How to Break in A Carhartt Jacket?

Alex Clarkson
Alex Clarkson

You got a nice Carhartt jacket. But over time, it got hardened. Because with every wash, the fabric got stiff and shrank. And you can’t use it until it’s broken in.

So you’re looking for ways to know how to break in a Carhartt jacket?

Well, firstly you’ll need to zip the jackets. Wash it with cold water in a cold cycle. Now mix an equal amount of vinegar and water. Add it to the machine, wash again. After that, let the jacket sit on the solution for 4 hours. Wash again and tumble dry with a tennis ball. Air-dry it to get a soft Carhartt jacket.

So this is how you break in the jacket. But this is just the beginning. We’ve got a whole write-up on it. Just have a look.

What Does Breaking in a Carhartt Jacket Mean?

In other words, breaking in means to soften the jacket. But why was it hard in the first place? Well, the Carhartt jacket is the best in the market for durability.

But this durability comes with a cost. Once the jacket gets old, it tends to shrink. Or the jacket texture becomes hard. Newly bought jackets are stiff as well. That’s why the breaking in term comes.

It means to soften the hardened jacket. Let’s tell you how painful it is to make it wearable again. But with the right procedures, you can make it soft and comfortable again.

Wanna see what’s needed to do? Just hop in.

How to Break in A Carhartt Jacket?- 7 Easy Steps!

You asked for solutions to break in a Carhartt jacket. Here we are with the answers in easy steps.

What are you waiting for? Just scroll below and see it for yourself.

Step 1 of 7: Zip The Jacket Properly

While considering breaking it, first just zip all the chains. Zipping it will ensure that the handles don’t poke the jacket.

Because the breaking process will be tough. So any opened chain or hooks might slow down or hamper the task. Because an open zip slider will cause harsh movements. Which will eventually damage the chain.

 Double-check if everything’s closed or not. Then just move to the next part.

Step 2 of 7: Wash it Normally with Cold Water

Wash the jacket for 15 minutes with cold water. If you’re planning to wash multiple jackets at a time, increase the time accordingly. For example, if you’re washing two jackets, wash them for 30 minutes.

But we recommend not putting more than two jackets together. Otherwise, some parts of the jacket might remain unbreakable.

Having said that, let’s try to understand the situation here. Stiff Carhartt jacket and cold water have a negative relation. We mostly wash Carhartt’s with warm water.

But the fabric of unwashed ducks used in Carhartt can shrink. And they make themselves hard while exposed to warm water continuously. So always go for cold water if you’re trying to break it. And complete a whole cold cycle of the washing machine.

Up to this step, it might seem that we’re teaching you how to wash a Carhartt jacket. But that’s the way you break it in. as you go through the next steps, it’ll be more clear.

Step 3 of 7: Add Vinegar to The Jackets

After washing it with only cold water, here’s the next step. Take 1 cup of white vinegar per jacket. Then mix it with an equal amount of water. Now add the mixture to the washing machine.

Wash it for 10 minutes again. Vinegar will reach the fibers. And eventually, it’ll break them down.

If you don’t like the vinegar smell on your clothes, we have a solution. Just add two drops of lemon essential oil with the vinegar mixture. This will help to overpower the strong vinegar smell.

Step 4 of 7: Let The Jacket Rest

By now you’ve washed the jacket twice. At this stage, it’ll still need some time. Since vinegar will need some time to work.

So you’ve to let it rest. Wait for 3-4 hours. It’s important to let the jacket sit in the solution.

Come back after 4 hours. And try to squeeze the jacket to check how much it softened. If you think it’s not softened enough, wait for another 2 hours.

After that, check again. This time, it should be softer and easier to squeeze. Even if it’s soft, don’t get too excited. Because there’s still a lot of work left to do.

Step 5 of 7: Go for Another Cold Rinse

By now you’ve washed the jacket twice. But you’ll need to rinse it again with cold water. This time, put one tablespoon of laundry detergent. And mix it with 2 teaspoons of fabric softener.

But make sure that none of them contain bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Otherwise, the color of the jacket will fade. And you won’t be able to wear it further.

Make sure they’re not on the ingredient list when choosing the detergent/ softener.

Another item you can use while breaking in is liquid soap. You can make a paste of 1 tablespoon liquid soap and 1 teaspoon fabric softener. Then apply it as an alternative to the detergent method.

Finally, wash it on a normal cycle. Then move to the next step.

Step 6 of 7: Dry it with A Tennis Ball

Now you’ve to tumble dry the jackets on low to medium heat. But here’s the trick. Add a tennis ball with the jackets while tumbling dry.

When the machine rotates and dries it up, the ball will hit the jackets. This hard patting will help in breaking the stiffness. And the fabric will soften a bit.

Or you can use tennis shoes. Just add it with the jacket and tumble. The shoe will beat the stiffness out of it.

If you got none of them, we have another solution. You can add your clean turf to the machine as well. Or any heavy object that’ll be able to pat the jackets.

Step 7 of 7: Take The Jackets Out

Now it’s time to take out the jackets from the machine. Hang the jackets to air dry.

Once dried, you’ll see how the jacket has softened. At this stage, you can sprinkle some water on the jacket. Then iron it to get rid of wrinkles on the jacket.

Air drying reduces your jacket’s wrinkles. If that’s your case, skip the ironing part. So we’re done here.

Remember how we said that stiffness can occur on new jackets as well. There’s a way you can avoid that. Just wear them 24/7.


Question: Will the Carhartt jacket shrink after wash?

Answer: Yes, after several washes, the jacket will shrink. However, the prewashed ones will shrink by 1-2 percent. Whereas, unwashed one will shrink by 3-5 percent.

Question: How long the Carhartt jacket will last after breaking it in?

Answer: As we know, Carhartt jackets are highly durable. But the single breaking-in procedure takes a lot of washing. So after that, the jacket will last for 5-7 years more.

Question: Can I use any other acidic solution instead of vinegar?

Answer: No, here white vinegar is the only option that’ll break in the jacket. Other acidic solutions won’t be able to break in the Carhartt.

Parting Words

Looks like you’re here till the end. And hats off to you for that. You’re now mastered how to break in a Carhartt jacket.

So time to apply it for real. If you face any problem, just leave a comment. We’ll get back to you with answers.

Till then be safe & best of luck.

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