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Get your shrink on! How to shrink clothes

Want to know how to shrink a shirt, or any other item of clothing? Follow this guide to shrinking clothes.


By Cleanipedia Team

Finding your jumper’s shrunk in the wash isn’t always a reason for despair. Sometimes your clothes are a little too large, and you need to shrink them to make them fit just right. If you want your wardrobe to last, though, you’ll need to know how to shrink clothes without damaging them. Here are the basics of shrinking clothes.

Key Steps

When you’re shrinking clothes, heat is the key.

  1. Check the material you’re working with.

  2. Shrink items one at a time.

  3. If possible, put your garment through a hot wash.

  4. Alternatively, boil it for five minutes.

  5. If possible, tumble dry on high heat.

If you don’t have a tumble dryer, or if you’re trying to shrink clothes that don’t take well to tumbling, you can still harness the shrinking potential of hot air by using a hair dryer. Put it on the highest setting and dry the item by hand.

How to shrink clothing in wash

Always check the care label to make sure the item you’re shrinking can endure washing and drying in a machine. You may need to ignore the care label’s recommended temperature when you’re shrinking your clothes, though, as the label will want to prevent shrinking.

  1. Use a high heat.

    Run the item you want to shrink through a wash at high heat.

  2. Leave out the conditioner.

    Resist the urge to reach for the fabric conditioner for this particular wash. Fabric conditioner relaxes the fibres of clothes, and you want them to contract, so leave the Comfort Intense Fuchsia Passion until you’ve got your shrinking done.

  3. Use a tumble dryer with caution.

    If it looks like the item could use further shrinking after the wash, put it in the tumble dryer on a high-temperature setting. Check on it every five minutes or so to make sure it’s not getting too small.

  4. Repeat.

    If it’s still not down to your perfect size, you can repeat the wash-and-dry until you’re satisfied.

  5. Turn down the heat.

    Remember to turn down the heat for your next regular wash!

How to shrink clothes by hand

How do you shrink clothes if the material can’t endure machine washing? Well, the machine’s not the only way you can expose your clothes to high heat. You probably don’t boil your clothes every day, but it can really help if you want to know how to shrink a shirt.

  1. Boil a big pan of water.

    It’ll need to be large enough to contain whatever you’re shrinking completely.

  2. Turn off the heat.

    Once it’s boiling, turn off the heat.

  3. Submerge.

    Submerge your garment in the water.

  4. Leave it.

    Leave it there for five minutes.

  5. Fish it out, carefully.

    Don’t burn yourself. It’s best to use tongs for this.

  6. Use a towel.

    Let it cool until it’s safe to handle, then use a towel to press out excess water.

  7. Hang it up to dry.

    If you’re concerned that the weight of the water will stretch it back out, you can instead lay it flat on a towel, although drying will take longer.

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

Finding the right piece in the wrong size can be maddening. Now that you know how to shrink clothes, though, it may be less of a problem than it seems. Enjoy your new look!

Read other articles from the Clothing Care category

How to get colour run out of clothes

What do the symbols on washing machines mean

How to remove static from clothes

How to stop clothes bobbling

How to make clothes smell good and stay fresh

Originally published