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How to Soften Red Heart Yarn: Complete Guide (2023)

Red Heart is one of the most popular yarn brands on the market right now, and it seems to have the crafting community divided. Those who like it, absolutely swear by it. On the other hand, those who aren’t fans of Red Heart yarn seem to have one complaint in common – its fibers tend to be quite stiff. If you have a ball of Red Heart yarn but find it too rough to work with, don’t worry. You won’t have to spend an arm and a leg for a softer, natural-fiber alternative. All you need to do is learn how to soften Red Heart yarn.

Supplies Needed to Soften Red Heart Yarn

There are several different methods for softening acrylic yarn such as Red Heart, and the exact materials you’ll need will depend on your method of choice. For the softening technique we’re describing in this article, you’ll need the following supplies:

- A ball (or finished project) of the yarn you want to soften

- A tub or bowl big enough to fit the yarn

- Water

- Vinegar

- Conditioner

How to Soften Red Heart Yarn: Step by Step

Before we get down to business, we have a quick note. If you’re softening a ball of yarn, rather than a finished project, you will first have to take a couple of preparatory steps. Namely, you might have to unravel your ball and make a hank of yarn instead. This will ensure that even the fibers on the inside get enough of a soak to soften.

Now that you have all your supplies ready, let’s jump into it.

Step 1: Fill a Bowl With Cool Water

Fill your bowl or tub with cool water. There should be enough water to completely cover your skein of yarn or finished project. The water should be cold, but not freezing. Some methods call for warm, rather than cool water in this step. Although you can do this, we recommend giving cold water a go first, so as not to ruin your yarn.

Step 2: Add Vinegar

Add vinegar to the bowl at the ratio 1-4. In other words, for every four cups of water, add one cup of vinegar. And don’t worry – your yarn won’t come out reeking of vinegar after the softening process. The steps we’ll take a little later will make sure of that.

Step 3: Soak the Red Heart Yarn

Now, it’s time to let your yarn soak in the water and vinegar mixture. You should soak the yarn for at least 20 minutes, but if you have the time, feel free to extend this period. Some crafters will even leave the yarn to soak overnight.

The soak will open up the fibers, making it easier for them to soak and soften. On the other hand, vinegar has color-locking properties, making sure that the color of your yarn doesn’t fade while soaking.

Step 4: Drain and Rinse

Once 20 minutes (or longer) have passed, slowly pour the water-vinegar mixture out of the bowl or drain the tub. Be careful not to damage or drop the yarn in the process. Once the mixture has been drained, it’s time to gently rinse the yarn, again with cool water.

Always keep in mind that you should be as gentle as possible when handling your yarn or project. Don’t rub it while rinsing it off. Rather, gently squeeze to get rid of any excess water, and don’t be worried about your yarn being too damp. It needs a little moisture for the next step, anyway. Also, if your yarn smells like vinegar at this point, don’t worry. The conditioner should take care of that.

Step 5: Use Conditioner

Use a couple of squirts or sprays of a regular hair conditioner. You can either spray it directly on the yarn or project or rub it in with your hands. Once you’re satisfied that there’s enough conditioner on your hank or project, let it sit and soak. Once again, this soak should be at least around 30 minutes long, but the longer, the better.

After enough time has passed, once again rinse the yarn with cool water. You can also rub it gently to ensure all of the conditioner comes out, but remember not to be too rough. This step will likely take some patience, but rushing it can result in ruined yarn.

Step 6: Hang the Yarn to Dry

Finally, it’s time to dry your yarn. If you’ve been softening a hank of unused yarn, you can hang it to dry using regular clothes hangers. However, if you’ve been softening a finished project, hanging it might change the shape of the piece due to gravity pulling on it. In that case, a better idea would be to block your yarn piece using some pins and a blocking mat.

In either case, refrain from simply tossing your yarn in the dryer if time permits it. While this is a time-efficient method for drying your yarn, it could also break down the fibers and ruin your yarn or project. If you don’t have the time to wait for the whole thing to air dry, make sure you use the mildest setting on your clothes dryer.


After taking all the steps for yarn softening described above, you should be left with vibrant, quality, yet soft-to-touch Red Heart yarn adequate for all kinds of projects. Check out our free and paid Red Heart patterns to give your newly softened yarn a go!