How to Soften Stiff Work Pants

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Whether sophisticated office slacks or heavy-duty dungarees are more your speed, a stiff pair of work pants can send your career productivity careening into the slow lane. Discomfort at work distracts from daily duties, transforming what might have been a happening look on the rack to haute horror in practice. Transform your factory-new pants, flush with stiffening chemicals and yet to succumb to the softening effect of everyday wear, to like-old shape without the work.

Step 1

Place 1 teaspoon of mild detergent and the work pants into the washing machine. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid fabric softener and 1 teaspoon of water to the dispenser.

Step 2

Set the machine to a hot wash cycle, if allowed by the washing instructions on the pants tag, to break down any chemical residue in the fabric. Otherwise, run a cold cycle.

Step 3

Repeat the wash, this time adding 1/4 cup of vinegar during the final rinse cycle.

Step 4

Place the pants into the clothes dryer, if allowed by tag instructions. Add a fabric softener sheet and set the machine to low heat. Dry the pants halfway and then wear them until they are completely dry to break them in.

Step 5

Put a pair of clean sneakers into a mesh laundry bag and add it to the clothes dryer, along with the pants, if they have not yet softened as much as you would like. Set the machine to a regular dry cycle to "beat" the material softer.

Step 6

Lay the pants over an ironing board and cover them with a damp cloth. Set the iron to a low heat and iron over the cloth to relax the fibers of stubborn fabrics that remain stiff even after laundering.

Step 7

Fill the reservoir of a handheld garment steamer with water and then set the steamer to a low setting if ironing did not soften the work pants to your satisfaction. Drape the pants on a clothes hanger and angle the steamer nozzle toward the fabric to remove wrinkles and relax the fabric.

Step 8

Repeat the washing, drying and steaming as many times as necessary to soften the pants.