View Full Version : Does anyone know how to soften a dogi?

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06-15-2005, 08:29 AM
Hi de ho

As a humble beginner to the aikido, I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on how to soften my dogi.

Everytime I wash and hang dry it, it comes out like cardboard and feels like sandpaper!



06-15-2005, 09:08 AM
How to soften a dogi.

If I were the facetious type I would say train in it for about 5 years and that should do it, but given that I'm not !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wash and then hang dry to save electricity for the dryer ( HINT COURTESY OF MY WIFE ; THE SCOT) then next day, when like cardboard, put in dryer for 10 minutes with one of those softener things .

Then wear it for 5 years. :D

Cheers Have fun


Paul Kerr
06-15-2005, 09:09 AM
Just keep training regularly. It'll soften up by itself over time.

Mark Jakabcsin
06-15-2005, 09:27 AM
Wash several times with tons of fabric softener.


06-15-2005, 09:35 AM
Find a glacier-fed mountain stream, wash repeatedly in the first rays of the morning sun while the dew is still present then beat vigorously with a stick hewn that morning from a 20 year-old mountain ash - show that dogi who's boss!

OK, fabric softener is good too...

06-15-2005, 09:37 AM
Personally, I'd stay away from using fabric softener, as doing so will reduce the absorbancy of the fabric...

-- Jun

06-15-2005, 09:44 AM
Wash and put it in the dryer on medium heat with a fabric sheet.

Smells nice, too ;)


06-15-2005, 10:19 AM
fabric softener's gonna make the gi slippery when you get sweaty. yuck

06-15-2005, 10:38 AM
Everytime I wash and hang dry it, it comes out like cardboard and feels like sandpaper!

You're hang-drying your gi? No wonder it's stiff!

Dry it in the dryer. It'll still be kinda stiff until you've got it properly broken in, but not quite as bad.

Pauliina Lievonen
06-15-2005, 11:48 AM
Drying anything in the dryer is a waste of energy and wears the clothes out quicker. :p

One of my keikogi is like that, after I wash it it's like cardboard even though it's five years old! After warms ups and rolling it's ok again though. No big deal really.


06-15-2005, 12:44 PM
Use a fabric softener sheet. I haven't found that using a fabric softener sheet effects the absorbancy of fabric whether its towels or a gi. It's not like I walk off the mat and my gi's dry and I'm soaking wet from sweat.

Adam Alexander
06-15-2005, 01:45 PM
I'm in the "do not use softener" camp.

I've found that my dogi is slippery also.

For some reason, I'm thinking having it warm before use would help. I don't know why, but it seems like there's a correlation between a warm dogi and a soft dogi.

If it were my dogi, though, I'd just get used to it:)

06-15-2005, 11:42 PM
I'm a member of the Don't-use-the-Dryer camp.

Mine is only about 1 1/2 months old, so it is always stiff as a board. What I do is just take it off the hanger and roll it up a couple time then shake it out.

The only way to get the really soft comfy gi is time, but getting it all crinkily before use softens it up a good bit. Also a lycra rash-gaurd (availiable at any aquatic sprots shop ((Dive, windsurfing, water ski, anywhere they sell wetsuits)) should have them) does wonders about dodging gi and mat burn.

Hope that helped.

06-15-2005, 11:49 PM
I'd stay away from the softener (at least the stuff you buy from the supermarket). Just wear some UnderArmour or anything made out of knit polyester microfiber underneath your dogi; your dogi will soften up in its own time.

Textile geek note: If you know someone in the commercial garment washing trade, maybe they can put your dogi through the cellulase enzyme treatment usually done to denim. That'll soften it up without compromising cotton's ability to absorb water.

06-16-2005, 02:50 AM
Buy a better gi :D I find that some gi's will be like cradboard no matter what you do - especially the cheap ones. I kind of like it though, but I have switched to a lighter gi over the years .They tend to 'break' easier.

BTW: I NEVER use fabric softener of any kind. No need to put more chemicals in nature than there already is. I also try to avoid using the dryer. It's a waste of electricity and it shrinks the closes.

Finally lets be frank.. who really joined aikido to be comfortable?

06-16-2005, 03:05 AM
Hmm, if you hang it, that's just how it goes really. Just give it a quick shake out when you take it off the line to get the worst of the stiffness out of it.
I use fabric softener and don't really notice the difference in absorbency. But then I'd sweat enough to soak it, regardless.

As for thin dogi, don't get them if you tend to sweat a bit.
My first one was a karate gi, and all it did was get drenched in about 10 minutes flat, then proceed to stick to me. Very gross and generally off-putting... :-(

06-16-2005, 03:59 AM
My gis are often a bit cardboard-like, but they do soften after a warm-up.

