How to Soften Itchy & Scratchy Clothes

You can soften itchy and scratchy clothes.
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It's fundamentally impossible to have a great day when your clothes are uncomfortable. Itchy fabrics are unbearable to wear, but you don't want to throw away a perfectly good sweater because it's scratchy on the first wearing. There are a bunch of hacks to soften scratchy fabric. Which one makes sense for you to try first depends on the fabric from which your scratchy clothes are made, so check those labels before getting started.

Using Vinegar to Soften Scratchy Fabric

There's a reason that white vinegar shows up in so many cleaning stories. It's effective for cleaning all kinds of surfaces and may even take the itchiness out of certain natural fabrics too. Try soaking an itchy sweater or scratchy pants made of wool in a solution of cold water and a little white vinegar and then rinsing the item with plain cold water to remove any vinegar scent. Carefully dry wet wool on a flat surface, being careful not to pull or stretch the wool out of shape.

Alternatively, if you're trying to take the itchiness out of machine-washable clothes like scratchy pants and T-shirts, add a few cups of white vinegar to the washing machine to act as a natural fabric softener. Use detergent too and there should be no vinegar odor lingering on the fabric.

Using the Salt Method

Though it may sound a bit outlandish, using simple kosher salt may be useful in softening itchy T-shirts and other casual wear. This method is actually used by people who are trying to give new T-shirts a more vintage look and feel, which tells you a lot about what kind of results to expect.

One softening method involves making a solution of about one part salt to eight parts water and soaking the shirt in the solution for three days. At the end of three days, rinse the shirt and machine wash it with a little bit of gentle detergent. A quicker variation on this method involves heating the water and salt mixture on the stove and soaking the shirt in the hot water for about half an hour before carefully rinsing and washing it.

Using the Hair Conditioner Method

Just as conditioner softens dry hair, it can soften itchy or scratchy fibers in your favorite wool garments. This method essentially involves deep conditioning your clothing.

Start by soaking scratchy wool garments in a vinegar and water solution for best results. Then, carefully massage high-quality conditioner into the fibers and let the garment sit for about half an hour. Rinse out the conditioner and lay the garment flat for drying, being very careful not to pull it out of shape.

Using the Pumice Method

If you're trying to take the scratchiness out of really durable fabric like denim and you're willing to use some elbow grease to soften scratchy fabric, purchase a cheap pumice stone. They're usually found near the manicure and pedicure supplies. Alternatively, you can try this with a clean scouring pad.

Turn the material inside out and brush any itchy or scratchy areas of the fabric with the stone, stopping if you notice any pulling or damage to the fabric. To maximize results, follow by soaking the clothes in a vinegar solution before rinsing.

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