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10 Simple Steps to Soften Acrylic Yarn with Fabric Softener


Acrylic yarn is a versatile and budget-friendly material widely used in knitting and crochet projects. Despite its many benefits, it often lacks the softness of natural fibers. Luckily, you can soften acrylic yarn with fabric softener, making your handmade items cozier and more pleasant to the touch.

What is Acrylic Yarn?

Characteristics of Acrylic Yarn

Acrylic yarn is a synthetic fiber made from polymers. It is known for its durability, ease of care, and wide availability in various colors and weights. Unlike natural fibers, acrylic yarn is resistant to pests and mold, making it a practical choice for everyday projects.

Uses of Acrylic Yarn

Crafters use acrylic yarn for a variety of projects, including blankets, scarves, hats, and toys. Its affordability makes it ideal for large projects or for those who are new to knitting and crochet.

Advantages and Disadvantages

While acrylic yarn is durable and easy to care for, it can feel stiff and scratchy compared to natural fibers. This is where softening techniques, such as using fabric softener, come into play to enhance its texture.

Why Soften Acrylic Yarn?

Benefits of Softening

Softening acrylic yarn can significantly improve the comfort and drape of your finished projects. Softer yarn is gentler on the skin, making it ideal for wearable items like sweaters and scarves.

Improved Feel

By softening acrylic yarn, you can achieve a texture that rivals that of natural fibers, enhancing the overall quality and appeal of your handmade items.

Better Drape

Softened yarn drapes more naturally, allowing your projects to hang beautifully and move with fluidity.

Related ReadingHow to Make Acrylic Yarn Less Fuzzy After You Use It

Methods to Soften Acrylic Yarn

Overview of Techniques

There are several methods to soften acrylic yarn, including using fabric softener, vinegar, and even steam blocking. Each technique has its own set of benefits and is suitable for different types of projects.

Pros and Cons

Using fabric softener is one of the most effective and straightforward methods. However, it is important to use it correctly to avoid damaging the yarn or leaving a residue.

Choosing the Right Fabric Softener

Types of Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners come in liquid, sheet, and dryer ball forms. For softening yarn, liquid fabric softener is usually the most effective.

What to Look For

When selecting a fabric softener, look for one that is gentle and designed for sensitive skin. Avoid those with heavy perfumes or dyes, as they can leave a residue on the yarn.

Eco-friendly Options

Consider using eco-friendly fabric softeners that are biodegradable and free from harmful chemicals. These are better for the environment and gentler on your projects.

Preparing Your Workspace

Materials Needed

  • Acrylic yarn
  • Liquid fabric softener
  • Large basin or sink
  • Towel
  • Mild detergent (optional)
  • Water

Safety Precautions

Ensure that you are working in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves if you have sensitive skin. Avoid using hot water, as it can damage the acrylic fibers.

Step-by-Step Guide

Detailed Steps

  1. Pre-wash the Yarn: Begin by pre-washing the yarn to remove any dirt or manufacturing residues. Fill a basin with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Gently swish the yarn in the water and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Dilute Fabric Softener: In another basin, mix one part liquid fabric softener with three parts lukewarm water. Stir gently to combine.
  3. Soak the Yarn: Submerge the pre-washed yarn in the fabric softener solution. Ensure that all parts of the yarn are evenly covered. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse the Yarn: After soaking, rinse the yarn thoroughly with lukewarm water until all the fabric softener is removed.
  5. Dry the Yarn: Lay the yarn flat on a towel and roll it up to remove excess water. Unroll and reshape the yarn, then let it air dry completely.

Tips and Tricks

  • Avoid wringing or twisting the yarn, as this can cause it to stretch or tangle.
  • Use a drying rack or mesh screen for faster and more even drying.

Pre-washing the Yarn

Importance of Pre-washing

Pre-washing helps to remove any chemicals or residues that may be present on the yarn from the manufacturing process. This ensures that the fabric softener can penetrate the fibers more effectively.

How to Pre-wash

Use a mild detergent and lukewarm water to gently wash the yarn. Be careful not to agitate the yarn too much to avoid felting or tangling.

Applying Fabric Softener

Dilution Ratios

The recommended dilution ratio for fabric softener is one part softener to three parts water. This ensures that the softener is not too concentrated, which could leave a residue on the yarn.

Application Methods

Immerse the yarn completely in the diluted fabric softener solution, ensuring all parts are evenly saturated. For large projects, you may need to soak in batches.

Rinsing and Drying

Proper Techniques

Rinse the yarn thoroughly to remove all traces of fabric softener. Use lukewarm water and be gentle to avoid damaging the fibers.

Avoiding Damage

Do not wring or twist the yarn. Instead, gently squeeze out excess water and lay the yarn flat to dry. This helps to maintain the yarn’s shape and integrity.

Alternative Softening Techniques


White vinegar is a natural fabric softener and can be used to soften acrylic yarn. Add a cup of vinegar to the rinse water and soak the yarn for 30 minutes.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can also be used to soften yarn. Add a few tablespoons to the wash water and let the yarn soak before rinsing thoroughly.

Steam Blocking

Steam blocking is another effective method. Hold a steam iron above the yarn and let the steam penetrate the fibers, being careful not to touch the yarn directly with the iron.

Common Mistakes to Avoid


  • Using hot water, which can damage the fibers
  • Using too much fabric softener, which can leave a residue
  • Agitating the yarn too much, causing it to tangle or stretch

How to Fix Errors

If you notice a residue on the yarn, rinse it again with lukewarm water. If the yarn has stretched, gently reshape it while wet and allow it to dry flat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take to soften acrylic yarn with fabric softener?It typically takes about an hour, including soaking and rinsing time.

Can I repeat the softening process?Yes, if the yarn is still not soft enough, you can repeat the process as needed.

Is it safe to use fabric softener on all acrylic yarns?Most acrylic yarns can be safely softened with fabric softener, but always check the care instructions on the label.

What if my yarn has a strong smell after softening?Rinse the yarn thoroughly and let it air out. The smell should dissipate as it dries.

Can I use dryer sheets to soften acrylic yarn?Dryer sheets can be used, but they are less effective than liquid fabric softener for this purpose.

Will softening acrylic yarn change its color?No, properly softening acrylic yarn should not change its color.


acrylic yarn is a versatile and cost-effective material used in various knitting and crochet projects. However, it may lack the softness of natural fibers, which can be a drawback for some crafters. Fortunately, there are methods available to soften acrylic yarn, such as using fabric softener, vinegar, or steam blocking. These techniques can significantly improve the texture, comfort, and drape of the finished projects. It is important to follow the proper procedures and safety precautions to achieve the best results without damaging the yarn. With the right softening method, acrylic yarn can be transformed into a cozier and more pleasant material for handmade items.

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