I've noticed that jeans are always crispy when they are freshly laundered and dry(no matter how you dry them). To soften them up, I generally work them with my hands, twisting and flexing them back and forth (especially round the seams) to loosen the fabric up just before wearing them. Perhaps that would help with you dogi?

06-16-2005, 06:12 AM
Thanks for the replies and will try all the suggestions. I'll post the results once I have tried all the suggesions.

It might take me a while to let you know how the dogi is after 5 years of ukemi!

Matt Molloy
06-16-2005, 07:03 AM
I'm afraid I'm in the blood, sweat and tears camp. :D



Michael Neal
06-16-2005, 08:01 AM
I have had no problems using liquid fabric softners on my Judo gis

Jim Simons
06-16-2005, 08:32 AM
I'm a member of the no-dryer camp, for the most part: wash, hang dry, but then fifteen minutes tumbling in the dryer on NO heat, softens it right up. Of course the "just go train" method, like so much of the rest of aikido, works pretty well too...

06-16-2005, 08:56 AM
I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on how to soften my dogi.
Talk nicely to it and be supporitve!

Mark Jakabcsin
06-16-2005, 08:58 AM
Since you only use the fabric softener the first few times, while the gi is new, I don't see a problem. After it softens up you don't need to use it again. After a few more washes the negatives mentioned are a none issue in my experience.

You can also wash a few times in a heavy bleach solution. Don't do this more than 2 or 3 times. The heavy bleach solution starts to break down the threads, hence making the fabric softer and more plyable, however if you do it to often the fabric will start to fall apart.

Of course there's nothing wrong with proving you are a tough guy and gutting it out. I used to do that by decided being a wuss was loads more comfortable.

Mark J.

Janet Rosen
06-16-2005, 11:17 AM
I'll just add that it's not the dogi; any laundry hung to dry will feel stiff to people who grew up with automatic driers and chemical softeners.

Matt Molloy
06-16-2005, 02:52 PM
I'll just add that it's not the dogi; any laundry hung to dry will feel stiff to people who grew up with automatic driers and chemical softeners.

Automatic driers? Chemical softeners?


When I were a lad, we 'ad to wrestle our dogi off the pet dinosaur, go out, kill a woolly mammoth, scrape the fat off it to use as soap, run up a mountain to a volcanic stream, fight the leader of the opposing tribe for the right to wash us dogi, pound it in the stream for seven days on an 'ard piece of rock,


we 'ad to run down the mountain, up the next volcano where we'd hop around in the blistering heat waiting for the dogi to dry and making sure that no ash got onto it,


we 'ad to leave a flat rock baking in the sand whilst we did 1000 push ups and it heated to a proper temperature, take it out of the sand afterwards, find a bigger flat rock, wrestle another dinosaur for the privilege of using it, drape the dogi over it, iron it wi' the first flat rock till you could do tameshigiri with the creases, pack it, run 20 miles to the dojo where our sensei would break our arms for the sheer fun of it.

And you tell that to the kids today and they won't believe you.



Ron Tisdale
06-16-2005, 03:07 PM
Now THAT was funny....


David Warden
06-16-2005, 04:06 PM
Nice one Matt. It may be possible to do all that in Edinburgh but in the classier North East of England I can't find any volcanos, the rest is no problem. Aw well, just have to resort to the fabric softener.

Nick Simpson
06-17-2005, 07:07 AM
Just Tumble Dry it into SUBMISSION!

Larry John
06-17-2005, 02:14 PM
Don't be too surprised if none of the answers above work for you.

They don't teach anyone the secret kotodama for gi softening until rokudan, and then its only if the candidate can find a way into the entrance to the hidden laundry at Hombu.

On further review, perhaps John Riggs can refer you to a soke who would be willing to help you out :eek: ... for the right price. :D

Lan Powers
06-17-2005, 08:07 PM
>and tell that to the kids today....etc.<

SAY NO MORE!! (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

Matt Molloy
06-18-2005, 03:59 AM
*Bows in to Python Kamiza.*

Counting down to the first person to start on about that d*mn parrot.




Larry John
06-18-2005, 01:34 PM
Parrot? Oh, you must mean the Norwegian Blue! Lovely plumage, eh?

But, really, wouldn't you rather have an exploding penguin on top of your telly? I have one fresh in from Burma!

07-09-2005, 05:37 AM
The fun way to soften a dogi - put on your favourite punk rock CD and jump up and down on your gi :)

Ruth (Mosh pits are better than tumble dryers!)

John Boswell
07-09-2005, 10:38 AM
"Excuse me... is this the forum for an argument?" :D