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How to Soften a T-Shirt: A DIY Guide


A super-soft t-shirt improves every part of your day. Each act, activity, and movement is pretty much enhanced by your torso being swathed in the softest of material. But there are times that, unlike Fresh Clean Tees, some t-shirts are tragically not as soft as they could be or should be.

Well, we’re here to fix that because we want you to wear insanely soft t-shirts, period. It just puts everyone in a better mood and that makes for a better world. But there’s more than one way to soften a t-shirt! It’s not just tossing in your favorite fabric softener (even though fabric softener rules). Here are a few tips you might not be aware of to keep those t-shirts soft, softer, and beyond soft.

Throw in a bit of vinegar.

This may seem counterintuitive, given that you want your shirts to feel soft and smell good, but it’s just for the washing process. Definitely don’t douse your threads in vinegar before heading out the door. Really, though, adding just a half-cup of vinegar to a final rinse cycle, through the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine, can do tiny wonders for the softness of your clothes. In fact, washing your threads with vinegar can do a lot more than just soften them. Doing so can brighten your whites, keep black clothes dark, reduce lint, and properly get rid of odors. Hot damn!

Use a pumice stone.

There's a chance you already own a pumice stone (and may have no idea how your home came to obtain it). Although typically used for skin care, a pumice stone can actually soften your t-shirt, just as it does your epidermis. However, keep in mind that stone-washing comes with the added risk of making your clothes look worn out. In fact, the process of stone-washing is often used for jeans and denim jackets to give them that uniquely beaten up look. So it’s best to be gentle with that pumice stone as you brush your t-shirt. Once you’re done, soak your t-shirt in fabric softener and cold water overnight and wash normally the following day.

Salt it up.

Just as salt makes your food better, it can make your clothes better too. To season your t-shirt, mix a quart of water with a half-cup of salt in a big bowl or bucket. Stir that around and submerge your t-shirt in there. Leave it alone for several days. Then ring it out and toss it in the washing machine for a normal cycle, and it’ll feel like a night shirt you’ve owned for decades.

Start with an air-dry, end with a tumble dry.

As much as air-drying your clothes outdoors evokes imagery of a cool breeze gently wafting through your yard and therefore your laundry, it can also stiffen your threads a bit. Air-drying your clothes often ensures your clothes last longer while putting them in for a tumble dry can make them softer. The solution of course is to score the best of both worlds. So, once your clothes are thoroughly washed, air-dry them on an indoor rack or an outdoor line until they’re notably less damp and then throw them into a low tumble dry cycle for the final portion.

Head’s up, these softening methods are not always a one-and-done deal. It may take a few run-throughs to get it to the softness level you want. Try one out, see how it works for you, and then do it up again if it does; whatever you have to do to dress in comfy crew neck t-shirts, velvety v-neck t-shirts, plush polo shirts, and the like. Your closet doesn’t have to be full of Fresh Clean Tees to be full of super-soft tees!

— Jake Kilroy

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