How to Soften Itchy & Scratchy Clothes

No matter how stylish the garment, if it itches or makes you feel uncomfortable, you will not enjoy wearing it, even for a few minutes. People who have sensitive skin may even find scratchy clothing irritating, causing redness or chafing. By using a few household products, you can soften rough textiles, making them cozier and wearable. Always read the clothing labels before washing or hand washing. Adhere to the washing instructions, especially if they call for dry cleaning. Consult your dry cleaning professional about treatments to soften scratchy clothes.

Hand wash your knit sweaters after eight to ten wearings to maintain softness. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • Liquid fabric detergent

  • Baking soda

  • Baby sock

  • Vinegar

  • Fabric softener sheets

  • Hair conditioner

  • Towels

Machine Wash Softening

Step 1

Put scratchy clothes in the washing machine. Set the machine on the gentle cycle and select cool water to avoid fabric shrinkage. Add a gentle fabric detergent to the washing machine.

Step 2

Spoon three teaspoons of baking soda into a baby sock. Toss the sock in the load for extra softening.

Step 3

Pour in 1/2 cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle. Use 1 full cup of vinegar if softening a load of clothes.

Step 4

Move clothes to the dryer when the washing cycle has ended. Select the cool dry feature on your washing machine. Put two fabric softener sheets in the dryer to help soften clothes.

Soften with Hand Washing

Step 1

Fill a sink or tub with warm water and cap full of gentle liquid laundry detergent. Place the scratchy garment in the water.

Step 2

Wash the garment and rinse it with cool water. Squeeze out the excess water.

Step 3

Refill the sink with lukewarm water. Pour in three teaspoons of hair conditioner in the sink. Submerge the clothing into the water for 30 minutes. Rinse the garment out with cool water.

Step 4

Roll up the garment to squeeze out the water. Place the sweater on a fluffy towel. Roll up the towel to dry it out. Repeat the process with a new, dry towel. Lay the item flat to dry it completely.


Do not use hair conditioner designed for special skin conditions like dandruff. These leave a filmy substance on a sweater.

References & Resources