DIY Guide on How to Soften a T-Shirt

If there is a proper synonym for t-shirts, it has to be versatility. From casual clothes to everyday companions, from classy accompaniments to fashion statements, from merchandise to pajamas, t-shirts are everywhere.

But why t-shirts?

The answer lies in comfort. T-shirts are quite literally the most comfortable piece of clothing present in anyone’s wardrobe.

However, like everything else, there is a flip side of the coin, and suddenly t-shirts are not so comfortable anymore, but rather, they are stiff, scratchy, and unstructured.

No need to worry, though! It is extremely easy to learn how to soften a t-shirt. And the best part is, you can complete the process by yourself.

Want to know more? Well, read on.

How To Soften A T-Shirt | Easiest Methods

Softening a t-shirt is easy. So, let’s get on with the processes you can implement.

Vinegar Mix

Vinegar wash is the ideal way to soften cotton t-shirts. And with vinegar being a pantry staple, it is also not very difficult.


  • Clear vinegar
  • Baking soda 
  • Measuring spoons and cups



To start, gather the necessary ingredients – vinegar, baking soda, and a few measurement spoons and cups. It is to be noted that the vinegar should be clear, as any other kind, i.e., red wine, apple cider, etc., will stain the fabric.

Next, Take a large bowl and put in a tablespoon of baking soda. Measure out a cup of vinegar and slowly add it in. Make sure to trap most of the resulting fizz in the bowl.

Then, Once the fizzing stops, stir and dissolve the rest of the baking soda.

Next, Pour the vinegar and baking soda mixture on the t-shirt and wash well.

Lastly, dry as normal, and enjoy your softer t-shirt!

Salt Solution

The salt solution is mainly used to soften cotton and polyester t-shirts.


  • One large pot with lid
  • One cup of salt 
  • Wooden spoon
  •  Water
  • Range or stovetop
  • Strainer or colander


Frist, Get a large pot, some salt, and water. Fill the pot with water, stir in a cup of salt and leave it on the stove to boil.

Next, Take the t-shirt and wet it, then carefully submerge it into the solution. It is advisable to use a wooden spoon or something similar to avoid any accidents.

After the t-shirt is placed, turn the stove’s burner down to low and leave for around forty minutes. Make sure to keep the lid on the pot.

Once the time is up, carefully drain the t-shirt in a colander. Let it cool, and then wash the excess salt away.

Pumice Stone

Pumice stone is a pretty ingenious way to soften t-shirts. Because really, if it can scrub away dead skin cells, what is stopping it from smoothening rough patches of fabric?

Unlike the above methods, this one needs no liquids, it is also very simple to use.


  • Pumice stone
  • Water


First, Just take a pumice stone and brush it all over the t-shirt.

Next, Soak in some water and fabric softener overnight.

Lastly, Run it through a normal wash cycle the next morning and and there you have it !

Scouring Pads

Scouring pads are a great way to soften printed t-shirts, as it does the work without ruining the ink or making the pigment bleed.


  • Salt
  • Powder Detergent
  • Scouring Pad


First, Grab some salt, powder detergent, and of course, the scouring pads. Tackle the neckline, sleeves, and hemline of the t-shirt with the pads and completely avoid every other area, especially the printed part.

Next, Place the t-shirt in a cycle set to high heat and allow the water to fill. When the tub is almost filled, add in a cup of salt and a quarter cup of detergent. Allow the machine to go through one wash.

Finally, Dry the t-shirt on high heat, and repeat the entire process a few more times till soft enough.


Sandpaper is an alternative for scouring pads. So, in other words, sandpaper is also a way to soften printed t-shirts.

The method is pretty much the same as it is when scouring pads are used, except sandpaper is used instead.

Tumble Dry

Tumble drying is a preferable way to soften t-shirts as opposed to air drying. While air drying is a more eco-friendly solution, tumble drying is one for comfort.


  • Fabric softener
  • Water
  • Washing Machine


First, get the t-shirt and give it a normal wash with water and fabric softener.

Next, Leave it out till at least 60-70% of the fabric is dry. 

Then, Place it in a machine set to low tumble dry.

Lastly, Add in a few tennis balls to work the fabric of the t-shirt. Take it out once done.

