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The Ultimate Guide for How to Unshrink Clothes

Learn how to stretch clothes that are too small, as well as how to prevent shrinking disasters by careful washing, in this ultimate guide.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

how to unshrink clothes

Follow the instructions, and laundry seems pretty simple. You pop your clothes in, add your detergent, and set the cycle – easy! But there are things you have to think about before you just chuck it all in and press start, such as what happens if you accidentally shrink your clothes. Can polyester shrink? Can you unshrink rayon? How can you prevent shrinking?

To help you out, this article will cover all of those questions, as well as teaching you how to unshrink a shirt or other items of clothing when disaster strikes.

Use a quality detergent that’ll be gentle on your clothes and can be washed at lower temperatures, such as Surf Liquid Detergent, to prevent shrinking disasters.

Does Polyester Shrink in the Wash?

In answer to the frequently asked question, ‘Can polyester shrink in the wash?’, the simple answer is no. As it’s a synthetic fibre, it’s more resilient to heat and won’t shrink – but it can melt at very high temperatures. Does polyester shrink in the dryer? Again, no it won’t, but watch out for melting!

Do Cellulose Fibres Shrink?

Now you know that the answer to ‘does polyester shrink in the wash’ is a no because it’s synthetic, but you might be wondering about cellulose fibres. These are materials that are made from natural sources, and they’re far easier to shrink.

Can You Unshrink Rayon and Other Cellulose Fabrics?

Luckily, there are methods to unshrinking fabrics that could salvage any disasters – and they’re not difficult! Follow these tips for how to unshrink clothes for more:

  • When it comes to how to unshrink clothes made from cotton, fill a sink with room temperature water before adding 2 tablespoons of hair conditioner. Soak the clothes for half an hour, before wringing them out and laying them on a flat surface, pinning the edges to their full length.

  • If you need to know how to stretch clothes made from denim, you can use the same method as you would for cotton. Or, if you can fit the clothes on, wear them in a bath with hot water for about 15 minutes, before wearing them around the house as they dry.

  • If you’re looking to learn how to stretch clothes made from animal fibres, fill a sink with lukewarm water before adding vinegar and leaving your garment to soak, stretching it out as it does.

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Once you know how to stretch clothes that are too small, you can see it’s actually pretty easy!

How to Prevent Clothes from Shrinking

The best way to avoid having to learn how to unshrink a shirt is by preventing shrinkage in the first place. Here’s how to avoid washing mishaps:

  • Always read the label on your clothing first for washing instructions.

  • If you’re unsure, gentle handwashing is the best option to prevent you from having to learn how to stretch clothes that are too small.

  • Tumble dry on lower temperatures to prevent shrinking.

  • Invest in a quality detergent, such as Surf Liquid Detergent, which will be kinder to your clothes.

It isn’t too hard to prevent shrinking from happening – and knowing the answers to questions such as ‘does polyester shrink in the dryer?’ is a must. But, if you do end up having a washing machine mishap, simply read through all our tricks here and you’ll be able to quickly learn how to unshrink a shirt, no matter what it’s made of!

how to unshrink clothes
  • Learn which fabrics can shrink so that you know when to be more careful.

  • Make sure you know how to unshrink clothes made from a variety of materials.

  • Prevention is the best way to stop clothes from shrinking, so always read the label on your clothes!

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on unshrinking clothes

How much does rayon shrink?

Unlike other fabrics prone to shrinkage, such as cotton or linen which shrink up to 5%, the amount that rayon can shrink cannot be so clearly quantified – but it can shrink much more than 5%. The amount is shrinks, depends on the amount you wash it, which makes it excessively important that you follow the correct steps for washing this material.

How do you stretch clothes in the washing machine?

Washing machines don't just cause shrinkage, they can help you fix it too. Here are our simple steps for how to stretch clothes in washing machine. First, pop your clothing into the machine and let it fill with water before switching off the machine. Take care to not put any detergent or conditioner in, you only want water. Soak your clothing in the water for 24 hours before draining the water and removing the item to check if it has stretched enough. If not, you can repeat the soaking process or hang them on the line to air dry without spinning or wringing the water out first. The heavy weight of the liquid will help to stretch your clothing further.

How do you unshrink a canvas bag?

We have 5 easy steps to follow for how to unshrink a canvas bag. First, mix a solution of warm water and 1 cup of baby shampoo. Place the bag into the solution, and gently knead it with your hands to relax the fibres. Use a towel to pat away any excess liquid and then use your hands to gently stretch the bag out to the original size. Finally, leave it to air dry lying flat.

At what temperature does polyester melt?

The temperature that melts polyester is approximately 482°F (250°C)

Originally published