How to Soften Stiff Polyester Fabric (Vinegar Bath)

Here is a step-by-step process for softening stiff polyester fabric:

  1. Pretreat any stains. Use a stain remover or soak heavily soiled areas before washing to help lift dirt and grime.
  2. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the rinse dispenser or fabric softener compartment. Vinegar helps remove mineral buildup.
  3. Load the polyester item(s) into the washing machine. Avoid overfilling.
  4. Select the hottest water safe temperature for the fabric. For most polyester, this is the hot or warm water setting.
  5. Add your regular laundry detergent to the dispenser, following amount guidelines on the package.
  6. Run the wash cycle. Let it complete the entire cycle without interrupting.
  7. Once washed, remove the items from the washer. Avoid twisting or wringing which can re-stiffen fibers.
  8. While still damp, spray or rub a few drops of fabric softener directly onto each item. Focus on problem areas.
  9. Tumble dry on the highest heat setting. The heat will help relax the fibers further.
  10. Remove promptly when dry. Avoid overdrying which can cause static.
  11. If still stiff, repeat steps 1-10. It may take a few wash cycles for full softening.
  12. Consider a steam treatment as a final step to completely remove any remaining stiffness.

polyester stiff

Polyester fabric is a popular choice for clothing because it is durable and can be washed and dried quickly. However, polyester can sometimes be stiff and uncomfortable.

To soften stiff polyester fabric, you can use fabric softener or vinegar.

This blog post will discuss ways to soften the polyester fabric and make it more comfortable to wear!

How to Soften Stiff Polyester Fabric

polyester sportwear
New polyester clothing is most of the time stiff. Credit: canva

There are a few different ways you can soften the fabric. The most popular ones are by using fabric softeners and vinegar.

Use Fabric Softener

softener washing machine
Using fabric softener in a washing machine. Credit: canva

This is probably the most obvious tip, but it’s also the most effective.

Just add a cup of fabric softener to your washing machine’s rinse cycle and let it do its job. You’ll be amazed at how much softer your clothes will feel after one wash.

Give Them a Vinegar Bath

soaking cloth
Soaking a t-shirt with water and vinegar (vinegar bath). Credit: canva

Vinegar is a natural fabric softener, so adding a cup of vinegar to your laundry will help soften your garments.

Be sure to use white vinegar, as colored vinegar can stain your clothes. And if you’re worried about your clothes smelling like vinegar, don’t worry – the smell will disappear once they’re dry.

Stiff Polyester Fabric

polyester new bedding
Polyester bedding. Credit: canva

Polyester is stiff because it is a synthetic fiber made from petroleum. It does not have the natural give and stretch that cotton has.

The stiffness can also be because of the dyes and chemical treatments such as industrial starch. This usually happens to newly opened garments that have not been washed or dry-cleaned yet.

Manufacturers often add elastane, or spandex, to the fabric to give it some stretch. But even with elastane, this fabric will never have the same flexibility as cotton.

Manufacturers usually use a blend of polyester and cotton fabrics for garments that need to be stretchy, like leggings or yoga pants.


  • Use fabric softener or vinegar during the rinse cycle.
  • Wash your clothes separately from other fabrics to prevent stains or discoloration.
  • Allow new garments to soften by washing or dry cleaning before wearing them.
  • Consider buying a polyester/cotton blend garment if you need an extra stretch.


Can the polyester fabric be ironed?

Yes, it can be ironed in a low-heat setting.

Is the polyester fabric waterproof?

No, it is not waterproof.

Can the polyester fabric be dyed easily?

The fabric can easily be dyed using traditional or commercial fabric dyes.

How durable is the polyester fabric?

It is very durable and resistant to stretching and shrinking.

Does the polyester fabric wrinkle easily?

It has a low wrinkle resistance and may need to be ironed or steamed to remove wrinkles.

Can the polyester fabric be used for upholstery?

Yes, the stiff nature of the fabric makes it suitable for upholstery projects such as furniture and cushions.

Can the polyester fabric be dry-cleaned?

It can typically be dry-cleaned. However, it is always best to check with your dry cleaner before bringing in any garment or material made of this fabric.

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