How to Clean an Embroidery Hoop

In watching various YouTube videos, I’ve seen some pretty nasty looking hoops due to adhesive build-up collecting dust, lint, and other crud. 
I’ve managed to avoid this scenario for the most part since I don’t spray into my hoops and seldom stick adhesive stabilizers directly to my normal hoops. I do use duct tape on my hoops from time to time and that seldom leaves a residue behind if removed promptly and as long as the hoop was clean to begin with.
Sticky residue on the hoop can pick up lint, dust, and grime and could leave some of that behind on your project.
If your hoops are still pristine, you can keep them way by never spraying into the hoop and using sticky stabilizers properly.

An Ounce of Prevention:

Instead of using a temporary embroidery spray adhesive, opt for a sticky stabilizer.
If you do need to apply spray after hooping, use some sort of hoop guard or mask. You can make a frame from a leftover piece of stabilizer or fabric that just leaves the interior work area exposed. This way the spray is only applied in the exposed area.
I’ve seen some embroiderers wrap their hoops with foil to protect their hoops but a piece of fabric is faster, easier, reusable, and more cost effective.

Instead of This:

When using an adhesive spray, alway spray into a protected area, such as a box. 

If you spray the stabilizer like this, you will also be spraying your hoop. Most temporary adhesives will dissipate within a few days from the fabric but not from the plastic hoop.

Adhesive can build up and collect gunk. Cleaning it off can take more time than protecting your hoop before spraying.

Do This:

You can protect your hoop by creating a “mask.” Here I’ve cut a “window” into a piece of fabric to focus the spray only onto the exposed stabilizer. Make sure the mask is large enough to cover the entire hoop.

When the fabric shield gets too nasty, just throw it out. 

TIP: KK2000 can be removed from fabric with a hot dry iron


There are after-market products you can buy to protect your hoop. One such product is the Hoop Shield.

Spray Alternatives

Two alternatives to using a spray in the hoop are glue stick and double-stick embroidery tape. Choose a wash-out glue stick. Glue sticks are faster but embroidery tape can hold more securely.
Also, when using sticky stabilizers with standard hoops, hoop the stabilizer between the rings, score around the inside edge of the hoop with a pin, and then peel the paper away to reveal the adhesive.
RNK Stitch Perfection Tape (Double Stick Embroidery Tape)

Specialty Hoops

There are specialty hoops for working with sticky stabilizers that are a one-piece metal frame.

With these, you simply peel off the protective sheet on the sticky stabilizer and smooth it into place on the bottom of the hoop. At some point, you may need to clean off the build up.

I have this one from DIME for my Brother and it’s very convenient. It’s fast and easy to use.

A Pound of Cure:

A quick internet search turns up all sorts of tips for cleaning gunky hoops. I’ve even seen recommendations for peanut butter and a trip through the dishwasher. 
It’s better to clean your hoop as soon as it starts to become sticky. The dirtier it becomes, the more work it will take to clean and you may have to expend quite a bit of elbow grease scraping. If your hoop requires scraping, take care not to use anything that could leave nicks or gouges behind.
Some cleaning products can leave an oily residue behind. Be sure to clean this off with soap and water.
Often the same products and techniques you use for removing labels off jars will work on cleaning built-up adhesives and sticky backings off your hoop.
When choosing a cleaning product, make sure it won’t damage your hoops. Most hoops these days are plastic but some commercial machines may have wooden hoops and the products listed below may damage wood.

How to Clean:

  1. White Vinegar: Use a shallow container large enough to hold your hoop and fill it with enough white vinegar to cover the entire hoop. Let them soak for 15 minutes or longer. Heating up the vinegar in the microwave or on the stove can help with tough buildup. You may need to work layers off in steps and then let the hoop(s) soak a bit longer. 
  2. Blue Dawn: Use a shallow container large enough to hold your hoop and add hot water with a generous squirt of Blue Dawn dish detergent. Follow the same steps as with the white vinegar, soaking the hoops in the sudsy water.
  3. Goo Gone Sticker Lifter or Turtle Wax Label & Sticker Remover: Simply apply the product with a rag or paper towel and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then use a scraper. Goo Gone comes with a plastic scraper that shouldn’t cause any damage. Make sure to clean your hoop with soap and water before using it.
  4. WD40: Soak the hoops in WD40 and let sit for 30 minutes or so. Then, just wipe the hoop off clean. Make sure no residue remains.
  5. Oven Spray cleaner: Simply spray it on, let it sit 5-10 seconds, then wipe off the gunk.
  6. Rubbing alcohol: I use this more for spot cleaning. I always have a stack of packaged wipes near my machine to clean gunked up needles (just stitch through the little packet). A more cost effective method for hoops is bottled rubbing alcohol and a cloth.
  7. Baby Wipes: If you keep a stash of these on hand, you can wipe off your hoop as you go. I haven’t personally tried these on my hoops but I do use them on my Scan n Cut mats and they work well.
  8. Baking Soda: Another option is to soak the hoop in a bath of warm water and baking soda. You can also make a scrub by adding enough water to some baking soda to form a paste and then use with an old toothbrush to get into any grooves. 
  9. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser: These foam scrubbers are non-abrasive and are useful for cleaning the bottom of your iron and cutting mat in addition to your hoop.
Embroidery hoops are precision devices and can be expensive to replace. Take care of them and they will serve you well.



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