Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fact or Fiction? Softening Denim with Coke


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Several years ago I heard a tip that you can use Coke to soften denim. In fact, there was a discussion about this on Stitcher's Guild. The results were mixed - it seemed to work well for some lengths of denim, minimally for some, and not at all for others.

I have a 4-yard length of cotton denim that had been machine washed and dried numerous times. It was still a bit "crispy", so I decided to give this technique a try, using my "old fashioned" top-loading washing machine.

I acquired 3 12-oz cans of regular Coke. I set the machine for the smallest load, and selected the warm temperature. I did not use any detergent. Once the machine filled, I added the Coke. I tossed in the denim and let the machine agitate for 5 minutes. (I set a timer.) I then opened the lid of the machine, interrupting the cycle, and went to work, letting the fabric marinate.

When I returned home about 10 hours later, I closed the lid on the machine, letting the process complete. After the load finished, I put the fabric into the dryer.

(I first smelled the fabric and did not detect any soda smell. I then licked the fabric and it did not taste at all like soda, so I did not wash it again.)

The fabric was not softened in any way.

This was a bit disappointing, but I would try it again (with a different fabric) since I hear it does work in some situations.

Have you tried this technique?

Did it work?

22 comments:

  1. Another urban legend squashed!

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  2. Bummer for you, Shams. It has worked for me on several pieces of denim. Turned them from cardboard to soft.

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  3. It worked wonderfully for me with 100%cotton denim but not with cotton/poly/lycra blend .

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  4. Oh that stinks!! I heard this worked too!! I guess I wont try it. Maybe White vinegar will work??

    http://sewingmelissa.blogspot.com/

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  5. It is completely hilarious that you licked your fabric. The things we're willing to try ... ! Too bad the soda didn't work, that would have been a really handy treatment.

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    1. LOL. I was wondering if anyone would call me out on that one.

      The fabric didn't taste very yummy. Not.at.all. ;)

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    2. I wasn't surprised considering that I lick the ash in burn tests for the sweet taste of polyester. ;-)
      http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2014/03/simplicity-2339.html

      So, is the coke supposed to "acid" wash the denim? If so, that's an awfully expensive way to lower the pH. Perhaps you can use some citric acid crystals or concentrated white vinegar? Hydrochloric or sulphuric acid will definitely do the trick, but obtaining some for home use may be difficult.

      Can you tell I have a BS in chemistry?

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    3. Salt and lemon juice = very weak hydrochloric acid, right?

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  6. It must depend on the fabric. I've used it on natural fibers linen and cotton, and I know Peggy Sagers from Silhouette patterns uses it a lot. Sorry it didn't work for you.

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  7. Borax was my mother's solution for everything!

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  8. Use un-diluted coke, maybe? Would be an interesting experiment.

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  9. Perhaps the water is the problem. I would suspect that if it can remove acid from a car battery - which I know for sure is true - then undiluted Coca Cola should be able to soften denim. I suggest you get a few liters of soda and soak your denim fabric in a laundry tub of straight Coke for a few hours then wash and dry it. I'd be interested in the results. Please let me know if it works.

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    1. Or a swatch in one can's worth...

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  10. I've used it as well and I've noticed absolutely no difference from just washing it a few times, which actually works better than the coke.

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  11. Yes. I think it's supposed to be undiluted Coke.

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  12. I wonder if half a gallon of white vinegar marinade might make it softer?

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  13. I always use ammonia in the first wash to disolve the waxes used in the manufacture process. Of course, that probably would only work with 100% cotton.

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. LOL! The taste test - too funny.

    No, I have never heard of or tried this. Salt, yes. Coke, no.

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  16. You are our intrepid investigator!!

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  17. According to Peggy Sagers, Silhouette Patterns, you use just coke -- no water, soap etc. She has a front loader & she uses 1 can of coke for a cut of denim which I'm assuming is about 3-4 yards. She swears by it. Haven't tried it yet myself. She said she learned it from a guy she buys fabric from in NY.

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  18. I'm trying to picture how to use Coke in a front loader without water. Can someone enlighten me? It seems like it would go through the holes and sit out of reach of the fabric.

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