Tips For Making Your Fave Itchy Sweater Less Irritating

Fall weather is nearly upon us, and while that brings out all sorts of pumpkin spice goodness, it also requires one to rotate the closet accordingly. Everyone has at least one sweater with the perfect color, fit, and style, but too often it also brings an itchiness factor that simply can't be ignored. This is especially true for those fashionistas with perpetually sensitive skin, as they're more likely to be bothered by the litany of materials used to make the average sweater. Wool and nylon are common offenders, but other fabric types can certainly cause irritation. This is especially true for people with common skin problems like eczema, according to Baptist Health. Many people have straight-up allergies to such materials (and more often than not, the ingredients they're treated with), according to New York Allergy and Sinus Centers, so if you notice that hives pop up whenever you wear a particular garment, it's probably best to check the label and steer clear of similar fabrics in the future because chances are high that a true allergy isn't going anywhere.  


That said, plenty of people just get a little bit itchy in the average sweater. If that's the case with your favorite piece, there are some helpful hacks that could actually make the sweater more pleasant to wear. So don't donate it just yet — there's still hope!

Freeze it

Some types of wool, like merino, don't irritate people as often because the weave of the natural fiber is tighter than in other types of wool. When the overlap of the fibers is longer, it rubs against the skin more aggressively, causing irritation and all of the itchiness that comes along with it. Fortunately, there's an easy enough solution to this problem, and all it requires is a plastic bag and a common household appliance.


To tighten the weave of an irritating wool sweater, place it in a plastic bag and put it in the kitchen freezer. Set a timer and retrieve the sweater after about three to four hours. Then, place the garment in a shady spot (NOT in the sun) until it defrosts. This should result in a reconditioned sweater with a tighter weave and a softer touch. Incidentally, this is also a great hack for sweaters that have stretched out or otherwise lost their shape over time.

Soak it

White vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that's often used for its disinfectant superpower, but it can also help to soften up itchy sweaters in a hurry. Simply fill up the sink or a very large bowl with enough cold water to cover the sweater (about one-quarter of a gallon or one liter). Before adding the garment, however, stir in a cup or so of white vinegar. Then place the sweater in the mixture and allow it to soak for about 15 minutes. Drain the sink.


Because white vinegar has a somewhat unpleasant aroma, it's important to further treat the sweater. Use a small amount of hair conditioner or shampoo and massage the substance into the sweater. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse it out thoroughly with cold running water. Once it's all out, gently press any remaining water out of the sweater, taking special care not to stretch or otherwise distort the garment. Next, set out a thick towel and place the sweater on top of it to dry (nice and flat). Once it's dry, put it in a plastic bag and then pop it into the freezer, following the previous steps.   

Condition it

Wool is a natural fiber, so it only makes sense that it should be treated similarly to human hair in order to turn out the best possible texture. After all, most people's hair would be quite a fright without regular conditioning to keep it in check! To use this method, first machine or hand wash the garment in cold water on a gentle cycle, using an equally gentle detergent. Then, remove the sweater and spread some hair conditioner throughout. Allow your sweater to sit for about 30 minutes, then thoroughly rinse it in cold water. Remove any excess water by gently squeezing the wool or rolling it up in a towel. Lastly, set it out to dry. Once it's completely dry, try it on and marvel over the texture change. If it's still not quite up to snuff, repeat as needed until the desired softness factor is achieved.


Soften it

Glycerin is another great option for softening scratchy sweaters. The substance is a known humectant, which means that it absorbs water and helps keep things nice and moist, per WebMD. In fact, glycerin is so good at this job that it's often used to help achieve softer skin and hair. Glycerin is so effective that it's a common ingredient in many products you already use, however, it can also be purchased in pure form.


To use glycerin to make a sweater less itchy, add a tablespoon of the good stuff to a basin of water, along with whatever gentle handwashing soap you generally use. Gently work it in by hand and when you're confident that the entire sweater is treated, rinse it out with cold water, then carefully squeeze it dry. You can even add a bit of fabric softener during the rinsing portion for extra oomph. Then, rinse that out and set the garment out to dry.

Layer it

If none of the methods above work and your favorite sweater is still itchy as can be, it's probably time to resort to light layers to make it wearable. This can be done in a number of ways to be invisible or make the ensemble extra stylish. To wear the sweater in its purest form, don a camisole or lightweight, long-sleeved shirt underneath. This will have the added benefit of smoothing out any unsightly lumps and bumps made by undergarments. 


To level up the look, layer the sweater atop a crisp white button-up shirt. This will give off retro preppy vibes that never go out of style. Or mix and match with a collared shirt in a coordinating color or print to jazz it up a bit. No matter which style you choose, the important thing will be that you never gave up on your favorite fall sweater!