How to Wash Flannel


A. Clemons asked: What is the proper way to wash flannel shirts? I have several flannel shirts that I wear around the house, and they do not look soft. Also, I do not wear them very often. Probably, I have not washed or dried them properly. Maybe you can help me out. Thanks so much.

Flannel fabric provides a warm, soft material that is used for a variety of items. It requires some simple cleaning steps to ensure that the fabric stays soft and touchable, the way it was intended. Here are the proper cleaning methods, whether you’re washing flannel shirts, sheets, blankets or other items.

You Will Need:

  • Mild detergent (ex: Woolite)
  • Warm water
  • Fabric softener/dryer sheets

Steps to Wash Flannel:

  1. Fill the washing machine with warm water. Do NOT wash flannel in hot water.
  2. Add the appropriate amount of a mild detergent. Regular detergent can be used, but may cause the flannel to fade over time. Harsh detergents or those with bleach additives or alternatives should be avoided.
  3. Wash the flannel on the permanent press or gentle cycle, depending on the item. It is best to keep the water temperature consistent, warm wash and warm rinse.
  4. Add a fabric softener to the rinse cycle. If you don’t use fabric softener in your washing machine, a dryer sheet can be added to the drying cycle.
  5. Flannel can be hung to dry or machine dried. If machine drying, remove promptly once the piece is dry. Do not overdry the item or it will weaken the fabric. Drying on low heat helps to keep the fabric in good condition for a longer time.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Check the label prior to washing any flannel item. If it is made of wool flannel, it will require special cleaning, usually done by a professional cleaner.
  • Flannels have a tendency to shed and should be washed with like colors. If the shedding is a problem, try adding one half cup of vinegar to the wash cycle.
  • If the flannel is losing its softness, it could be the result of softener build up. Try washing without adding fabric softener to the water and drying without a dryer sheet. Also, running an extra rinse cycle will remove any residue that can cause the fabric to feel stiff.
  • While flannel is known for being soft, there are different qualities of flannel. Choose your pieces carefully as some, though still flannel, are a lower grade and do not have the same softness as a higher quality piece.
  • Flannel will create lint in the dryer, be sure to empty your lint trap after each load.
  • Even the best flannel will wear out overtime and become thin and lose its softness. Enjoy it and take care of it while it lasts, but be prepared to replace older pieces.

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