Fail: softening a t-shirt using salt and water

Pinterest is filled with many how-to tips, but how many work? I came across this simple recipe graphic on how to soften a stiff t-shirt (“How to make your tees feel vintage soft”) and it is very popular, getting a lot of pins. I thought it sounded genius, but then I also came across these two different blog posts about this method. Their results? Not promising.


Two bloggers try out several methods for softening a t-shirt using baking soda, vinegar salt and water. The results were not impressive, but one method got the t-shirt very clean.

One blogger, Christy Kirwan, (“How to Soften a New T-Shirt”) tried two different t-shirt softening methods: one involving a baking soda and vinegar mix and a wash through the washing machine, and another involving a boiling salt water soak.

“(I) couldn’t tell any difference in the shirt’s texture or softness,” wrote Kirwan about the baking soda and vinegar mix wash.  “It (the t-shirt) felt just as scratchy against my skin and wasn’t more pliable or flexible.”

She did note how fresh and clean the shirt looked and the mixture did not hurt her washer, so she attempted the other method involving soaking the shirt in a salt water mixture (in a pot on the stove, not in her washer.)

“The fabric in general feels softer, but only slightly,” she wrote.  “The shirt is not noticeably more pliable or flexible, as far as I can tell. It feels about the same.”

She only soaked the shirt for 30-45 minutes and some of the commenters told her to soak her shirt for several days in the salt water mixture.

Natalie Dee followed the method from the graphic on Pinterest (“Private Pinvestigator/T Shirt Experiment”), which recommends soaking the shirt in salt water for several days. She picked four different t-shirts and soaked them in the recommend mixture for three days yet, did not notice a difference in the fabric or feel of any of the t-shirts.

Do you have a recipe or tip for how to soften a stiff t-shirt that works? Share it below or via social media.


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