extend the life of your clothes
Clothing Care

How to stretch clothes and make them last longer

Need to know how to stretch clothes that are too small? Learn how to extend the life of your clothes here.

Shrinking clothes aren’t always the sign of an overindulgent weekend or two. Washing clothes can put them under strain and can cause them to shrink or lose their shape. In this article, you can learn how to stretch clothes that are too small, and how to wash clothes to prevent them from shrinking.

How to stretch cotton?

Is that favourite shirt of yours starting to get a bit snug? We’ve got some tips on how to stretch out a shirt or any other cotton items.

  1. The first step in how to stretch a cotton shirt is to fill up your sink, or a tub/bucket with lukewarm water.
  2. Next, make a solution with the lukewarm water and fabric softener. An ideal mix is 50ml of softener per litre of lukewarm water.
  3. The best method for how to stretch a shirt involves fully submerging it in the solution. All the fibres need to soak in order for them to be stretched later.
  4. Let your garment soak for 1 hour.
  5. Remove excess moisture from your garment by laying it flat on a towel and rolling it up.
  6. Pin your garment into your preferred shape with some heavy objects on a dry towel. Let the garment dry.  If you’re interested in how to stretch a hoodie, or a slightly thicker garment, try wearing it while damp to reshape it to the size of your body.

Knowing exactly how to stretch out a shirt the right amount is difficult. We’d recommend stretching out any clothes by a small amount at a time, until you get your desired fit.

How to increase the lifespan of your clothes?

Washing your clothes on the correct setting and with an effective detergent means you hopefully won’t need to know how to stretch a shirt in an emergency. Find our tips below.

  • Sort your clothes. Sorting your clothes into darks, colours and lights will retain their colour and avoid any accidental dye transferring from one garment to another.
  • Check your labels. Some clothes may be unsuitable for a washing machine or tumble drier. Find out more about washing labels, here.
  • Check your temperatures. Washing at a high temperature is damaging to your clothes. Washing in a cold wash (20 degrees) is fine with an effective detergent. Drive, for example, still does a good job in cold water.
  • Choosing a spin setting. Try a using a lower spin speed to reduce any unnecessary stress on your clothes. Additionally, line drying your clothes avoids the dryer and helps them to retrain their shape. Remember to dry in the shade if you have bright or dark colours to help them stay vibrant.

Storing your clothes properly will help too. Make sure your clothes are fully dry before you put them away. It’s also good to keep clothes away from areas with strong smells which might make your clothes need washing more frequently. Surf detergents can leave your clothes a long-lasting freshness.

Our guide on taking care of your laundry can show you how to stretch a shirt’s lifespan. Accidents shouldn’t stop us from enjoying our favourite clothes. If anything unfortunate does happen, our advice on how to stretch cotton clothes will come in handy too. Check out the rest of our laundry and washing articles to protect your clothes for longer.

how to stretch clothes

Cleanipedia recommends:


Always read the label when washing your clothes as a lot of items will shrink from being washed on overly high temperature.

Key Steps:

It’s not just the heat that can damage your clothes, here are some tips on taking care of your clothes as you prepare to wash them.

  • Zip up any hoodies or jackets being washed. The teeth of these zips can catch clothes mid-cycle and pull them apart.
  • Put any heavy items like trainers in with towels. Towels aren’t as delicate as your clothes, so you don’t have to worry about any damage.
  • Put any delicates into a mesh bag to stop them from getting stretched by more robust pieces of clothing.