How to Wash and Care for a Team Jersey
Knowing how to wash a jersey—whether it's your favorite seasonal NFL team jersey or it's one your kid uses almost daily for soccer or basketball practice—can help keep this expensive item last longer. Learn how to keep sports jerseys looking as fresh as possible, remove stains from a jersey's numbers, and how to make repairs if the letters or numbers begin to peel away.
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What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Clothesline or drying rack
- Soft-bristled brush (optional)
Numbers and Lettering
- Ironing board
- Sewing machine
- Laundry detergent
- Stain remover (optional)
Numbers and Lettering
- 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)
|How to Wash a Team Jersey|
|Water Temperature||Cold or warm|
|Cycle Type||Permanent press or delicate|
|Drying Cycle Type||Do not machine-dry; air-dry only|
|Special Treatments||Wash inside out|
|Iron Settings||Do not iron|
|How Often to Wash||Once a season for spectators, after every wearing for athletes|
How To Wash a Jersey
Pretreat stains like mustard, ketchup, beer, mud, and grass before putting the jersey in the washer. If you see dirt on the numbers or letters, pretreat those, too. Use an enzyme-based stain remover or a dab of heavy-duty laundry detergent on the stains. Rub in the stain remover or detergent with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush (don't use a brush on numbers or letters), and allow it to work for at least 15 minutes before washing.
Load the Washer
Turn every jersey inside out before adding it to the washer. This will protect the numbers and lettering from abrasion and agitation and will make them last longer.
Select the Washer Cycle and Water Temperature
Select the permanent press or gentle 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.
Dry the Jersey
After removing it from the washer, turn the jersey right side out, and give it a shake. This will prevent the decals from sticking together. Don't wring the jersey, or it could ruin the shirt's shape and lettering. For best results, don't 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 letters stuck together. Dry a jersey flat on a drying rack, or hang to air-dry.
Avoid an Ironing Disaster
Don't iron a jersey because the high temperature can burn holes or melt letters and logos. If you absolutely must iron a jersey, use a pressing cloth and your iron's lowest temperature.
How to Repair Peeling Letters and Numbers
You've done your best to maintain your jersey, but now the letters or numbers on the shirt are curling up and peeling away. Or, maybe the printer misspelled a player's name. Here's what to do.
Repair Letters and Numbers
Place a freshly washed jersey on an ironing board with the peeling decal facing up. Set the iron on high without steam. Position or smooth the decal back to the way it should be. Cover the curled section with a sheet of white notebook or copy paper.
Use just the tip of the iron, never the entire surface, over the white paper. Press only the edge of the curling decal. Begin slowly, with a very short pressing time. Just tap the edge of the iron and the edge of the paper-covered decal for a few seconds. Gradually increase the time until you see the decal sticking again to the fabric. Never allow the iron to directly touch the jersey or the decals. 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, move to another area.
Separating 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. But, no matter how careful you are, the letters are never going to look the same as before. 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 an acetone-based fingernail polish remover, and slowly swab the stuck areas while very gently pulling the letters apart. There will be some damage to the letters no matter how gentle you are in the process.
Restoring Cracked Lettering
If the numbers and lettering have cracked or faded, it's 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 may appear uneven. Another option is to wear the cracked lettering proudly to signify your years of support for the team.
Correcting Misspelled Lettering
Printers make mistakes, and sometimes a name is misspelled or a number needs to be changed. It's 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 the season. Plus, it's less expensive than buying a new jersey.
Treating Stains on a Team Jersey
A team jersey used for practices and games will need attention after just about every wearing. Since a team jersey should be washed on a more gentle cycle in the washing machine, you may have to work on the stains by hand for best results.
Eliminate sweat stains and perspiration odor on a team jersey by adding 1 cup of white vinegar to your wash. If the odor is still lingering, wash again, but this time add 1/2 cup baking soda to the load.
Remove stubborn grass stains by mixing one part vinegar with two parts water. Dip a toothbrush or soft-bristled brush into the liquid. Gently brush the mixture onto the stain. Let it absorb for one to two hours. Then, toss the garment into the regular wash.
Remove blood from a jersey by running cold water over the shirt. Continually rub your fingers on the stain under the water to loosen it from the fibers. If needed, add a drop of shampoo or dish soap to the stain while you rub it in with your fingers under cold water. Rinse, and repeat if necessary. Then, toss the garment into the regular wash.
Care and Repairs
Besides fixing cracked numbers, your jersey may end up with a rip or snag in it. To fix a rip, simply find thread the same color as the jersey. Turn the jersey inside out and fix the rip with a needle and thread from the wrong side. Fix a snag in a woven team jersey much like you would do with a sweater, but the weave is likely a lot tighter. Use a needle (blunt or otherwise) to poke the snag through the fabric to the wrong side of the jersey. Use tweezers to grab the thread once you can pull it through to the wrong side of the fabric. Do not cut the snag, just leave it hanging on the inside.
Storing a Team Jersey
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.
How Often to Wash a Team Jersey
Spectators can wash a jersey once a season to keep it in good shape, unless there are spills that need to be cleaned. Athletes should wash their jerseys after each wearing to remove dirt and odors.
Tips for Washing a Team Jersey
- Don't use fabric softeners on team jerseys because the chemicals can coat the fabric and damage the way it wicks moisture away from your body.
- For extra protection, wash your jersey in a mesh garment bag. That way the hooks, zippers, and Velcro from other items won't snag on the jersey.
- If you need your jersey to dry quickly, grab your blow-dryer, set it to cool, and point it at the garment to dry.
Can you wash a jersey in the washer?
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. Your 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, do so. If it says not to put it in the dryer, comply—or you'll be sorry.
Why is my jersey ripping when I wash it?
Letters and numbers can rip off a jersey when the adhesive on the back weakens from wear-and-tear and many washings. Do not rub your jersey's fabric when you wash it to avoid any more rips after you repair them.
Should I take my jersey to the dry cleaners?
Do not dry clean a team jersey because the solvents and other chemicals could damage the fabric and embellishments.