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How to prevent clothes from shrinking

Did your favorite shirt shrink? We show you how to no longer have that problem.


prevent clothes from shrinking

Finding the perfect t-shirt, dress or suit that fits you like a glove is the best feeling. It feels like it was made for you – until you take it out of the wash and realise it’s performed a sneaky shrinking act on you.

Knowing how to prevent your clothes from shrinking is a key laundry skill to master. From learning how to wash clothes without shrinking to understanding how to avoid shrinking clothes in the dryer, this article will cover everything you need to know – including how to rescue shrunken garments.

We recommend using a laundry detergent that delivers brilliant cleaning at low temperatures like Skip washing powder and liquid detergent.

How to prevent clothes from shrinking

Wondering how to avoid shrinking clothes in the washing machine and how to prevent cotton clothes from shrinking? You’re in the right place. Read on to discover how to prevent your favourite clothes becoming mere shadows of their former selves.

  • Check the type of material – If you’re wondering how to avoid shrinking clothes, the first thing to do is check the label to see what material the garment is made of. In general, you can safely assume that man-made fibres such as polyester will survive the washing machine. But how to prevent cotton clothes from shrinking?

  • Wash with cold water – How to avoid shrinking clothes in the washing machine? Safeguard your cotton clothes by washing them in cold water. When you use a high quality detergent like Skip, cold water will wash just as well as hot water. In fact, hot water causes fabric fibres to relax and lose their shape over time.

  • Check the labels – Prevention is always better than cure. Always read and follow the care labels and wash your clothes at the right temperature for the fabric. How to wash clothes without shrinking? Some materials require special care, and some may even need hand washing to prevent them losing their shape.

  • Air dry your clothes – Now, how to avoid shrinking clothes in dryer. If possible, try not to use this energy-guzzling appliance, as the heat and force of the tumble dryer can shrink and damage clothes. Air dry clothes horizontally where possible, as hanging wet clothes can cause them to stretch and change shape.

How to unshrink clothes

If it’s too late, and you could have done with knowing how to prevent your clothes from shrinking a little earlier, don’t panic as the process is sometimes reversible.

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When it comes to shrunken clothes, the key is to act immediately – you don’t want your clothes to get completely dry, as this will make the damage irreversible. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Fill up a bucket, bowl or sink with lukewarm water. Make sure it’s not too hot as this could cause the fibres of your clothes to become misshapen.

  2. Add around 15ml of gentle hair conditioner or baby shampoo to the water. This will allow you to reshape your clothes without damaging any fibres.

  3. Let your clothes soak for around 30 minutes.

  4. Empty the water and press any excess moisture out of your clothes. Try not to squeeze or wring them as this could result in creases at best or misshapen garments at worst.

  5. Lay your clothes flat on top of a clean towel to soak up any excess moisture. Reshape as required.

  6. Air dry on top of a drying rack. Make sure your clothes don’t overhang and stretch again!

Knowing how to avoid shrinking clothes in the first place is preferable, but it’s good to have a plan B just in case! This technique works on a variety of materials, from cotton to wool and beyond – so next time something shrinks in the wash, turn to these handy tips to get it looking good as new.

  • Check the material – some may be more prone to shrinking in the machine

  • Check the labels – some items may require hand washing or special care

  • Wash with cold water – use a high quality laundry detergent that cleans effectively at cool temperatures

  • Air dry clothes – heat from the dryer can cause clothes to shrink

  • Don’t panic – shrunken garments can be stretched and reshaped

Originally published