The 5 Best Glues For Rhinestones On Fabric

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Rhinestones can add DIY sparkle to any piece of clothing or accessory, but you’ll need a good glue to securely attach those jewels to fabric. The best glue for rhinestones on fabric dry clear and flexible and work with your preferred type of fabric. Glue permanence, application, drying time, and ability to go in the washing machine can be other factors to review, so think about what makes the most sense for your project before you pick a glue.

When choosing a fabric glue for attaching rhinestones, you’ll want something that dries clear in case you end up with an excess of glue around a rhinestone or you make a mistake — after all, a white rim or residue might not be the look you’re going for. Next, you’ll want to keep an eye on water resistance. If you’re gluing rhinestones on a piece of clothing, costume piece, hat, or shoes, you’ll want to be able to sweat or throw them in the washing machine or at least be able to hand wash without worrying about exposure to water. In this instance, you’ll want a permanent glue for a strong bond. Some glues can even withstand the heat of the dryer (an extra bonus), and one glue on this list even claims to get stronger in the dryer. If you’re working on a temporary project, or would like to remove the rhinestones at some point, a non-permanent glue is another option.

Any fabric you’re working with will need a glue that’s formulated to remain semi-flexible when dry and will move with the fabric. However, not all fabrics move the same way, so the right glue for your project will also depend on the kind of fabric you’re working with. Fabrics that stretch (like cotton, knits, spandex, nylon, mesh, or anything with a light weave) need a glue that won’t bleed through the surface. For fabrics with a leather or suede finish, or more heavy-duty fabrics like denim, canvas, wool, flannel, fleece, corduroy, or felt, you’ll need a thicker glue that will hold to the thicker surface. Look for the glue that’s best for your specific project and fabric — and be sure to check that it’s recommended by the manufacturer for your fabric and do a spot check before committing, since some glues can discolor some fabrics.

Whichever type of glue you choose, most come with an applicator tip that helps you place the glue on the rhinestones or a specific area of fabric. Some tips can be cut to your exact needs, while others are larger (great for bigger rhinestones), and some feature a needle tip for precise application of smaller jewels. After the glue has been applied, some can take minutes or even seconds to set and dry, while others might take hours. Each glue has different drying and curing times – drying time is the amount of time it takes for the glue to no longer be wet and curing time refers to how long it takes the adhesive to reach its full strength – so check the packaging to ensure things will dry and cure at a speed that works for you. Finally, if you’d rather skip gluing altogether, opt for self-adhesive rhinestones, which can be applied quickly, albeit not as securely, or pre-glued rhinestones which use a heated applicator wand to adhere the jewels to fabric.

Whether you’re attaching a few rhinestones or all the rhinestones, you’ll need the right kind of adhesive. Take a look at some of the best glues on Amazon for attaching rhinestones to any kind of fabric.

1. A Glue For Rhinestones On Stretchy Fabrics

  • Dry time: 8 hours
  • Cure time: 72 hours

According to the brand and reviewers alike, this E6000 glue is perfect for attaching rhinestones to a fabric that moves and stretches (like cotton, knits, spandex, nylon, mesh, or anything with a light weave). It has a fairly precise applicator tip that allows you to “very easily put the tiniest dots of glue straight from bottle,” as one reviewer explained. It takes 8 hours to dry and 72 hours to cure completely, so you have some time to reposition rhinestones if they aren’t exactly where they should be. The glue dries clear while remaining flexible, and once it’s fully cured, it’s both permanent and waterproof, so it’s safe to throw your rhinestone-adorned fabric in the washing machine or even take it to the dry cleaner. The brand doesn’t specify whether the glue can withstand a dryer cycle — multiple reviewers have reported some success using a dryer, but to be extra safe, you might want to let your creations air dry.

Helpful Amazon review: “Ever since I found out about this stuff its the only thing I use to stone dresses, gowns, shirts, anything fabric. Its great because it has a small tip, it dries fairly quickly, has a very low odor (if you ever use the regular E6000 shew that stuff smells) and when this dries it stretches with the fabric. Best stuff ever! Comes in a 4oz bottle thats really lasts along time. Perfect for rhinestones that are not hot fix backed or if you don't want to iron them on.”

2. A Glue For Rhinestones That Gets Stronger In The Dryer

  • Dry time: 1 hour
  • Cure time: 24 hours

When you have fabric you’d also like to safely toss in the dryer, look no further than this permanent adhesive from Beacon. According to the brand, the glue actually gets stronger when exposed to heat from the dryer – not that you have to put it in the dryer to make it more secure, it’s just a nice feature. Gem-Tac has a lot of nice features, actually — it’s non-toxic, dries clear, has a permanent hold, and remains flexible (so it’s good for lighter-weight or looser weave fabrics, though multiple reviewers suggested that they successfully used it on heavier ones, too). There’s a precision tip cap for easy application, and the glue takes one hour to dry and 24 hours to cure. It’s so great for gluing stones to fabric that one reviewer wrote, “I make costumes for a living and this is what I use,” while another admitted that they’ve used it to “rhinestone just about everything.”

