How to Clean and Care for a Team Jersey

how to wash and repair a team jersey

Thomas Barwick/ Getty Images

Every true sports fan has a jersey or two for their favorite team. Whether you wear them to cheer from the couch or stands or your or your child participates in a sport, these jerseys are expensive and you want them to last a long time. Learn how to keep sports jerseys looking great and make repairs if the letters or numbers begin to peel away.

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 put it in the dryer or you'll be sorry.

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

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 on How to Wash a Team Jersey

  1. Pretreat Stains

    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 agitation 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. Do not wring the jersey or it could ruin the top's shape and lettering. 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 a jersey because the high temperature can burn holes or melt letters and logos. If you absolutely must iron the jersey, use a pressing cloth and your iron's lowest temperature.

Hockey jerseys on clothesline
 Richard Reader Photography/ Getty Images

Instructions on How to Repair Peeling Letters and Numbers

You've done your best to maintain the jersey but now the letters or numbers on the shirt 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. Repairing Curling and Peeling Letters and Numbers

    Place a freshly-washed jersey on an ironing board with the peeling symbol facing up. Set the iron on high without steam. Position or smooth the symbol 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 flat bottom surface, over the white paper. Press only 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 directly touch the jersey or the lettering. 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.

  2. 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 perfect. 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 very gently pulling the letters apart. There will be some damage to the letters no matter how gentle you are in the process.

  3. Restoring Cracked Lettering

    If the numbers and lettering have cracked or faded, 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. Wear cracked lettering proudly to signify your years of support for the team.

  4. Correcting 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 the season. And, it is less expensive than buying a new jersey.

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.

Treating Stains on a Team Jersey

Eliminate sweat stains and perspiration odor on a team jersey by adding a cup of white vinegar to your wash. If the odor is still lingering, wash again, but this time add in 1/2 cup of baking soda to the load.

Remove stubborn grass stains by mixing one part vinegar to two parts water. Dip a toothbrush or soft-bristled brush into the liquid. Gently brush the mixture onto the stain. Let it absorb into the stain for about one to two hours. Then toss the garment into the regular wash.

Remove blood stains from a jersey by running cold water over the shirt. Continuously 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.

Tips for Washing a Team Jersey

  • Do not 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 aim at the garment to dry.