How to Break in Overalls

To look as good as Fergie on the red carpet, make sure to break in your overalls first.
To look as good as Fergie on the red carpet, make sure to break in your overalls first. (Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Overalls are designed for comfort and utility, often featuring multiple pockets and loops. However, they're often made from sturdy material that can make these garments sometimes a little stiff upon first wear. By following steps to ensure your overalls are soft and pliable, you can wear them to work in the garden or to head to the corner market in comfort and style.

Things You'll Need

  • Top-loading washing machine
  • 1 cup salt
  • Fabric softener
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • Dryer
  • Dryer balls
  • Drying rack

Start your washing machine on its cold cycle. Let the water fill the machine about 1/3 of the way.

Add 1 cup of salt to the water. This prevents the color in your overalls from bleeding while preserving the hue. Stir the solution a little by hand to distribute and diffuse the salt in the water.

Add a 1/2 cup of liquid fabric softener to the water. Let the salt, water and softener mix thoroughly prior to adding your overalls to the machine. Avoid pouring softener right on the overalls. If you prefer a more natural softening agent, a 1/4 cup of baking soda mixed with a 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar works well.

Let the overalls go through a normal wash cycle. Stop the washer before it reaches the rinse cycle. Reset it to the same wash cycle previously used. You may have to do this a few times if your overalls are really stiff. Let the machine perform the rinse after the third or fourth reset.

Toss the overalls into the dryer along with two to three softening balls. Dry the overalls on the lowest setting your machine offers. If you are also trying to shrink the overalls, set the machine on its hottest setting.

Hang the overalls on a drying rack to let them finish drying if you used the the lowest setting on your machine.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wearing your overalls whenever possible helps break them in even faster.
  • Tennis balls can be used in lieu of dryer balls, but test them for colorfastness first under warm running water prior to adding them to the load.
  • Putting on the overalls while still slightly damp can help form them to your body shape. If you do this, avoid sitting on anything that might pick up any indigo dye.
  • Bleach is also a good softening agent but you must use very little to avoid lightening the color of your overalls. Check the care tag on the inside of the garment to determine if it's safe for use bleach with the overall's fabric.

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