Vintage Shirt Soak

Somehow I seem to see this pin all the time.  It doesn’t matter what I’m looking for or what areas I am looking in, I seem to come across this pin multiple times a month.  I don’t have any stiff feeling t-shirts, so I’ve always just sort of ignored it.  But then I realized I had some fabric that was stiff, and decided to give it a try.  You will need:

  • Salt
  • Water
  • A Bucket

Seriously-that’s it!  That’s all the ingredients for this soak!  You can check out my pin on my Craft Ideas board.  Unfortunately the link in the pin no longer works, but it doesn’t matter as the pin picture tells you everything you need to know.

vintage shirt soak


Oh my goodness.  Do you have any idea how much half a cup of salt is?  It’s insane!  I rarely use salt, but I still have the good sized Morton container that was mostly full.  I ended up doubling the recipe, and it used nearly all my salt.

The “recipe” is simple enough.  Add a bunch of salt to water, add fabric, let sit, wash and dry.  As you can see, I used several different fabrics.  I wanted to see how the solution worked on a few different stiffnesses.  I don’t know what was on each fabric, but they were all cotton.  Some just felt stiffer than others.  I will say that all but one of the fabrics I tried was thicker than your average t-shirt.

I doubled the recipe because it really only makes enough for one, possibly two t-shirts, and I was trying 4 different pieces of fabric.  I wanted to make sure everything was nice and submerged, so a cup of salt it was.  (Seriously-so.much.salt.)

When I pulled the fabric out of the bucket to wash it, the fabric felt disgusting.  It was coated in salt.  I thought this was a good sign.  I popped it into the washer with some towels but nothing else, just in case things didn’t work out properly.

When I pulled the fabric out of the washer, I was skeptical that the 3 day bath had done anything, but there was still one more step, so into the dryer it all went.  When everything was finally dry, I was eager to see how this experiment turned out.

Verdict?  It did have a noticeable result, but just barely.  The fabric that felt the softest was, of course, the one that was closest to t-shirt thickness.  The others were also softer, but not like the thin one.  And even that just felt somewhat softer.  Perhaps I would have thought it felt much softer if I was wearing it instead of feeling it with my hands.

I did go back with the other fabrics and soak them again (for longer this time-5 days), and I think I got a better result.  Unfortunately I used the same pieces of fabric, so I can’t be sure if they were softer because of a second soak or because of the additional time.  Next time I’ll be a better scientist.

Would I suggest this?  Sure.  I mean, I think it really would work on a t-shirt.  I just wouldn’t get super excited about trying it on anything else.  You’ll probably get some positive results, but don’t dream too big with non-t-shirt fabrics.


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