Soaking Clothes In Salt Water (everything you need to know)

People have been soaking their clothes in salt water for 100s of years and with good reason. There are several benefits to giving your clothes a saltwater soak.

To find out what those benefits are and exactly how to soak your clothes in salt water for best results, keep reading.

What Are The Benefits Of Soaking Clothes In Salt Water?

There are several benefits to be had by soaking your clothes in salt water, which are;

  • The removal of wrinkles
    The salt water will break down any proteins in the fabric which will help remove wrinkles. Which means soaking your clothes in a salt water solution can eradicate the need for ironing.
  • The softening of the fabric
    As the salt water breaks down the proteins in the fabric it makes the clothes softer. Soaking your clothes in salt water means you won’t need to use a fabric softener.
  • The removal of stains
    Soaking dirty clothes in a saltwater solution will break down most dirts and stains that could potentially leave a mark or stain on your clothes.

And the best part? You can use most types of salt, including table salt.

If possible, use kosher salt or pickling salt as these types of salt will leave less residue than regular table salt will.

Oh and it only takes around 30 minutes…


The Best Ways To Soak Clothes In Salt Water

The secret to getting great results from soaking clothes in saltwater depends on the length of time you soak them and exactly how you soak them too. 

To reap the benefits of soaking your clothes in salt water just follow these easy to follow guides.

How To Soak Clothes To Remove Stains

In many cases soaking clothes in a saltwater solution is all you’ll need to do to remove those stubborn, ingrained stains. To remove stains from clothes using a salt water solution all you need to do is;

  1. Mix  ¾ cup (255 g) salt into a 1 gallon (4.5 litres) bucket of cold water
  2. Stir until all of the salt has dissolved
  3. Submerge the clothing in the saltwater solution and allow to soak for around 30 minutes
  4. Remove the clothes from the bucket and put them in the washing machine
  5. Wash the soaked clothes in the usual way

How To Soften Clothes & Remove Wrinkles In Saltwater

To soften clothes and remove wrinkles from your clothes, all you need to do is;

  1. Mix ½ cup (170 g) of salt into 2 pints (1.2 litres) of warm water
  2. Stir until all of the salt has dissolved
  3. Submerge the clothing and ensure all air bubbles are removed
  4. Soak overnight, then place the clothes in a washing machine and wash in the usual way

For both of the above methods we recommend giving the clothes an extra rinse to ensure all traces of salt have been removed. 

Please note: Soaking clothes in saltwater for too long can cause the clothes to shrink. 

There are some stains that need completely different treatments. For instance, if the garment has a red wine or grape juice stain it should be soaked in a cold saltwater solution.

Whereas a grease or oil stain should be soaked in a hot salt water solution.

In both of the above the recommended soak time is 30 minutes followed by washing in your washing machine in the usual way.

Ways To Prevent Damage To Clothes While Soaking In Saltwater

You do need to be careful when soaking clothes in a saltwater solution to prevent any unwanted damage to the clothes. To prevent any unwanted and unnecessary damage to your clothes when using a saltwater soak you should;

  • Never use too much salt
    Always stick to the stated amount of salt whenever making a saltwater solution for soaking your clothes. This is because using too much salt can lead to the fabric becoming stiff and wearing out faster. Too little and you’ve wasted your time as too little salt results in no changes to the clothes, stains will remain and the clothes will not feel any softer at all (¾ cup of salt to 1 gallon of water for removing stains and ½ a cup of salt to 2 pints of water for removing wrinkles).
  • Never Use Hot Water For Removing Stains
    Always use cold water when making a saltwater solution to soak clothes for stain removal. This is because using hot water can actually set the stains into the fabric which makes them more difficult to remove. This is not a problem with cold water soaks.
  • Always wash the clothes immediately after removing them from a saltwater soak
    Soaking your clothes in a saltwater solution is beneficial for the removal of stubborn stains, wrinkles and to soften the fabric. However, allowing the salt to dry onto the clothes can cause salt staining and turn the fabric hard and rough. This is why you should always wash the clothes as soon as the soak is finished to remove all traces of the salt.
  • Refresh the saltwater regularly when trying to remove stains
    When soaking clothes in saltwater to remove stubborn stains, you should aim to replace the saltwater solution every 30 minutes or so. This is because the salt will dissolve the stain from the clothes but it can also set stains on clothes. So unless the dirty water is removed and replaced regularly you could be fighting a losing battle.

SEE ALSO: How To Make Socks White Again

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you soak clothes in salt water?

You should soak clothes in salt water for around 30 minutes.

Can salt water damage clothes?

Salt water can weaken the fibres of some materials and cause them to rip, tear or holes to appear in them. Which is why you should always rinse any items that have been soaked in saltwater thoroughly.

What happens if clothes are soaked in saltwater for too long?

If clothes are soaked in saltwater for too long, they can become damaged. The fibres of the material can weaken which will leave the clothes prone to ripping, tearing or becoming holey.

Can soaking clothes in saltwater remove wrinkles?

Soaking clothes in saltwater can remove wrinkles. As the clothes soak, the fibres soften which can remove wrinkles from the clothes.

Does soaking clothes in saltwater cause them to shrink?

If you leave your clothes soaking in saltwater for too long it can cause certain materials to shrink.

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