flannel shirts

Style Secrets: How to Soften Your Flannel Shirt

Winter’s chill means you want clothing that’s warm and cozy. A flannel shirt is a classic winter wardrobe piece that is well-known for its ability to retain warmth. Discover the secrets for getting the softest, coziest winter flannel!

Secret #1: You May Not Need to Soften Your Flannel Shirt

The first style secret to getting a flannel shirt that is the ultimate in comfort and softness is to make sure you are buying a high quality, well-made flannel shirt from a trusted brand. Flannel shirts are not all the same, and if you don’t choose a quality company from which to purchase, your shirt might reflect that. Poor stitching, sub-par construction, and low-quality fabric will mean you’re left with an uncomfortable flannel shirt that will get relegated to the back of your closet and never be worn. However, choosing to buy the best quality means you have excellent construction, careful stitching, a good design, and a fabric that you can trust. If you buy from a good brand, you may not need to do anything to soften your flannel shirt. The type of fabric and the way it was made could mean it is super soft and cozy from the moment you buy it.

Secret #2: Some Fabrics Are Softer Than Others

As you are browsing for flannel shirts, look carefully at the type of material from which it’s made. Some options are much softer than others; for example, flannel tops made from 100% cotton are a good choice. Look for brushed flannel, cotton flannel that is brushed on both sides, or brushed ringspun cotton. Polyester shirts may also be considered if the fabric is well brushed.

Secret #3: Don’t Dismiss the Care Instructions

A flannel shirt that is washed or dried improperly may not be as soft as it was intended to be. Make sure to follow the instructions on the care tag for your specific shirt. Flannel is easy to machine wash, but make sure you’re washing for the specific fabric with which your shirt is designed. In many cases, you can wash flannel in cold or warm (not hot) water on a permanent press or gentle cycle with mild detergent. Dry according to the care tag–you may need to air dry your shirt or keep the dryer setting on low. Keep in mind this applies to other flannel items, too, like your flannel pajamas.

Secret #4: Use the Right Detergent

Using harsh detergents won’t do your flannel any favors in the softness department. Only wash flannel with a mild detergent. For best results, look for detergents that are free from phosphates, enzymes, and chlorine. Also, keep in mind that you’ll never want to use chlorine bleach on your flannel shirt if you hope to wear it again.

Secret #5: Wash Flannel Separately

Avoid washing your flannel shirts or other flannel items with different fabric types. If they are washed with non-flannel fabrics, it may cause extra friction on the flannel. This extra friction will reduce its softness. Instead, add all your flannel items to the same load and then wash. Grab your flannel sheets, jammies, and whatever other flannel pieces you have and toss them in together.

Secret #6: Use White Vinegar Instead of Liquid Fabric Softener

Since you’re going to be washing your shirt anyway, you can use some easy softening methods to make your shirt feel it’s best. It can be tempting to use liquid softeners, but these can leave a residue behind. Interestingly enough, using fabric softener can actually decrease the softness of women's or men's flannel shirts. Instead, add white vinegar to your final rinse cycle to help increase softness.

Secret #7: Add Baking Soda to Wash Water

If your shirt is still not as soft as you like it, another trick is to add baking soda to your wash cycle. Add a quarter cup, half cup, or full cup according to your load size. You will still need to add your regular detergent, but the baking soda acts as a softening agent. If you add it to the wash water, all traces will be gone after the final rinse, leaving you only with soft and cozy flannel.

Secret #8: Soak It in Salt Waterk

Another method you can try is to fill a tub with cool water and add a half cup of table salt. Dissolve the salt in the water by stirring with a large spoon and place your flannel shirt in the mixture. Allow the shirt to soak in the saltwater solution for up to three days, then wash according to its care instructions.

Secret #9: Iron Your Flannel Shirt the Right Way

Yes, you can iron flannel, but there’s a trick to it in order to make sure you won’t make it rough and remove its soft finish. Use a warm iron with a steam setting and set it according to the fabric type (wool flannel, cotton flannel, etc.). Iron only on the inside of the shirt in order to keep it soft.

Soft and Cozy Flannel Shirts

By following a few simple tips and tricks, you can keep your flannel shirts soft and cozy all winter long. Sit back and lounge in that flannel robe, check out some of the latest styles, and pick out a new flannel shirt or two to add to your winter wardrobe!

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