Dear Home-Ec 101,
First off I just have to say I love ur site, as a 27 year-old, first time parent it has been a lifesaver. Really wish they would teach these things like they used to in schools. Once had a friend throw away a brand new pair of pants because they and their mom couldn’t sew on a button, I mean really!
Anyway here’s my question:
My aunt gave me some jeans, for my husband. They are so starched from the cleaners that they really stand on their own. Can’t even get a leg through them. Tried washing them a bunch but still can’t seem to get the starch out. Called my aunt to see if she had any ideas, turns out she has been trying for months that’s why she gave them to me. LOL Said she took them to the cleaners one day and that’s how she got them back. Any ideas would be nice, hate to get rid of 12 or so perfectly good jeans.
Stiff-legged in Stillwater
Your question is very interesting. Laundry starch should be water soluble. This means that it should dissolve in water.
Corn starch is actually more soluble in cold water than hot, it has to do with the structure of the starch chains and how that changes with temperature.
I talked it over with my good friend Jenn Fowler of Frugal Upstate and here’s what we brainstormed:
Wash the jeans in your washer on cold and add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse. Make sure you set the washer to agitate for as long as possible. Hopefully the combination of cold water and physical agitation will break up some of those long chains of starches, making the jeans more pliable.
Don’t overload your washer, only do a few pairs at a time, especially if these are jeans for a bigger guy, you want a lot of room for the jeans to move around. Also, leave the load setting on Large to ensure there’s a lot of water for the starch to dissolve into.
If you don’t have dryer balls (what am I 12? That just makes me giggle) toss a couple of tennis balls into your dryer and tumble dry. I know it’s not the greenest choice to use a dryer, but line drying does cause fabrics to feel more stiff.
I have seen suggestions to use cheap shampoo or conditioner on new jeans to help soften them, but I have not tried this although I can sort of see the theory behind the idea. I would only try this if the jeans were about to go in the donation or trash pile.
How about it, Home Ec Readers, what would you suggest?
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