How to Wash and Repair a Team Jersey

how to wash and repair a team jersey

Thomas Barwick/ Getty Images

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 a Team Jersey
Detergent Regular laundry detergent
Water Temperature Cold or Warm
Cycle Type Permanent Press
Drying Cycle Type Do not machine dry, air-dry only
Special Treatments Wash inside out
Iron Settings Do not iron

Project Metrics

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 washing your jersey requires a more gentle touch. 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.

Working time: 15 minutes

Total time: 2 hours

Skill level: Beginner

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Laundry detergent
  • Stain remover (optional)
  • Water

Tools

  • Washer
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)
  • Clothesline or drying rack

Instructions

  1. Pretreat Stains From Snacking or Playing

    Pretreat stains like mustard, ketchup, beer, mud, and grass before putting the jersey in the washer. Use an enzyme-based stain remover or a dab of heavy-duty laundry detergent on the stains. Rub in the stain remover with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush and allow it to work for at least 15 minutes before washing.

  2. Load the Washer

    Turn every jersey inside out before adding it to the washer. This will protect the numbers and lettering from abrasion and will make them last longer.

  3. Select the Washer Cycle and Water Temperature

    Select the Permanent Press washer cycle to help prevent excessive wrinkling and wear on the letters and numbers. Set the water temperature to cold or warm. Hot water can cause fading, shrinking, and letter damage.

  4. Drying a Jersey

    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 a sports jersey in the dryer. The high heat is too much for the jersey and you may end up with cracked letters or worse, letters stuck together. Dry a jersey flat on a drying rack or hang to air dry.

  5. Avoid an Ironing Disaster

Avoid ironing because, again, the high temperature can burn holes or melt letters and logos. If you absolutely must iron the jersey, use a pressing cloth and low temperature.

Hockey jerseys on clothesline
 Richard Reader Photography/ Getty Images

Repair Peeling Letters and Numbers on a Jersey

You've done your best but now the letters or numbers on your jersey are curling up and peeling away. Or, the printer misspelled a player's name. Here's what to do.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • White copy paper or notebook paper
  • Acetone-based nail polish remover
  • Cotton swab
  • Matching jersey fabric (optional)
  • New fabric letters or numbers (optional)
  • Matching thread(s) (optional)

Tools

  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  1. Repair Curling and Peeling Letters and Numbers

    Place a freshly-washed jersey on an ironing board with the peeling symbol face up. Set the iron on high with no steam. 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 the iron, never the entire flat bottom surface, over the white paper, and 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 jersey or letting. Leave the jersey flat on the ironing board until the area is completely cool.

    Work on only one problem at a time. When the corrected section is cool, you can move to another area.

  2. How to Separate Melted Lettering

    If the jersey was accidentally put 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.

  3. How to Restore Cracked Lettering

    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. Why not wear your well-worn team's laundry proudly as a sign of years of support?

  4. How to Correct Misspelled Lettering

Printers make mistakes and sometimes a name is misspelled or a number needs to be changed. It is usually impossible to remove the letters without damaging the fabric. Instead, buy some matching jersey fabric and attach the new numbers or lettering (iron-on or stitched) to the fabric. Then hand- or machine-sew the square or rectangle onto the jersey. It won't look perfect but it can get a kid through a baseball season. And, it is less expensive than a new jersey.

Storage

Team jerseys should be washed before storage to avoid difficult-to-remove stains for the next season. They can be folded or hung but should always be kept in a temperature-controlled environment to prevent damage to the lettering.