If we were to really look at the way our clothing is made, we would see all the seams that were sewn with thread to keep the pieces of fabric together. This is the basic way fabric is made, regardless of what thread or stitch was used, whether it was hand-sewn or machine-sewn.
What if your fabric develops a small hole, though? Or what if you want to add on tiny beads as embellishment and can’t quite get the hang of sewing them on?
This is when fabric glue comes in handy. If you need a quick fix or easy embellishment application, fabric glue can be your best friend. But as some people have found out the hard way, fabric glue doesn’t always last long and can sometimes be dissolved with a simple wash.
So, is fabric glue washable? Yes, fabric glue can be machine washable if you have purchased permanent fabric glue. If you use nonpermanent fabric glue, it is a temporary hold and will not stand up in the wash. Be sure to wash on the gentle cycle and leave to air dry.
If you’re hoping to use fabric glue with any small clothing repairs but are worried it may not hold, keep reading. We’ll give you all the details you need to wash your fabric glue safely.
Types Of Fabric Glue
Before we dive into the types of glue, if finding washable glue is your goal, we have a whole other article dedicated to the best washable fabric glues available to buy.
Although one of the best types of fabric glue is the liquid form, fabric glue is also available as a stick-on or spray-on adhesive. The spray-on adhesive gives you a great advantage of covering more surface area with a more even, light coating of glue, rather than the single thick line of liquid glue.
When repairing a hole, the liquid glue is probably best. You can apply a small amount of liquid glue on one side of the hole, then press the two pieces of fabric together. Liquid glue gives you the kind of control that spray-on adhesive doesn’t have.
Stick fabric glue can be useful depending on the fabric, but may be difficult to work with as it will pick the fabric up with it instead of allowing you to place the adhesive down while the fabric lays flat.
Non-Permanent Fabric Glue
Some people may see nonpermanent fabric glue and think, what’s the point? Why have glue that’s only meant for single-use and washes out the second you throw the fabric in the washing machine?
Nonpermanent fabric glue is a great option to hold two pieces of difficult fabric together while sewing, rather than using pins. It’s perfect for fabrics like silk, which tend to slide out of place while sewing.
In the costume world of theatre, it can also be great help for a quick backstage fix. If an actor rips a hole in their costume onstage, the wardrobe master can simply add some nonpermanent glue to repair the damage until the show is done and they have time to sew it back together.
Even though it can’t be used for long-term projects, nonpermanent fabric glue certainly has its place in any seamstress’ tool box.
Permanent Fabric Glue
If you’re hoping to use glue as a more long-term tool with your fabric, permanent fabric glue is the one you want to choose.
Permanent fabric glue is intended for more long-term repairs or embellishments, so it’s designed to withstand several washes. Most of them will specifically say “machine washable” on the label.
Keep in mind, though, that even permanent fabric glue will wear down over time. Although the name is “permanent” fabric glue, it is not a realistic permanent solution. Sewing is the best way of keeping fabric together or adding embellishments onto fabric.
Uses For Fabric Glue
We’ve mentioned fabric glue is useful for fixing small holes or adding beads to fabric, but what else can fabric glue be used for?
Fabric glue is useful not just for holes or tears in the fabric, but to fix loose ends as well. Everyone has had that thread hanging off the bottom of their shirt, and they pull and pull until it’s broken off, but now half your hem is loose.
To fix that hem, apply a little fabric glue on the inside of the hem and press it shut. This is a quick and easy fix, especially for those who don’t know how to sew or simply don’t have the time.
Fabric glue can also be used to prevent fraying ends on fragile fabric, or to add other embellishments aside from beads. You can use fabric glue to add sequins, or small bits of lace.
Spray-on fabric glue is great for those wanting to add some glitter to their clothing.
How To Properly Wash Clothes With Fabric Glue
The first rule of washing clothes that have had fabric glue applied is to ensure you’ve given the fabric glue enough time to fully dry and set.
Each fabric glue is different, and the drying times will depend on the type of fabric glue (spray-on, liquid, stick) and the brand you’ve purchased.
Because each glue is different, make sure you’ve read the label instructions thoroughly. Keep an eye out for the words “machine washable” to make sure it’s a good choice.
Some labels say that the glue only needs a few hours to set, but you should still wait 7 days to wash. Pay special attention to the exact timeline not just for drying, but for washing the fabric.
For best results to keep your fabric glue intact longer, wash your clothes on the gentle cycle and let them air dry. This will prevent the fabric from being stretched, pulled, or agitated too much by a normal wash cycle or run through the dryer.
How Long Does Fabric Glue Last?
Although labeled as “permanent” fabric glue, realistically it will not last forever. With each wash, the glue’s bond breaks down just a tiny bit.
The term “permanent” when used with fabric glue indicates that the glue is non-water-soluble, meaning it won’t dissolve in water. But just because it won’t break down from one wash, doesn’t mean it won’t break down over time.
A lot of factors can affect how long your fabric glue will last. It depends on how you wash it, what fabric it’s been applied to, and how much or how little was applied.
For instance, a small 1-inch hole that’s been repaired with fabric glue on a cotton shirt and washed on gentle should last quite a while. It will last even longer if not worn and washed frequently.
With a long 10-inch tear in spandex repaired with fabric glue and washed on normal, it will likely wear much quicker and be torn open again.
If you anticipate that you will be washing the clothing item frequently, it could be a good idea to find a fabric glue that’s labeled as “super” or “industrial” strength. Make sure it still says “machine washable” on the label before purchasing.
The most important thing to remember is that even though permanent fabric glue is labeled as permanent, it won’t last forever. Use fabric glue as temporary repair or to add temporary embellishments, such as adding sequins to a Christmas party sweater.
Fabric Glue Alternatives
Now that you know fabric glue is not a long-term solution, what can you do to repair clothing?
The best alternative to fabric glue is traditional sewing. This is the method where fabric is put together to become a piece of clothing in the first place, and it’s the best way to repair it.
For small holes or tears, we recommend hand-sewing the hole shut. Remember to turn the garment inside-out first, pin the two sides of the hole or tear together, and do a simple running stitch.
In the case of large holes and tears, or a ripped hem, we recommend machine sewing. This may not be possible for everyone as most people don’t have their own sewing machine, but it’s the best solution.
If you don’t own a sewing machine, consider taking the garment to a local friend or family member who does own one, or even to a dry cleaning business. Often times, dry cleaners will have a seamstress on staff for clothing repairs.
Another alternative to fabric glue is called fusible webbing. This is a thin layer of webbing placed between two pieces of fabric. Once the webbing is in place, you iron the layers of clothes together with the webbing in between them. The heat melts the webbing and binds the fabric together.
Fusible webbing can be easily found at any craft store in the fabric and sewing section. It’s a common tool for people who sew and easy for anyone unfamiliar with sewing to pick up and apply.
Most often, fusible webbing is used to create a hem without having any visible stitching. This can be particularly helpful for those who are not skilled in sewing and afraid of creating a hem that isn’t a straight line, which is then visible to everyone who sees the garment.
Up Next: How Strong Is Fabric Glue?