One of the most frustrating things about buying new clothes is that they sometimes feel differently than what you imagined. You don’t try everything on, and your clothes that have been worn and then washed several times just feel much more comfortable. It’s similar to the way that a pair of shoes will form to the foot after they have been worn for a while. Here are some of the ways to soften fabrics when doing laundry to give new clothes that lived in feeling.

Fabric Softeners

The most traditional way to soften clothes is to use fabric softener when washing them.  Although this approach will take repeated washes to get a lasting result, it won’t damage the fabric because it is a very gentle approach.

Products such as Wollwaschmittel are great for adding to a load of laundry especially for wool clothing. This German product is one of many environmentally friendly products available on the market. While it isn’t necessary to use eco-friendly products, using them is a good idea because it reduces the impact that toxic liquids can have when they seep into the ground.

Baking Soda

A fairly simple hack for softening natural fabrics like cotton is to add a little baking soda to the load of laundry. Most households have baking soda handy for deodorizing purposes but it will soften fabric as well. Small loads only require ¼ cup of baking soda while medium and large loads need ½ cup and a full cup respectively to do the trick. Baking soda is a natural water softener that has the same effect on cotton, hemp and linen fabrics. It also will remove smells like smoke from the clothing as well.

Salt Baths

Another option for softening fabrics like cotton is to soak the clothing in salt water for a few days before washing them. Although time consuming, this method works wonders. All it takes is filling the sink with lukewarm water and dissolving a half cup of salt for every quart of water.  Then submerge the clothing in the salt water mixture and let them soak for 2-3 days. Press the clothes down into the liquid so that it is fully absorbed into the fabric and then rinse the clothing before washing.

Tennis Balls

For people with limited time on their hands who wish to soften heavier fabrics like denim should try this unique method. Place a couple tennis balls or some other rubberized balls into the dryer with their clothes. While there is a possibility of gas being released into the fabrics potentially leaving a slight odor due to the heat of the dryer it is very effective.

This method is a modern take on washing clothes over rocks in a stream and will gently soften the fibers in the clothes being washed. This should not be used with delicate fabrics as it can cause damage.

Sand Paper

This trick is usually only used on denim jeans because it does damage the fabric. All it takes is rubbing the length of the jeans with a piece of fine grit sandpaper to turn a new pair of jeans into a pair that feels like they have been a part of the wardrobe for years.

The sandpaper causes the denim to break down a little giving it a slightly distressed look that can take years of wearing and washing to naturally achieve. This method also works well with certain polyester blends like the fabric that Dickies work clothes are made of.

Bottom Line

There is nothing more comfortable than an outfit with that broken in feeling. While this can take years in some cases to occur naturally there are several ways to speed up the process.  Taking the time and care to treat fabrics with liquids and additives will help turn that new outfit into a softer one that you will love to wear.