In short: The best way to keep Dickies pants stiff is to hand wash them instead of machine washing them. To make them stiff again, spray starch/sizing solution and iron the entire fabric.
A pair of Dickies work pants are expensive. In this article, you’ll learn how to keep Dickies pants stiff. You’ll also learn how to make them stiff again once they have softened naturally.
How to keep Dickies pants stiff
Over time, a pair of Dickies work pants will soften naturally. Some people also make an extra effort to soften the pants themselves. However, not everyone likes soft work pants.
Here are a few things you can do to keep Dickies pants stiff and in good shape.
1. Hand wash instead of machine wash
The best thing you can do to keep Dickies pants stiff is to hand-wash instead of machine-wash. The latter method is more aggressive on fabric, compared to manual washing.
Avoid using a hard brush on the surface to prevent fading. For tough stains, soak your pants in a bucket or tub so you don’t have to scrub them out, which can damage the fabric over time.
However, not everyone has the time and commitment to hand-wash their Dickies work pants every single day. It’s just not practical. You can use a washing machine with a few exceptions.
Make sure to use the cold setting on your washing machine to minimize fabric degradation. Use a gentle laundry detergent to maintain the quality and stiffness of your Dickies pants.
2. Air dry your Dickies pants
Next, you’d want to air dry your Dickies work pants. Exposing your pants to heat and friction from the dryer can cause them to break down faster than air drying on a clothesline.
Not only does air drying keep your pants stiff, but they’ll also retain their shape for a longer period of time. Hot tumble-drying in particular takes a toll on fabric.
Air-drying also prevents shrinking.
Unfortunately, air drying does take longer and isn’t always possible in areas prone to unpredictable rainy weather. You have to plan ahead when air-drying your pants.
You can try to balance convenience and protecting your clothes by sticking to short cycle times and low heat, minimizing mechanical action and heat exposure.
3. Wear knee pads to protect knees and pants
Doing surface work can damage even the toughest pants out there. All that abrasion will cause your pants to discolor, soften, and eventually rip, no matter how thick they can be.
To avoid this type of damage, wear professional knee pads when doing surface work. The knee pads serve as a protective barrier between your Dickies work pants and rugged surfaces.
Choose a pair of knee pads with a thick gel cushion and secure double straps like these. An added perk is that knee pads make such jobs on construction sites more comfortable.
How to make Dickies pants stiff again
You can make a pair of Dickies pants stiff again by spraying starch on them. Basically, it’s a technique that can make your pants stiff, crisp, and free of wrinkles.
However, starch spraying comes with disadvantages too. Starch can break down the fabric of your clothing. Your pants won’t last as long if you starch them often.
Some items cannot be starched because starch is used to stiffen clothes. The rice and maida in starch are great for cotton, but not great for other materials.
Instead of starch-spraying, laundry sizing is the preferred method of adding body and crispness to clothes made of man-made fibers such as polyester or cotton/polyester blends.
The vegetable-based starch will not adhere to these fibers.
Keep in mind that Dickies work pants are made from a twill blend that’s 65% polyester and 35% cotton, so you’ll need to use a starch spray alternative that is safe for the material.
You can, of course, take your softened pair of Dickies pants to the dry cleaners and ask them to starch your clothes. Or — you can learn to do it yourself. Here’s how.
1. Wash and dry thoroughly
Thoroughly hand-wash and air-dry the Dickies pants that you’re going to starch. Make sure the pants that you’re working with are completely stain-free as the iron can actually set stains.
2. Place the pants on the ironing board
Lay the pair of Dickies work pants flat on an ironing board. I recommend using an ironing board with a heat-reflective cover to make the job easier.
3. Spray starch/laundry sizing solution
Evenly spray the starch or laundry sizing across the Dickies work pants. Remember, you’ll need this solution to protect the garment. Wait a few moments for the starch to settle into the item.
4. Iron the Dickies work pants
Check the fabric care label for the item and iron.
With the highest heat possible for the specific garment, carefully iron the entire fabric. Do not use the steam setting when ironing as this doesn’t help with crispiness when using starch.
5. Hang the pants
After ironing, hang your Dickies work pants on a clothes hanger to fully dry. This will help avoid wrinkling. That’s it! You can now starch from home and save money at the dry cleaners.