You can take the liberty and compare flannel to wine. Just like wine, flannel gets better with time. Maybe you have some chic womens flannel shirts in your wardrobe, that have been washed so many times that they have become as soft as a baby’s skin. However, once flannel takes on that coarse texture, there’s not much you can do to reverse it.
There’s a way to keep flannel soft. Giving it a rough handwash or just putting it inside the machine won’t be of any help. Starting with the very first wash, you need to wash it the right way every time.
The Right Way to Wash Flannel
Remember, the more the fabric rubs against itself, the more piling will take place. So, your goal while washing flannel clothing should be to agitate the fabric as less as possible. If you are handwashing it then give it a gentle handwash, and if you are using a washing machine then use the gentle cycle. Suppose you have decided to wash your flannel jumpsuits, don’t mix any other fabric along with them. This will help to minimize friction.
Use warm or cool water to wash the flannel with mild detergent. Never use hot water to wash flannel, especially cotton flannel. Flannel may shrink if exposed to high heat as with other cotton fabrics. Don’t use any detergent that contains liquid or bleach fabric softener on the flannel fabrics, if you don’t want to destroy the pieces for good. Most detergents from convenience stores contain chemicals that will soften the fabric but at the same time, will ruin the fibers as well. The fabric softeners coat the fibers and don’t really wash them entirely.
If you really want to soften the flannel pieces then pour about ½ cup of white vinegar into the washing machine while it’s getting filled with water. This white vinegar is a natural and effective fabric softener that won’t leave a stiff and hard residue on the flannel, unlike chemical-filled fabric softeners.
This is How You Should Dry Flannel
Always air-dry flannel clothing and bedsheets so that they can avoid the agitation that they would otherwise have to suffer inside your dryer. Tumble dry flannel with your dryer’s low-heat or no-heat setting if that’s not possible to do.
Make sure to add plastic or wool dryer balls. These balls would bounce around the dryer and prevent the fabric from clumping and rubbing against itself, which would help control pilling. The movement of these balls would help to lessen the static cling which is an issue with flannel most of the time.
Try not to iron the flannel. If you are like ‘’but I have hopelessly wrinkled flannel shirts always’’ then turn it inside out and start pressing it on a cool setting. Next, slowly turn up the heat until the iron is just hot enough to get rid of the wrinkles.
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