use a magnetic hoop, you can secure your project in the hoop very securely without using any kind of adhesive.  A magnetic hoop is super strong. Watch out for your fingers though.  Getting your skin pinched in a magnetic hoop is not fun. 

Try pins

Pin it! If pins will not leave a permanent mark in your fabric, you can use pins to hold your fabric to a piece of hooped stabilizer. Just make sure that your pins are far away from your embroidery area. 

You still may need to clean your embroidery hoop

Despite taking these preventative measures, you still may end up with a super nasty hoop. For some types of projects, temporary adhesive spray can be very useful. So, the question remains… how do you clean your dirty embroidery hoop?

Back when I was new to machine embroidery and first encountered this problem, I sought counsel from the ladies at my embroidery store.  I, naively, thought my problem was unique. But, apparently they are are experts in cleaning up dirty hoops.

Used embroidery machines often come with very dirty embroidery hoops

You see, at my store, they sell both new and used sewing and embroidery machines.  And, when the used ones come in – some of the embroidery hoops are really gunky.  

Therefore, in order to get the hoops clean enough to resell the machines, the the store had to figure it out, and they began experimenting with several different methods of cleaning embroidery hoops.

From their experiments, my sewing ladies discovered a lot of methods for cleaning embroidery hoops. And they shared with me all of their interesting and unconventional methods. Their advice in conjunction with the advice from people in Facebook groups provided me with a whole lot of information.

You may have the perfect solution already

And the takeaway? I have learned that there are a lot of different ways to go about cleaning up a nasty embroidery hoops. And, since (as they say), there are several different ways to skin this cat, I would suggest using whatever product you have around the house.  Here are some of the products and methods they say works. 

Rubbing alcohol

Wipe the hoop down with rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol works great, but for a large hoop, it’s difficult to have a large enough container and a large enough volume of rubbing alcohol to sufficiently coat your embroidery hoop.

LA’s Totally Awesome

Dollar Tree, as well as other stores, sell a product called LA’s Totally Awesome.  And it’s actually totally awesome for cleaning your embroidery hoop.


Another surprising way to clean your embroidery hoop is to soak them in WD40 and let sit for 30 minutes or so. Then, just wipe the hoop off and all of the nasty junk will come off easily. 

Oven spray cleaner

Oven Spray cleaner will do the job too.  You spray it on, let it sit 5-10 seconds, then wipe off the gunk.


GooGone is also an awesome embroidery hoop cleaner. Again, spray, wait, then rub it all off.


Now this is weird. But, apparently mayonnaise works in a similar manner to the other cleaners.  Just rub it on, let it sit and wipe it away, and it will take away the fuzz and lint with it.

Baby Wipes

I personally don’t have baby wipes in my house, but at one time in my life, I certainly did.  If you do have baby wipes in your home, they can be a great tool for getting your embroidery hoop clean. 

Mr Clean Magic Eraser

I have to be honest – I didn’t know this product even existed.  Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is marketed as bathroom and shower cleaner. But, apparently, it does wonders on your embroidery hoop. 

Blue Dawn

And finally, my personal favorite for cleaning my embroidery hoop is soaking it in Blue Dawn. It does a remarkable job in  loosening the gunk on your embroidery hoop.  But don’t be mistaken, just because Blue Dawn works so well, you may assume any dishwashing soap will work just as well. But, I’ve found that other brands will not necessarily have the same effect.

The ladies at the sewing store actually tried several other brands of dishwashing detergent but reported that Dawn was the only one that worked.  You simply make up a big tub of sudsy Dawn, soak your hoops and get them as clean as if they were new.

Of course I had to try this myself. And, what I found is that – after a lot of soaking and a bit of scraping -my embroidery hoop looks pretty damn good as well!

Considerations for cleaning your embroidery hoop

I have recently learned that some embroidery hoops have electronic components and sensors embedded in them.  Therefore, it’s best not to soak this type of embroidery hoop in a solution.  My suggestion would be to be very cautious when using temporary adhesive spray around these hoops and use a mask or a spray shield.

If you do need to clean this type of a hoop, soak a cloth in your cleaning solution of choice (or use a cleaning wipe) and rub the cleaner around hoop, avoiding electronic components.  

Always be gentle when cleaning your embroidery hoop.  They can break, although they are probably more likely to break with some aggressive hooping as opposed to cleaning, but… you never know. 

Ready to start cleaning your embroidery hoop? 

While you may think it doesn’t matter what your hoop looks like, I find it to be much more pleasant to work with a clean hoop as opposed to one caked with lint.  In addition, dirty hoops get other projects and your hands and clothes dirty.  So, do your best to keep your embroidery hoops clean. With so many different ways to go about it, what’s your excuse? 

Happy stitching & hoop cleaning!



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How to get the gunk off of your embroidery hoop
how to clean an embroidery hoop

11 thoughts on “How to clean a dirty embroidery hoop

  1. Great ideas for cleaning an embroidery hoop, but my hoop has a chip embedded in it, so I don’t recommend soaking the hoop.

    1. Ah! Great point!!!!

  2. The ladies at my sewing shop where I purchased my machines said to soak in Dawn. I have not tried it yet.

  3. I recently was turned onto using hand sanitizer…cannot say that anything else I have used has worked as well…

    1. Wow – that is crazy! I will have to try it.

    2. Wow, just tried the hand sanitizer. Works great. Thanks to living in the virus times we have a couple gallons on hand. I put a super nasty 100×100 in a ziplock with the hand sanitizer. Now the spray & fuzz gunk is melting right off

  4. […] Machine Embroidery Geek tells us how to clean our embroidery hoops. […]

    1. Here in the land down under (Australia) we have a product called ‘Orange Oil’ – which is great. Found it for trying to remove my then teenager’s stickers off mirrors etc. now great for Embroidery hoop goo.
      (They smell good too)

      1. That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I wipe down my hoop(s) as soon as the design is stitched out and the fabric is removed; I haven’t had any problems with goop so far. Yeah, I’m phobic that way I guess.

    1. You are very disciplined. I’m impressed!

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