Test pilot: Softening a T-shirt with vinegar



After my first attempt to soften a T-shirt, by soaking it in salt water, I vowed to repeat the process once to see the results. Which were basically nothing. After its second time in the brine, the Wood shirt had faded in color and was slightly smoother to the touch, but nothing that I would consider a success.

So I decided to try the acid test—literally. What would happen if I soaked the shirt in, instead of a saline solution, an acidic one?

Same shirt, same container, same weighted rock, but 1 cup vinegar in a quart of water. As luck would have it, I forgot about my experiment for a week, so the acid had plenty of time to work its magic.

One item I hadn’t taken into consideration: Distilled white vinegar is only somewhere between 5–8% acid, so the cup-to-quart ratio knocked its concentration far lower. (Like 1%? Math is hard.) Would that be potent enough to work any magic?

The answer: no. I briefly considered trying the process again using straight vinegar — you can buy it by the gallon, it’s inexpensive! — but eventually decided to try a new method instead: Throwing the shirt in with every single load of laundry that gets washed and dried at Casa Flor. I’m going to WEAR IT OUT.

WHAT SAM WORE: 7-19-13
shirt071913 pants071913 shoes110811
The shirt: Cotton polo by J. Lindeberg,
from Neiman Marcus Last Call, Potomac Mills, Va.
The pants: Cotton trousers from Uniqlo, New York.
The shoes: Monk-strap loafers by Charles Tyrwhitt,
on clearance at the store in New York.

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