How to Restore Stiff Cotton Sweaters

The fluffy fibers of cotton yarn will shrink and stiffen after a few washes and wearings, but you can soften stiff sweaters and make them wearable again. Drying sweaters on a clothesline or washing them incorrectly will stiffen cotton garments quickly. Even preshrunk cotton sweaters can stiffen over time. Soften up an uncomfortable cotton pullover or cardigan with special washing and drying techniques. For the best results, wash your cotton sweaters after every three wearings.

Read the care label on your sweater before washing, drying or dry-cleaning. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Step 1

Machine-wash the cotton sweater in cold or warm water using the gentle cycle. Place the sweater in a lingerie bag to protect buttons, zippers and embellishments.

Step 2

Remove the sweater from the washing machine after the wash cycle is completed. Squeeze out any excess water.

Step 3

Fill a plastic bucket or tub with lukewarm water and three tablespoons of conditioner.

Step 4

Press the sweater into the water and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.

Step 5

Rinse the sweater out in clean, cool water. Squeeze the water from the sweater with your hands, then roll the sweater in a fluffy towel.

Step 6

Spread the sweater out over a fresh, dry towel to dry. Smooth out the wrinkles with your hands.

Things You'll Need

  • Lingerie bag

  • Plastic bucket or tub

  • Hair conditioner

  • Towels


Run the sweater through a dryer cycle with tennis or dryer balls to make sweaters feel softer.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.