Pro Tip: If you’re allergic to soap, try this method: wash your stiff t-shirts on a warm wash/cold rinse cycle in the washing machine. Then, instead of your normal alternative, use 1 cup of nonfat “dry” milk (evaporated). Dry your items on the delicate setting in the dryer! **

Continuous Wash

Continuous washing is probably the most foolproof way to soften t-shirts because what better way is there than time and multiple washes?

Reasons Why Your T-Shirt Is Stiff And Stretchy?

If you’re wondering why your t-shirt is stiff and stretchy. The only reason your t-shirt is stiff and stretchy is because it’s new, right? Wrong! There are many reasons why your shirt may be stiff and/or stretchy. Let me discuss a few of them with you: 

Improper Weave

When you wear a shirt with an improper weave, it can feel stiff and uncomfortable. This is because the fabric is too thick or too loose in some places, it difficult for them to move freely and bend with your body’s movements.

A proper weave will give your shirt elasticity so that no matter what activity you’re doing, the material will stretch in required directions. 

Strong dye: 

The dyes that are used in t-shirts can also affect how much they stretch. A strong dye might make the fabric less flexible. After a few washes, you’ll notice that the fabric becomes softer.

Quality of Blend:

T-shirts made entirely of cotton aren’t always the best option. Cotton is mixed with other fabrics such as jersey, polyester, or rayon. The t-shirt will not be comfortable to wear if these blends are not of high quality.

You may be guaranteed to acquire a t-shirt that is both high-quality and comfy when you use organic cotton. 

Thread Count

Thread count is the number of threads woven into a square inch. A higher thread count does not always imply that the cloth is of higher quality.

To enhance the thread count, manufacturers use thinner t-shirt fabric threads. Because the threads are thinner, even if the thread count is higher, the t-shirt isn’t as soft as it could be.

Why You Should Soften T-Shirt

Although T-shirts are not always comfortable to wear because they’re stiff but T-shirts are great for summer wear because they’re lightweight and breathable than other clothes. But you  can  make it even more comfortable.

Softening your t-shirt is a quick and easy way to do that. Softening the t-shirt will make it more comfortable and get rid of any polish or other things that might be on it. The fabric will also be breathable so you won’t sweat as much when wearing a soft t-shirt.

  • More comfortable to wear.
  • Get rid of the polish used on the fabric
  •  Protect skin from the harmful effects of chemicals used to treat the cotton fiber.
  • Softened t-shirt that allows more airflow
  • Makes the t-shirt fabric more breathable

Frequently Asked Questioned

Is It Important To Soften T-shirts?

Yes, t shirt will be more comfortable to wear. Another thing, washed processed will remove harmful chemical used to treat fibers which could be harmful to our skin. 

How do you Soften a Scratchy T shirt

Run them through a regular wash including fabric softener. Finally dry them to about 60-70% dryness. 

What’s The Easiest Way To Soften A T-shirt?

Rub the t-shirt with a pumice stone all over the fabric. And then soak them to fabric softener with water overnight. Clean normally, now its Done !

What can I Use instead of Fabric Softener? 

Many  of us look for the best alternatives to fabric softeners that can offer the same benefits but without the harmful effects. Wool Dryer Balls, Baking Soda, Vinegar, Epsom Salt with Baking Soda, Essential Oils  Softener Crystas, Hair Conditioner Tennis Ball are the best alternative of fabric softener. 


And there you have it! A number of methods on how to soften a t-shirt all by yourself. Just find the one that works best for you and get to work.

It is important to remember that the methods require time and multiple attempts before they allow the fabric to show any noticeable change.

So do not feel discouraged if they do not work right away. Be patient and slowly but surely, they will give the t-shirts the comfortable feel you have been looking for.

So here’s to a pleasant t-shirt experience! Happy DIYing!

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I want to live in a world where we embrace our individuality. I want to live in a world where we are encouraged to innovate- to seek new solutions to every day problems that will ultimately affect our future generations. Hi! I'm Jenelle. Though these days I am most frequently referred to as Mommy, I used to hold such titles as President, Waitress, College Student, Mud Bog Racer, and I even donned a big furry cat suit in high school as Suzy Stateliner- the school mascot! Between crushing cars with Monster Jam trucks, judging silly dance contests, and those other less fun household chores... I rescue clothing and textiles from our landfills.

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