How to Soften Cotton Pants?

Cotton is one of the most durable fibers for clothes. They go stiff for the following reasons:

  • Construction method
  • Heat or hot wash

Construction method

Cotton fibers are tightly woven which is what gives them the strength they exhibit in clothes and general fabric usage. You will notice these in denim that has no spandex in them.

You’d also notice this stiffness in other special clothings like the clothes martial artists use or the kimono.

This construction is also responsible for the durability you enjoy from denim.

Heat or hot wash

Cotton goes stiff after a hot wash because the fibers contract and the gaps between them close together.

When exposed to heat the fibers in cotton shrink. The cotton goes into a semi-constricted mode and they stiffen up.

Cotton will also go stiff if you keep them stored in a dark, dry place for a long period. Along with it getting stained, you will have to wash the cotton to get it to soften.

Understanding why cotton goes stiff will assist you in reversing the situation. Not all stiff fabrics are treated the same way because all fabrics have different constituents. Some cotton fabrics have a mix of spandex or polyester.

Different ways you can soften stiff cotton pants (with liquid)

how to soften cotton pants

As noted already, not all fabrics have the same constituents and would not be treated the same way. Here in this article, we address 100% cotton fabrics and the several ways to soften them.

Follow these suggestions to soften cotton pants:

  • Baking soda performs softening wonders
  • Leverage white vinegar too
  • You can combine baking soda and vinegar for a faster effect
  • Epsom salt and Natural oils will also work
  • Hair Conditioner and Vinegar are also cool

Baking soda performs softening wonders

Baking soda has been used to soften clothes and different fabrics for centuries. They are useful in the kitchen and also for laundry. Below is how to use baking soda to soften 100% cotton pants.

  • Fill your machine with water enough for the pants
  • Add half a cup of baking soda
  • Wait for the mixture to dissolve
  • Add your cotton pants after this and let the machine run

One of the best things you will love about using baking soda to soften your cotton pants is, that it regulates the pH of the water in your machine. The more you use it, the softer your cotton pants get.

Leverage white vinegar too

Here comes another item from your kitchen that will help your cotton pants soften in no time. It is white vinegar. Note that there are other variants of vinegar.

Be sure to choose the white one because its chemical composition is just right for fabrics.

Follow these suggestions:

  • When your cotton pants are in the rinse cycle add half a cup of vinegar
  • Rinse
  • Hang to air dry

Note that you should use white vinegar after your cotton pants have gone through the regular wash. Using it in the rinse cycle ensures that your laundry doesn’t smell.

You can combine baking soda and vinegar for a faster effect

Use a combination of baking soda and vinegar for the extra potency that you will get. You may have to do this if your cotton pants is extra stiff.

  • Measure one cup of baking soda into a cup, and about 7 cups of white vinegar
  • Stir well until the mixture is properly combined
  • Add this mixture to your rinse cycle with your cotton pants in it
  • Hang to dry

This combination provides a double whammy of natural softening potency. There is no way your stiff pants can escape this one without softening up real good.

Epsom salt and Natural oils will also work

It gets even better with Epsom salt. With this, you are able to soften your pants and walk away with the benefit of a well-scented cloth.

  • Simply add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt to the wash cycle
  • Drop a little lavender oil or some other that you have in too

Use oils in your machine with caution though. It is better to let the use of oils end in there and not take it to your dryer.

Hair Conditioner and Vinegar are also cool

This is another effective combination to get your cotton pants feeling soft. One is from the kitchen and the other from your hair collection kit in the bathroom.

To use this combo, do this:

  • Pour a liter of water into a big bowl
  • Add 3 cups of vinegar
  • Add 2 cups of hair conditioner
  • Stir gently so it doesn’t get foamy
  • Add to your rinse cycle
  • Wait for the wonderful results
  • Hang to dry

When using a hair conditioner it is important to choose wisely. Not all conditioners smell nice. Choose the type that gives off the best scent you want to perceive from your clothes.

Non-liquid ways of softening cotton pants

The job can be done in various other ways that don’t require liquid additives. As they say, there’s more than one way to skin a whatever.

The following two ways are based on the principle that static electricity hardens fabrics. So all you have to do is mitigate this static or prevent it, then your cotton pants can become softer as you wash them.

  • Drop wood dryer balls into your cotton dryer machine
  • Toss Aluminum foil among your cotton pants

Wool Dryer Balls

You need dryer balls for this, and all you need to do is drop a few into your dryer among the cotton pants.

You can order wool dryers online or buy them at your local stores. Three balls is enough depending on how many pants you want to soften. This is one of the best natural ways to get your cotton pants softened.

Aluminum Foil

This may come as a surprise to many but you can actually roll up an aluminum foil into little balls, and drop it into your dryer or laundry.

You probably have foils in your kitchen. All you need to do is take 3 to 4 square feet of foil, crumple it into a ball and toss it among your pants.

You can make softening your stiff cotton pants a continuous project by creating more balls that you can toss in with your pants to make them progressively softer.

How To Break In New Cotton Pants Fast

The emphasis here is on fast. Washing and progressively wearing your cotton pants will get them softened in the long run, but sometimes you can achieve this in a short time.

