Every true fan has a team jersey for their favorite sport, maybe lots of them! Whether you wear them to cheer from the couch or stands or actually participate in a sport, these jerseys are expensive and we want them to last as long as possible. Learn how to keep sports jerseys looking great and make repairs if the letters or numbers begin to peel away.
How to Wash and Dry a Jersey
Most jerseys are made from polyester or another synthetic fabric. These fabrics are easy to wash and dry but jerseys have the addition of letters and numbers that must be treated with care. The team may be tough but laundry is a different story (just ask the managers). Take a minute to read the care label. If it says to use cold water, believe it. If it says do not put in the dryer, don't do it anyway! You'll be sorry.
Pretreat stains like mustard, ketchup, and beer as recommended before putting the jersey in the washer. For best results, wash the jersey as soon as possible before stains are set and become harder to remove. Turn your jersey inside out before adding it to the washer. This will protect the numbers and lettering from abrasion and will make them last longer. Use the recommended water temperature or cold water. Hot water can cause fading, shrinking, and letter damage.
After removing it from the washer, turn the jersey right side out and give it a shake. This will prevent the lettering from sticking together. For best results, do not put your jersey in the dryer. The high heat is too much for your jersey and you may end up with cracked letters or worse, letters stuck together. Dry your jersey flat or hang to air dry.
Avoid ironing because, again, the high temperature can burn holes or melt letters and logos. If you absolutely must iron the jersey, use a press cloth and low temperature.
How to Repair Peeling Letters and Numbers
You've done your best but now the letters or numbers on your jersey are curling up and peeling away. What to do?
Make sure that the jersey is clean so that you won't accidentally set-in stains. Place the jersey on an ironing board with the peeling symbol face up. Set your iron on high with no steam (yes, this is the time to use high heat). Position or smooth the symbol back to the way it should be and cover the curling section with a sheet of white notebook or copy paper.
Use just the tip of your iron, never the entire flat bottom surface, over the white paper, press just the edge of the curling symbol. Begin slowly, with a very short pressing time. Just tap the edge of the iron and the edge of the paper-covered symbol for a few seconds. Gradually increase the time until you see the symbol is sticking again to the fabric. Never allow the iron to actually touch the plastic or you'll have a melted mess on your iron and jersey. Leave the jersey flat on the ironing board until it is completely cool.
Work on only one problem at a time. When the corrected section is cool, you can move to another area.
If you have accidentally put your jersey in the dryer on high heat and the letters have melted together, they can be separated to save the jersey. No matter how careful you are, the letters are never going to look perfect. However, this technique will allow you to wear the jersey again without a big hole.
Allow the jersey to cool completely. Dip a cotton swab in acetone (fingernail polish remover) and slowly swab the stuck areas while GENTLY pulling the letters apart. There will be some damage to the letters.
If the numbers and lettering have begun to crack or fade, it is nearly impossible to restore them to their original glory. Some sites recommend using fabric paint to repaint the lettering. You can purchase fabric paint at a craft store or online. However, the repair will never look like the original and can look uneven and amateurish if you don't do it correctly. I feel it is better to wear your well-worn team's laundry proudly as a sign of support.
Help! My Name Is Spelled Wrong
One last problem with team jersey lettering is when the printer makes a mistake; a name is spelled wrong or your number needs to change. It is VERY difficult to remove the letters without damaging the fabric. Instead, buy some matching fabric and attach the new numbers or lettering (iron-on or stitched) to the fabric. Then sew the square or rectangle onto the jersey. It won't look like everyone else's but it can get a kid through a season. And, it is less expensive than a new jersey.