I wasn't sure if this belonged here or at lifehacks, but due to the nature of the problem this stackexchange seemed the better choice. I ordered a plain piece of clothing, a poncho, online with the intention of adding my own design to it, but they sent me the wrong item. They let me keep it and just gave me a refund because the correct item is no longer in stock. That would be all well and good except I'm having trouble working with what I got. I needed a plain item but the one I was sent has a ton of rhinestones all along the edge of the garment. The rhinestone border is roughly 10 centimeters thick, goes all the way around the edge of the garment and the rhinestones are each about 2 millimeters wide with about 3 millimeters of space between them. They're shiny, but seem to be made of plastic with a metallic-looking coating as opposed to being actual metal.

I've tried some of the methods I've seen online to remove them: sticking the garment in the freezer overnight, applying soap and water and roughly rubbing them together and using a steam iron. Freezing did absolutely nothing. It didn't even loosen them. The soap and water worked better, but it only managed to remove a tiny area very slowly. Just plucking them works but it's even slower. But I don't want to resort to acetone or glue removers because the harsh chemicals may damage the garment and then I still couldn't use it. With the sheer number of these things I need to get rid of there has to be a better way because otherwise this is going to take ages.

So, is there a quick, easy way to remove these rhinestones without damaging the garment so I can get on with my project?

  • Rhinestones (crystals) or studs (metallic)? The latter are likely attached with a very different method than the former, and from your descriptions, I suspect you've mixed them up. Can you add some photos?
    – Allison C
    Jun 6, 2023 at 22:17
  • @AllisonC I'm honestly not quite sure. As I mentioned, they look metallic, but they aren't metal. They seem to be some sort of plastic with a coating to make them look metallic, but they're so tiny I can't tell if they're clear with a metallic layer on the back or just completed coated. They look to be faceted like a rhinestone too. And they are attached with some sort of glue, not pronged. They aren't just sequins either.
    – Demon
    Jun 6, 2023 at 22:24
  • Do you know what sort of fabric the garment is made from? That will affect what solvents and how much heat could be used
    – Chris H
    Jun 7, 2023 at 5:50
  • @ChrisH I know what fabric the item I ordered was supposed to be, but the one I got isn't the same fabric and I have no information on it. It's a fairly thick soft fabric and the edges don't seem to fray, but it isn't fleece.
    – Demon
    Jun 7, 2023 at 9:31
  • That's a shame, but probably synthetic fibre of some sort
    – Chris H
    Jun 7, 2023 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


The rhinestones are most probably the "hotfix" kind, meaning they are coated with a thin layer of hotmelt glue on the backside. Most of the time this glue doesn't permeat the fabric but only catches the topmost layer of fibers. That's why they tend to fall off after some washing cycles.

The first thing I would try is to soak the bottom hem in boiling water and scraping the stones off with some long and sturdy implements like serving spoons or knifes or strips of wood. Please be careful not to burn yourself!

If that doesn't work, you can try melting the glue with a hot iron. The usual temperature for applying these stones is about 330°F or 120°C, which should be a mid-range or "synthetics" setting on your iron. Secure your iron upside down (hot surface facing up), cover it with a clean cotton fabric and put the poncho on top of that. After heating an area for 20 seconds, try scraping the stones off with a spoon or backside of a knife.

If that doesn't help either, I'm afraid manual removal is the best option. Maybe rub two areas against each other so the stones dislodge each other? Or chuck it in a dryer together with some rubber balls. In the end you'll still have to pick individual stones from the poncho, but hopefully not every single one.

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