There are different ways to soften your cotton pants fast.

  • You can use fabric softener to break in fast
  • Ride a bike with your cotton pants
  • Do lunges
  • Soak the cotton pants
  • Wear the new cotton pants daily

You can use fabric softener to break in fast

A little bit of care needs to be applied here when using fabric softeners because they are chemicals and this may have adverse effects on your fabric.

So, check the label on your pants before using this. Certain brands instruct you not to use chemicals on your clothes.

ou have to respect this. But if the label of your pants doesn’t give specific instructions against this, then here goes:

  • Set your machine wash to cold
  • Add your detergent
  • Add a little fabric softener depending on the number of pants you have in there
  • Let the machine run
  • Repeat the wash
  • Hang your pants to dry

This should get your pants soft immediately after you dry them out. The stiffness in your pants determines how much fabric softener you use in your wash.

Do not overuse though, for the sake of the fabric. Certain fabrics like denim may need more than chino pants.

Ride a bike with your cotton pants

Yes, you heard that right. Ride bikes with the pants constantly immediately after you purchase them. Two things happen as you ride with the pants:

  • The seats open up
  • The legs loosen up

The seats open up

One of the places where you feel the stiffness in new pants is in the seats. They can make it awfully difficult to dip your hands in the pocket or even walk properly.

Riding a bike allows you to seat and as your legs work the pedals the seams in the area around the crotch and the seat loosens up in record time. Just two rides can do wonders for your new pants.

The legs loosen up

Riding a bike with your new pants also works the thigh area, which is one of the places in your new pants where you feel the tightening in the fabric.

The motion of riding and seating loosens the seams of the leg area of your pants and you can instantly feel the give that follows.

Do lunges

You can do a fast break-in with certain exercises like lunges. Note that this isn’t your regular exercise session, you are only trying to free up your new pants.

So, go easy on this routine. Do the lunges around the house, perhaps after dressing up and you are prepared to go out with the pants. If the pants in question are denim, even better.

With denim pants, you can go hard on exertion. You will feel the quick freedom in the seat, crotch, and knee area of your pants.

Soak The Cotton Pants

Many love the smell of new pants or clothes so they like to wait after several wears before washing their pants.

But if you want a fast break-in with your new pants, one of the best ways to get it is too deep the pants in water and give them a good wash.

The fibers in the fabric loosen quickly. Hang the pants to air dry but don’t let them dry completely.

Put the pants on and either walk around in them or go out in them. A bonus activity would be riding a bike with the pants or lunges.

An advantage of this method is, that you automatically break the pants in, and they also kind of conform to your body.

Wear The New Cotton Pants Everyday

Okay, you knew we were going to say this. Simply wearing the new pants regularly breaks them in.

The exertion your body puts it through weakens the bonds in the seams. Your body conforms to it daily and every time you put the pants on.

How To Take Care Of Your Cotton Pants

Cotton Pants are a durable breed of clothes in your wardrobe. The care you give them even elongates their lifespan. The following care practices are best for cotton pants:

  • Listen to the tag
  • Use high-performing detergents on them
  • Wash in cold water
  • Wash in the washing machine and let the cycle be gentle
  • Fold your cotton pants before storing

Listen to the tag

Pay attention to what the tag on your pants says about care and washing. It may say on it that you can only machine wash, or that you should tumble dry low or fast.

It may even tell you if you should wash using detergent or not, or whether to use chemicals like fabric softeners. Do whatever it says on the tag and you’d be protecting your cotton pants.

Use high-performing detergents on them

You need good or high-performing detergents for your cotton pants. You can tell a good one by reading instructions on it or checking reviews from other customers.

This sort of detergent also makes washing faster so that your pants don’t stay too long in the dryer, or you don’t wash them repeatedly in one session.

Wash in cold water

The best water temperature for cotton pants is generally cold. Cold washes preserve the fabric. Hot water weakens the fabric every time you wash the pants.

Except where the cotton is only a percentage of the composition of the pants fabric, always use cold washes.

Wash in a machine and let the washing cycle be gentle

Cotton pants can be washed on just about any type of cycle. Use a gentle cycle for your cotton pants or wash them by hand.

Washing by hand helps you focus on the parts that need more attention. It also helps to break the pants in if it’s a new one.

Fold your cotton pants before storing

If you need to store your pants for a long period, wash them first. Then fold them in a dresser rather than hanging them.

This prevents dust from getting on the pants. In a dresser, you are also able to protect them from moths or carpet beetles. You can put mothballs in the dresser to keep those things at bay.

If you store the pants in a plastic container, which keeps moths and beetles out, be sure to always air them periodically. Doing this keeps odors away and also removes moisture that may cause molds.

Do not store in attics, damp corners, or in the basement. Storing cotton pants in those places exposes the pants to moisture buildup, which in turn leads to molds.

Bottom Line

You can soften your stiff pants faster than you think. You just have to follow the best suggestions.

Cotton Pants are some of the most durable pants, but they must not be taken for granted. Note that chemicals like fabric softeners are optional and may not be the best for your pants.

Always read the information on the tags of your pants.


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