Something is comforting about freshly laundered clothes that are soft and fluffy. So, it can get very frustrating when they come out of the washing machine all stiff and crunchy. To help you out with this laundry problem, we’ve gathered ways on how to soften clothes. Read on for helpful tips.
3 Reasons Why Garments Become Stiff After Washing
There are several solutions to the annoying problem of clothes feeling stiff after coming out of the washing machine. However, it would be best to investigate the reasons behind this laundry dilemma before addressing them.
Reason #1. Adding the Wrong Kind of Fabric Conditioner
Ironically, the use of fabric softener can make your clothes stiff. It can give you results opposite of its purpose. Using the inappropriate amount and the wrong brand can make your garments come out looking like rough cardboard.
While the scent of the fabric softener is one of the deciding factors of which brand to buy, it would be best not to use it as a sole basis for your purchase.
Consider buying reliable brands that cost a bit more than mass-produced types. Usually, the cheaper ones with the tacky labels have harsh chemicals that do more harm than good.
Even if the best brand, the use of too much fabric softener can also result in stiff clothes after washing. As tempting as it may be to dunk heaps of the softener to achieve sweet-smelling garments, they may come out feeling rough.
Reason #2. Using Too Much Laundry Detergent
There’s a saying that states, “too much of a good thing can also be bad,” and that applies to laundry detergent as well. This product may be an essential element in washing clothes, but it can make your clothes feel starched if you use too much.
When you add massive amounts of soap to your laundry, your washing machine will struggle to get rid of the suds during the rinsing process. It may result in detergent residue clinging to your clothes, making them stiff after washing. Air drying clothes that you did not rinse properly can also result in tough garments.
Reason #3. Handwashing
You may decide to wash clothes by hand because your washing machine broke down or when you only need to wash one piece of clothing. However, handwashing can’t guarantee a complete rinse. When your garment has detergent residue, it’s likely to be stiff when it’s dried.
How to Soften Clothes With Natural Ingredients
Now that we’ve discussed why clothes come out stiff after washing, we will outline the solutions to this nasty laundry problem. There are several ways to soften clothes naturally. This method foregoes using chemical treatments. They are gentler to the skin and the environment as well.
Aside from adding another dimension to food, this popular kitchen staple can also do wonders in the laundry. Laundry detergent is alkaline, and vinegar can neutralize and dissolve excess soap. When there is no detergent residue, clothes can come out nice and soft.
- Rub a few drops of vinegar in an inconspicuous part of the garment to be washed. This test will check if the acid will damage your fabric. Some synthetic materials have adverse reactions to vinegar, so it would be best not to skip this part.
- Add 250 ml or one cup of vinegar to your load before starting the rinse cycle. You may also place the vinegar on the fabric softener dispenser of your machine. It will automatically release the vinegar before the rinse process.
- If there’s still a vinegar smell after washing, you may repeat the rinse process without adding any vinegar.
- Dry the clothes like you usually would.
Any seasoned homemaker can attest to the cleaning powers of baking soda. This common baking ingredient can also help in making clothes soft and odor-free. This pantry essential can also regulate the laundry water’s pH level, which can also help in softening and strengthening the clothes.
- Switch on your washing machine and fill it with water.
- Dissolve ½ cup of baking soda in the water.
- If you’re using a front-load washing machine, you may place the baking soda into the laundry detergent compartment. It will automatically pour the baking soda when it’s time to wash.
- Dry the clothes in the dryer after the wash cycle is done.
How to Use Laundry Products to Soften Clothes
There are also products designed to make clothes soft that you can buy in supermarkets. To know which brands are the best, you may ask family and friends for their advice. You can also read reviews online get feedback on the product you have your eyes on.
Fabric softeners are one of the most popular laundry products, next to laundry detergent. It is formulated not only to soften but to freshen garments as well. Some brands can also prevent clothes from stretching, fading, and piling. They come in a vast array of variants and scents.
Steps in Using Fabric Softener:
- Check the fabric softener’s label for instructions on how much liquid you need to add to your laundry.
- Add it to the final rinse part of your laundry cycle.
- If you have a modern washing machine, you may add the liquid in the fabric softener dispense. It will automatically release the fabric softener before the final rinse cycle begins.
- On the other hand, you may add the fabric softener before your final rinse if you’re handwashing.
Dryer balls are made from wool, rubber, or plastic. When placed in the dryer, they tumble between the fabrics during the cycle. The dryer balls fluff the clothes as they move inside, making them soft and smooth.
Steps in Using Dryer Balls:
- Toss two to three balls in the dryer.
- Set the dryer to the settings recommended by the clothes’ care label.
Dryer sheets are paper-like materials made from cellulose fibers or polyester. They contain fragrances, softeners, and lubricants. They prevent clothes from sticking to one another during the drying cycle.
Steps in Using Dryer Sheets:
- Gather your laundry from the washer and place them on the dryer.
- Add a piece of dryer sheet on top of the laundry. Make sure to use a fresh sheet every time you start a new load.
- If you’re drying an enormous load, check the package instructions to know how many sheets you need to use.
- Ensure that you do not overload the dryer. The dryer sheets can get stuck between clothes if the load is too crowded. When this happens, the dryer sheet may stain your clothes.
- Remove the dryer sheet once the cycle is over.
How to Use Other Household Products to Soften Clothes
Aside from the natural ingredients and laundry essentials that we’ve mentioned, there are also other household products that you never expected to soften clothes. You may already have these helpful products in your home.
Magnesium sulfate or Epsom Salt is oxygen, sulfur, and magnesium chemical compound. It is commonly used to relieve joint pains and relax muscles. You can buy this product in supermarkets and pharmacies or purchase them online.
Steps in Using Epsom Salt:
- Before starting the rinse cycle, add 25 grams or one tablespoon of Epsom salt to your wash.
- You may add one to two drops of your favorite essential oils to give your clothes a pleasant scent. Pine or lavender essential oils can be your best bet.
- Keep in mind, though, that essential oils pose a fire risk in the dryer, so if you’re planning to use them, air drying is the safer option.
Aluminum Foils is metalized paper that homemakers and chefs use to cover baking surfaces, store food, and retain the heat of grilled meats. Aside from its role in the kitchen, tin foils can help in the laundry area by substituting dryer balls. They also fluff the clothes inside the dryer and prevent static from building up.
Steps in Using Aluminum Foil:
- Cut some foil into pieces of four square feet each.
- Crumple each piece to create a compressed ball of foil.
- Toss two to three pieces of aluminum foil balls in the dryer together with your washed laundry. Set the dryer using the care instructions on your clothes.
- Please remember to remove the aluminum foil balls after each drying cycle.
- You may reuse the aluminum foil balls many times until they lose shape.
Borax is a mineral powder used for cleaning floors, tiles, and other surfaces. Borax can help remove detergent residue from clothes, making them softer after washing.
Steps in Using Borax:
- Measure ½ cup of borax and add it to the wash water.
- Set your washing machine to the spin cycle recommended by your clothes’ care labels.
Freshly laundered clothes that are crunchy and stiff can be disappointing. They are supposed to be comfortable and soft to the touch. It’s a good thing; there are ways to soften clothes using various products that you can do in the comforts of your home. The steps are easy to follow and use readily available materials.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.