How to “Unshrink” Your Clothes!

I have a sad story, followed by a happy ending to share with you today.

A couple of weeks ago I was buying No. 2 son a pair of football cleats at the Nike Outlet and inadvertently ended up browsing in the women’s clothing.

Although I wasn’t looking for anything in particular..I did find myself inexplicably drawn to a pair of royal blue pants (or as I like to call them…”comfy pants”).  I don’t usually shop for myself at the Nike store…but those pants were calling my name. I just loved the color and they were made out of the SOFTEST tshirt-like material!

So I gave in to the temptation, which was just too great to bear, and purchased the pants.

Here’s the SAD part of the story….I only got to wear them ONCE before they were ruined by the evil clothes dryer!

Well, it’s really not the clothes dryer’s fault. I had INTENDED on washing them and then letting them air dry…because I feared they might shrink. But the hubster (bless his heart) got to the load of clothes in the washing machine before I did…and into the dryer they went!

When I went to take the clothes out of the dryer and saw the blue pants…I wanted to cry. My “laundry intuition” (something you develop after years and years and years of doing laundry for a family of 6!) told me they were no longer going to be wearable. Sure enough, they had shrunk in length a good four inches at least! *sob*

Well, I dried my bitter tears and decided to chalk it up to experience and put the pair of “floods” into a bag with a bunch of other outgrown t-shirt items that I like to save for future projects. I tried to move on with my life.

I was ALMOST over the whole horrible experience when I got an email from someone asking if I knew how they could UNSHRINK some article of clothing that had shrunk in the dryer. Hmm…sounded familiar. Of course I immediately thought of my blue pants that were wadded up in an old pillowcase with a bunch of other t-shirt cast-offs. Was UNSHRINKING something even POSSIBLE?  Sounded like some voodoo magic to me. But what the heck….it was worth a try.

So I commenced my research into this magic reversal process and was amazed to discover just how EASY it was to “UNSHRINK” clothing (and that it didn’t involve any sort of black magic whatsoever!)

What it DID involve was a sink full of lukewarm water, a capful of baby shampoo and two large beach towels. That’s it!


Here’s the HOW-TO:

Fill a sink with lukewarm water and add a capful of baby shampoo into the water. (Many tutorials I read said to use CONDITIONER…but this made more sense to me…so this is what I used.)


Let the item soak in the baby shampoo water and gently work it through. This will relax the fibers in the clothing.


Remove the garment from the shampoo water and gently squeeze it out. Do NOT rinse it.


Take a large towel and lay the clothing flat on it.


Roll the towel up with the clothing inside it.


Your goal is to absorb the extra moisture, so your clothing is damp but not wet.


Then, get another dry towel and put the piece of clothing out on the dry towel.


Gently stretch the clothing item as it lays out to dry.


Continue to do this until the clothing item returns to its original size. Allow the item to air dry on the towel.


Being the impatient person that I am, I set up a fan to make the drying time go faster and within about an hour or so they were dry! (Of course the fact that we practically live in the Sahara Desert didn’t hurt either.)

The anticipation was killing me so I immediately tried them on. (I guess I had some irrational fear that the stretching I did was an illusion?)

When I pulled them on and they were back to the exact same length they were when I bought them…I was beyond thrilled!!! (See picture at top.)

My “comfy pants” were back!

Now I can’t help thinking about all the clothes that got thrown away in the past because I did not know this trick! (There I go…”overthinking” again! lol)

So do everyone you know a favor…and spread the word before more innocent items of clothing meet a premature demise!


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  1. Penny Hannah says

    Just a request for information – why in the name of all that is wonderful, do you use a tumble dryer in your climate? It seems so wasteful and unnecessary, when nothing beats the feel and smell of line dried washing. I struggle with an indoor clothes airer in our damp, wet Scottish climate, but am too mean to use the tumble dryer except ‘in extremis’.

  2. Katie says

    LOVE IT!!! I have a favorite pair of gym pants that I can’t wear any more because I shrunk them! Totally trying this! Thanks again for your amazing tips!

  3. Stacey says

    I have “help” with laundry and had new items ruined also. Your pants were cotton knit though. What about clothing made from cotton that is not stretchy? I have a few nice white blouses that shrunk.

  4. Marce says

    You never cease to amaze me…Ah-Mazing! I never understood WHY the clothing manufacturers wouldn’t pre-shrink for us…obviously, most people use clothes dryers! The worst culprit…Men’s Flannel Shirts! Especially the sleeves! They become 3/4 length if put in the dryer, yes even the expensive ones…makes me so mad! Thanks for another Good Thing to know!

  5. Helen says

    Has anyone tried this on jeans? I have several pairs that fit perfectly until I washed them! Please help.

  6. KayDee says

    No matter my climate, I use a dryer on everything except a few of my daughter’s dresses and poplin (shake them out and hang so NO IRONING!) I do not like the smell and feel of line dried washing, especially if done outside. The clothes are scratchy and just not as soft. Not matter how much fabric softener is used in the wash. Also, I like the dryer for the sanitizing it does. I like killing germies. :)

  7. Midge Flinn says

    So, do you ever rinse the baby shampoo out? If the shampoo stays in, won’t it attract dirt? How do you wash them the next time they need it? This is an interesting trick, but I don’t want to have to repeat it every time the garment gets laundered.

    Thanks for all your tips. I can’t wait to read what cool new things you have discovered everyday!

  8. Kera says

    Something that has worked for me is to wet them with warm water (I just do this after the washer), put them on, and do all kinds of stretches in them lol. I usually just squat down a few times, and that stretches them Then I take them off and either hang them up to dry or lay them flat on a towel! I’m sure you could stretch the length also like she did with these.

  9. Kristin says

    I’m wondering the same thing as Stacey and Helen. Will this method work on items that aren’t a jersey? I might have to try it. You can’t lose anything if it doesn’t work – the clothes already don’t fit :)

  10. Mary Malone says

    Thanks again, Jillee! I have given to goodwill so many t shirts that have shrunk. Wow, this is a great idea!
    Mary Malone


  1. [...] While I recognize this is probably foolish, I didn’t really care until I shrunk my Juicy Couture velour pants.  The most comfortable item I own!  I wept until I found this brilliant solution. It does work, as evidenced by by Juicy sweatpants.  Bookmark.  You’ll need it eventually.  Many thanks to OneGoodThingByJillee [...]

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