Acrylic yarn is a type of synthetic fiber that is made from a polymer called polyacrylonitrile. It is often used in knitting and crocheting because it is inexpensive and easy to care for. Most fiber artists find Acrylic Yarn to be softer than wools or alpaca, however depending on the sensitivities of who you are intending to knit or crochet for, or even for your own comfort you may want to soften the yarn.
When some yarn is milled, it has a coating on it to protect the fibers and keep the structure during the knitting or crochet process. Often this is what you want to remove when softening the yarn. So if you can, soften it after you have finished the item and preferably during the blocking process.
Luckily, there are easy ways to soften up your yarn if you choose to. All you need is a skein of yarn (or your ready-made project), some warm water, and a little bit of time.
How to Soften Yarn Before Using It (in a Skein)
To soften your yarn, start by fluffing the skein with your fingers. You don’t have to break the skein apart, but do loosen it up a little bit so the water can get through. Next, remove the wrap, and put the skein in a lingerie bag or preferably in some nylons/panty hose to maintain the skeins integrity as much as possible. Then submerge it in warm water, make sure that the water is not too hot, as this can damage the fibers of your yarn.
Let it soak for 10-15 minutes, then gently squeeze out the excess water. You can then roll the skein in a towel to remove any remaining moisture.
You can also opt to put the skein in the dryer with a dryer sheet. Be warned, however, that the spinning pressure may cause your yarn to loosen and tangle up. If you don't want to end up with a tangled mess that you have to undo, opt to air dry your skein instead.
Does Acrylic Yarn Get Softer After Washing?
Acrylic yarn is a type of synthetic fiber that is often used to make clothing and other items. While it is not as soft as natural fibers like wool, it can be made softer with washing or soaking. If you follow the steps above, your yarn should be much softer and more pliable after it dries.
How to Soften Acrylic Crochet Projects After It is Done
Once you've finished crocheting a project made with acrylic yarn, you'll want to take some steps to soften it up so the fabric is not stiff and scratchy.
Blocking is a simple process that can help to soften your crochet projects and mold them into the shape you prefer. You shouldn't need to block your acrylic projects, but blocking can help if there are any mistakes, or if something doesn't turn out quite right. It's often a last ditch effort for some crafters with a few exceptions like intricate granny squares.
To block your crochet project, first wet it thoroughly with cool water. You can do this by submerging it in a sink or bowl or spraying it with a spray bottle. Once your project is wet, squeeze out any excess water and lay it flat on a towel.
Next, depending on the project use pins or a blocking board to secure your project in the shape that you want it to be. For example, if you are blocking a square or rIf you are trying to block a garment or a atypical shaped project you may want to use pins and a blocking mat. Once you get your project is pinned, measure your piece and make sure it is pinned in a way to fit correctly use a gauge ruler to help, when finished measuring allow it to air dry completely. When your project dries, remove the pins and enjoy your soft, comfortable crochet creation!
Soften Acrylic Yarn with Fabric Softener
You can also soften up stiff and scratchy acrylic yarn with fabric softener.
Simply add a capful or two of fabric softener to a bowl of lukewarm water. Swish the item around in the water for a few minutes, then allow it to soak for 15-20 minutes. Finally, rinse off the soap and hang your project to air dry. Your fabric will be much softer and more pleasant to wear or use!
Use Vinegar to Soften Acrylic Yarn
To use vinegar to soften acrylic yarn, start by soaking your project in a bowl of lukewarm water and white vinegar. The ratio of water to vinegar should be about 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Let the item soak for at least 30 minutes, or up to a few hours if it is really stiff.
After soaking, rinse your project well in cool water to remove the vinegar smell. Then, lay it out flat to dry. Once it is dry, you should notice that your acrylic yarn is much softer. If you find that your project is still a bit stiff after soaking and drying, you can try gently heating it with a hair dryer on the low setting.
Hold the hair dryer about 6 inches away from your project and wave it back and forth until the yarn is warm to the touch. Once it's warmed up, it should be much more pliable.
Softening Yarn with Conditioner
To soften yarn with conditioner, start by soaking your project in warm water. Then, add a little bit of conditioner to the yarn and thoroughly massage it into the material, add more conditioner if needed. Let the item sit for at least 15 minutes, then rinse it well with warm water. Gently squeeze the excess water from the yarn, and then let it air dry.
Use Steam for Softening
If your acrylic yarn project is feeling a bit too stiff, you can use steam to soften it up and make it more pliable.
To use steam to soften your acrylic yarn, start by filling a pot with water and bringing it to a boil. Then, hold your project over the steam for a few minutes. You can also place the item in a basket or bag and hold it over the steam if you prefer. After a few minutes, remove the item from the steam and gently squeeze it to remove any excess water. Leave it out to air dry for a couple of hours.
You can also use a steam iron to make the process easier. Just make sure to avoid touching the fabric with the steamer or using a setting that is too high to avoid melting the acrylic yarn.
Use Higher Quality Yarn
While there are ways you can soften up acrylic yarn, you can avoid the trouble by choosing higher-quality yarn that is soft instead of scratchy. Plenty of manufacturers have made better efforts to produce more pliable acrylic yarn options. We have a whole collection of them you can take a look at:
What is the Best Way To Soften Scratchy Acrylic Yarn?
There are so many ways you can soften acrylic yarn — and most of them only require a couple of household items and some patience. Blocking, or using fabric softeners, vinegar, conditioners, and steam, all work well in softening acrylic yarn and getting rid of the scratchy and even itchy sensation you get when wearing your projects.
Among all of them, however, the easiest method is to steam your acrylic yarn fabric using a steam iron. It’s the fastest option, not requiring you to soak your project and wait for it to dry, which could take a couple of hours to days.
While steam softening does not exactly soften your yarn permanently, it’s easy and fast enough for you to do as often as you like. The steam also produces a fabric that has a bit more drape, which allows it to fall more naturally. It’s a method that hits two birds with one stone — softening your project and making it look less creased and wrinkled.