Washing Scratchy Yarns

Months ago I saw a cool photo tutorial on washing scratchy yarns to make them softer by A Girl and her Needle. Like the blogger, Charmain, I absolutely love acrylic yarns. They are durable and cost effective, and you can really get some beautifully bright colors now (something I absolutely love).

Some brands are really nice and soft, while others can be pretty scratchy. Generally I use those scratchier yarns for things like accessories and some toys, depending on where it will be placed. Like most people, I don't like to use them for my hats or child items because of the unfavorable feel of them. This tutorial really opened my eyes and is bringing a whole new life to some of that unfavorable yarn I have in my stash.

I have a bunch of old scratchy yarn still hanging around in my stash. Most of it is from older projects and not being able to afford nicer yarn at the time. Well, a few weeks ago there was a charity hat project that I wanted to participate in (a little late now though) and I happened to have this green yarn that was needed as a required color, but I hated that it was scratchy so of course I never made my hats. After finally remembering this tutorial and buying a laundry bag, I decided to test it out for myself. 

So, here is the tutorial and my thoughts on it.  You'll also find some tips and tricks at the end.

:: Tutorial ::

What you'll need is your yarn of course, a laundry/lingerie bag, and your normal washer and dryer.  I found a 3 pack of laundry bags that are just the right size for a skein of yarn at my local Dollar Tree.  If you don't have any laundry bags, an old pair of nylons tied on the ends will also work.

Pull the labels off of your yarn so they don't get all wet and clogged in your yarn.  Now you want to loosen up the layers of the yarn by pulling on it.  I pulled along the sides and also got down into the center and gently pulled within as well.  Don't forget to loosen up the ends, but not too much because you don't want it to completely unravel.

Once you have it loosened up, close it up in the laundry bag. If you have more than one skein of yarn, I suggest using separate bags for each skein.

Throw the bag of yarn in the washing machine with a load of laundry of like colors! If you happen to have a bunch of yarn bags I suppose you could wash them all together, but if you have only one like me then you'll need more. Washing it with clothes is what will help to agitate it and get it to soften up.

Wash it like normal, with detergent and whatever. When the wash is done I suggest putting it in the dryer. Air drying probably isn't the best idea because it would take the layers on the inside much longer to dry.

Even after an hour in my dryer the center of this skein was still a little damp.  I decided that it was dry enough to allow it to air dry the rest of the way.  And that's it!  You should have a softer yarn!

:: My Thoughts ::

I used a skein of Red Heart Super Saver (RH SS) for this project. Anyone who has ever used this yarn knows it can be pretty scratchy (even though I've seen a few skeins that are softer lately). 

The washing process did soften it up, but I wouldn't say it was amazingly soft or anything. I generally buy I Love This Yarn from Hobby Lobby and their acrylic yarn is SUPER SOFT, but I wouldn't say that a washed skein of RH SS was as soft as that. 

There are times when I end up buying RH SS because the store might be out of my yarn or because it's the color I really want, and in those instances I would definitely use this washing technique. 

I wouldn't say that I'm going to start running out and buying cheaper, scratchy yarns just because I can now make them soft, but I can rest easy knowing that if I have to buy a scratchy yarn that I can wash it.

:: Tips & Tricks ::

If you have more than one skein of yarn I suggest using separate bags for each skein. On my facebook I had a nice lady tell me that she has had problems with the yarn tangling. If your yarn tangles, or if you have larger laundry bags, you can wrap each skein in an old pair of nylon pantyhose and knot the end. 

Don't unravel the yarn too much or it will tangle, even if it's in the bag by itself. I washed a second skein and did just that. It tangled up badly and it took me FOREVER to untangle it.

I used an older skein of yarn that I had already used and even unraveled and just wrapped back around the skein. You don't want the yarn to be tightly wrapped around the skein so make sure to wrap it back around loosely. This will still allow it to fluff up nicely in the wash without constricting the inner layer.

I've thought about washing it a second time to see if it will soften up even more. If I do that then I will let you all know how it turns out!

If you've done this before then tell us how it turned out for you!  :D

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