Softening Duck Cloth Tips: How to Soften Duck Canvas Easily (2023)

Nice and soft. That is the way you want a lot of your sewing projects to be. You can’t have hard and firm fabrics because that would make sleeping, walking and other simple tasks a little hard on your body. Fabric softener may not be the answer to your problems though.

How to soften duck canvas: One of the tips you need to use to soften duck cloth is to do a test run first. You should use a small piece of the fabric and run it through your washing machine with a softener. You may have to do this 2 or 3 times to see some results.

To get more tip son how to soften duck cloth, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want so you can have soft duck cloth fabrics in your home. Getting a few tips never hurt anyone.

Softening Duck Cloth 101

What is Duck Canvas Used For?

Why Softening Duck Cloth?

Is Duck Canvas Fabric Waterproof?

Does Duck Canvas Shrink or Stretch?

Can You Wash Duck Canvas?

Some Final Words

Tip 1: Fabric softener may only add a soft coating to your duck cloth blankets, etc. It doesn’t really soften the material at all.

Tip 2: Be careful as fabric softener and washing may only wrinkle the duck cloth. It can get so bad that you may not be able to iron the wrinkles out.

What is Duck Canvas Used For?

Softening Duck Cloth Tips: How to Soften Duck Canvas Easily (1)

Believe it or not duck cloth has a wide range of uses. It is found in sneakers, art canvases, backpacks, tents, duffle bags, baby strollers, and a lot more useful life places.

It is a very durable fabric that is made with weaving a heavy cotton fabric together forming what is called ‘duck’, ‘duck canvas’, ‘duck cloth’ or simply canvas. The origin of the term duck cloth does not come from the waterproof nature of ducks.

Instead, it comes from a Dutch word, doek, which was used to reference the material used to make sailor’s clothing. You may be surprised to learn that duck cloth is related to duct or duck tape.

A final application for duck cloth is in some boat sails. It is not your normal everyday fabric that you would use to make blouses, dresses and so on.

Tip 3: Be careful how you wash duck cloth. Even though it may take years of washing to soften, it will shrink a lot on you. Pre-washing is necessary if you want to use duck cloth for household items.

Why Softening Duck Cloth?

One reason to soften duck cloth is to prevent chaffing. Since the material is used in some heavy industry settings as work clothes, people’s skin do not react well when brushing against it. As one wearer stated, they thought their skin was going to be rubbed raw and bleed if they didn’t get the material softened enough.

Also, if you want to use duck cloth in making a nice durable comforter, you need to soften the material immensely to get it to sit right on the bed as well as feel good on your body as you sleep.

The problem is though, that trying to soften your duck cloth blanket or pair of pants, etc., in your home washing machine, may take more than one washing. It could take up to a year’s worth to get it just right.

Tip 4: To soften duck cloth you need to remember the bleed factor. Some duck cloth materials are not colorfast and may bleed color over everything that is thrown in the wash with it. Cold water may help stem the flow of color loss.

How to Soften Cotton Duck Fabric

Softening Duck Cloth Tips: How to Soften Duck Canvas Easily (2)

If you are using a top-loading washing machine, you want to set the wash cycle to cold water only. Then you will want to add 1 cup of vinegar to the water that is coming into your machine. The brand of vinegar does not matter.

After that, when the machine is at the level you want, close all zippers etc., and place the duck cloth made item away from the agitator. Stop the cycle after a few minutes and let the item soak up some vinegar before starting the wash cycle again.

The soaking period should be for about 2 to 3 hours. After you restart the machine, let it go through one cold rinse first. If the item smells like vinegar repeat the cold rinse cycle until the odor is gone.

Once all that is done, tumble dry on cool. Front-loading machines are a little different and they use only 1/4 cup of vinegar not a full cup. Place that amount in the detergent dispenser and fill the rest of that dispenser with water.

Wash in cold water for one complete wash cycle. If you smell vinegar, repeat the wash using detergent instead of vinegar. Use the cool option on your dryer to get dry. The cool option helps soften the fibers.

Tip 5:Do not soak non-colorfast duck cloth items in vinegar. Instead, use the vinegar in the rinse cycle only. Vinegar may or may not help the color to bleed. It depends on the dye color used. So do a test first to make sure.

Is Duck Canvas Fabric Waterproof?

This is a yes and no answer type question. Yes, some levels of duck cloth are very waterproof. But then, some levels are only water-resistant. It will depend on the type of material you get, how thick it is and so on.

If you are lucky, you may find some duck cloth that is treated with fire protection coatings to help stop the spread or ignition of fire. Duck cloth can be lighter than regular canvas which may influence the water-tightness of the fabric to some degree.

What may also influence the water-resistant level is the thread count. Regular canvas has a bigger thread count than duck cloth canvas has. You can draw your own conclusions here and search for the right fabric that works for your next waterproof sewing project.

Most canvas is water-resistant and keeps water away from important items when used on duffle or gym bags.

Tip 6: One good reason to use duck cloth on a variety of different sewing projects is because it comes with a very smooth surface. The fabric does not snag or and it is very difficult to tear the cloth. That is one reason it is used on such heavy-duty items like gym bags and sneakers.

Does Duck Canvas Shrink or Stretch?

Softening Duck Cloth Tips: How to Soften Duck Canvas Easily (3)

Many people have reported that duck cloth is very prone to shrinking when washed. They have come to this conclusion through their own experiences as they have done test washes to find out the answer.

Also, the fabric may wrinkle a lot on you. Some people have said that they cannot press the wrinkles out with an iron. That is how bad the cloth gets at times. Fabric softener seems to only help put wrinkles in and does not do much for softening the fabric.

Then there is the issue that if the duck cloth becomes wet, it may stretch some. This could be during rain or a little snow but water seems to also weaken the fibers so that they lose their shape.

The good news is that this may only happen if you use a cotton version of duck cloth. You would have to check the status of the different fabrics when woven into duck cloth. They all have their own properties and may react in different ways than cotton does when encountering rain and snow.

Your results may differ but regardless, you should do a pre-wash first to get any shrinking out of the way before you start to sew.

Tip 7: Duck cloth blocks wind better than any other work fabric out there except for leather. Whether you soften or not, it is a great winter fabric.

Can You Wash Duck Canvas?

The answer to this question will depend on the level of duck cloth you use. One person uses #4 and they seem to have some success washing their fabric. The first method she uses is hand washing by spraying the fabric with a garden hose. Then she uses a brush to scrub it down.

Then just let it dry in the sun like you would dry cart mats, etc. If you want to use your machine, you may end up using 2 cycles as it is a fairly hard fabric to get clean. The only trouble is that what comes out of the washer may not look like what went in. If this is your issue, then lay down some towels and place the duck cloth item on top and underneath those clothes.

Spread and smooth out the fabric as best as you can. It may take some time getting the fabric smooth again.

Some Final Words

Duck cloth is tough because it does a tough job. It is a thicker material than regular fabric. It needs to be because it handles those tasks associated with sports, sailing, holding sweaty clothes and so on.

That tough property makes it a tough fabric to care for and clean. Use the fabric wisely knowing what you are in for when you do.

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