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How to Soften a Stiff T-shirt

How to Soften a Stiff T-shirt

May 18th 2023

A stiff T-shirt can be a real pain, lacking the flexibility and comfort of a well-worn tee. Whether the shirt is stiff from the way it was washed or just a lack of being worn, you can use a few DIY methods to quickly soften up a stiff T-shirt to make it more comfortable. From soaking it in various liquids to simply switching up your laundry routine, Greek Gear has the tips and tricks you need to soften a stiff T-shirt.

Wash and Dry Method

This one is as easy as it sounds. If you have a T-shirt that’s just too stiff, try sending it through the wash once or twice. A buildup of laundry products can cause fabrics to stiffen, so a good wash and dry is sometimes all it takes to release the fibers and soften up your favorite tee. 

Tips for Success: Add fabric softener to the wash and use dryer balls or a heavy towel in the dryer to help soften the T-shirt.

Vinegar Soak Method

For 100 percent cotton T-shirts or materials that are primarily cotton, vinegar is the ideal fabric softener. Because vinegar is mildly acidic, it readily dissolves alkaline soap residue that can build up on fabrics, leaving them softer and cleaner smelling. Simply use vinegar in place of fabric softener for a quick fix and softer tees.

Tips for Success: You can add distilled vinegar to the fabric softener compartment of an HE machine for hassle-free softening.

Baking Soda Method

Baking soda is a natural, mildly abrasive powder that can help to neutralize odors, remove some stains and lift buildup left behind by commercial detergents and fabric softeners. To use baking soda as a fabric softener, add one-fourth to one-half a cup of baking soda to the washing machine along with your clothes and then run a normal cycle.

Tips for Success: Baking soda can decrease the ability for commercial laundry detergent to remove low pH stains like coffee, tea and wine, so be careful of which loads it’s added to.

Fabric Softener Method

Commercial fabric softeners coat the surface of fabrics with electrically charged compounds, causing threads to stand up from the surface for a softer, fluffier texture. Most modern washing machines have a compartment for fabric softener, releasing it into the wash at the right time to maximize effectiveness.

Tips for Success: Fabric softeners shouldn’t be used on certain materials like bath towels or flame-resistant children’s clothing as they can hinder the performance of these types of materials.

Other Tips for Softening T-shirts

Sometimes the secret to softening a T-shirt is how it’s dried. If you normally line dry your laundry, a few minutes in the dryer on low or no heat can soften T-shirts and bring them back to life. Adding dryer balls or drying T-shirts with a heavy bath towel can also help soften fabrics without chemicals or additives.

There’s more than one way to tackle a stiff T-shirt. Whether you prefer natural methods like vinegar, baking soda or scented commercial fabric softeners, almost any T-shirt can be made softer with the right products and techniques. Try some of these methods to soften T-shirts at home quickly and easily.