Helpful Amazon review:“I loved it. I brought it to but rhinestones on a dress for a family function. First time ever using it and it turned out great. No mess or problems!”

3. A Quick-Setting Glue For Rhinestones On Heavy-Duty Fabrics

  • Dry time: About 2 seconds
  • Cure time: 24 hours

Durable fabrics need a durable adhesive, and this is where the Gorilla Fabric Glue comes in. Recommended for denim, canvas, wool, cotton, flannel, fleece, felt, corduroy, and polyester, it’s a thicker glue that’s designed for less stretchy fabrics with a tighter weave. You’ll need to work fast, as the adhesive sets in seconds (it dries clear!), but after a 24-hour cure, the glue will have a permanent hold. After that, you’ll want to wait at least 72 hours before you wash or iron it, though it’s machine washable and safe to iron or machine dry. It’s worth noting that multiple reviewers report that the glue is a bit tough to squeeze from the tube but comes out pretty quickly once you get it started, so take care when you apply — and know that if you want really precise application for really small rhinestones, this might not be the best choice. Choose from packs of one or three.

Helpful Amazon review: “This worked great to apply some rhinestone appliques to a canvas bag. I used a natural colored bag and there was no obvious bleed through on the other side and after 24 hours, everything was bonded tightly.”

4. A Non-Permanent Glue For Detailed Rhinestone Application

  • Dry time: 1 hour
  • Cure time: 24 hours

You don’t always need a permanent glue, so for times when you’d like to go back, change your work, or return clothing to its original condition, consider G-S Hypo Cement, a medium-strength adhesive that’s non-toxic, waterproof, and can be removed with rubbing alcohol or with nail polish remover. It sets in about 10 minutes, dries clear in about an hour, and takes about 24 hours to cure. There’s a needle tip for precise application, which one reviewer referred to as offering “surgical precision.” Reviewers do advise that getting the cap on the needle tip when you’re done might take some practice (or glasses) because it is so thin. Also, the manufacturer doesn’t mention whether you can wash fabric that you’ve used the Hypo Cement on, so you might want to avoid washing, just to be safe.

Helpful Amazon review: “Fine applicator tip allows great accuracy when working with tiny stones. Also very durable.”

5. A Glue For Rhinestones On Leather and Suede

  • Dry time: depends on how much glue is applied
  • Cure time: 24 hours

For a strong, flexible hold between your rhinestones and leather or suede without discoloring the material, you’ll want a glue that’s designed to work on leather and suede. This non-toxic Aleene’s glue remains flexible with the materials, dries clear, and Aleene’s promises that it won’t stain the fabric. Your rhinestones will be held with a permanent bond, but it’s not washable and the brand suggests dry cleaning if you want to wash your leather. The drying time varies depending on how much glue is applied, and the curing time is 24 hours. The tip is customizable with scissors, so you can cut off the top ridge indicator for a more precise glue flow, or the bottom ridge for a thicker, steadier glue stream. The hold it provides is so strong that one reviewer referred to the bond as “science magic.”

Helpful Amazon review: “Works well! I used it to glue rhinestones to leather and it worked perfectly and dried clear.”

Also Nice: Hotfix Rhinestones

Another way to attach your rhinestones to fabric (without gluing), is with hotfix rhinestones like the ones in this set from Worthofbest which includes everything to get you all set up. It comes with a massive variety of rhinestones in various colors and sizes, a wire brush, tweezers, a wax gem picker, an applicator pen, applicator tips, a metal stand, a zip bag for storage, and a manual. Simply place the rhinestones, heat them with the applicator for 15 seconds each, and the jewels will harden on fabric within 24 hours of application. You can only use the heated applicator pen with hotfix rhinestones, though. You can wash fabric that you’ve adhered hotfix stones to, but if you’re going to use the washing machine, opt for a delicate cycle and skip the dryer. In terms of placement, the brand promises that you can apply the stones to clothes, denim, jeans, leather, and shoes.

Helpful Amazon review: “I'm so happy I purchased this hotfix rhinestone applicator with all that comes with it. It makes blinging out my designs so easy. It's great for those awkward places to apply rhinestones because the applicator cones with multiple size heating attachments. It heats up quickly. The assortment of rhinestones that came with it is great. This is definitely a must have for my fellow crafters.”

Also Nice: Self-Adhesive Rhinestones

Give your projects just the right amount of pop with these self-adhesive rhinestones. There are a lot of options among the 365 stickers, with a mix of colors, shapes, and sizes. These aren’t meant to hold up in the long term or in the laundry, but they’re easy to apply and remove without leaving a residue. Multiple reviewers mentioned how vivid and shiny the rhinestones looked, with a few suggesting that you can add glue to the adhesive bottoms if you’d like to stick them to fabric more permanently.

Helpful Amazon review: “They sparkle like glass & stick to any surface! The colors are vivid & stunning! Various sizes & shapes to choose from [...] I have purchased these 2 times & will be ordering more! I get tons of compliments on the many ways I use them to create my own unique style! They are multi- functional little [gems]”