Even with over 100 posts about solutions to common laundry problems under my belt, I’m not surprised that how to unshrink clothes continues to be among the most popular! I’m sure most of us have found ourselves wondering how to to fix a shirt that shrunk in the dryer at some point because we forgot to heed the laundry care symbols on the tag.
Luckily, you’re in the right place for that, because discovering and sharing solutions to clothing catastrophes like shrinkage is kind of my thing! In this post, you’ll learn a simple, 3-step method you can use for unshrinking clothes. I’ve also got additional tips to share about how to unshrink specific fabrics and how to prevent clothes from shrinking in the first place. So let’s get started!
To see it in action, check out the video I’ve included for you at the end of the post!
How To Unshrink Clothes Back To Their Original Size: A Step-By-Step Guide
To unshrink most clothing, soak the item in a solution of lukewarm water and a capful of baby shampoo. Gently knead the item with your hands to relax the fibers. Gently pat or roll dry with a towel, and then use your hands to gently tug and stretch the item out to its original size. Allow the item to air dry, and you’re done!
Get the step-by-step instructions below!
- Bucket or sink
- Baby shampoo
- 2 large, clean bath towels
Step 1 – Soak The Garment
Fill a sink, tub, or bucket with lukewarm water, then add a capful (or a couple teaspoons) of baby shampoo. Place the item you want to unshrink into the sudsy water and let it soak for a minute or two. While it’s soaking, gently knead the item with your hands to help relax the fibers.
Remove the item from the warm water and gently squeeze it to remove some of the excess water (but don’t wring or rinse it!)
Step 2 – Use A Towel To Absorb Excess Water
Lay a large, clean bath towel out on a flat surface, then lay the clothing item out flat on top of it. Roll up the towel from one end so the clothing item is wrapped inside, then gently press on the towel to absorb the excess water. Unroll the damp towel and set it aside.
Step 3 – Gently Stretch & Reshape The Garment
Grab your second bath towel and lay the damp piece of clothing on it, then use your hands to gently stretch the item out to its original size. Finally, leave the clothing item on the towel and allow it to air dry completely (or speed up the process by setting up a fan on low nearby).
Wait… No Rinsing?
The directions above don’t mention rinsing the shampoo out of the garment, and that’s because in my experience, there’s not enough shampoo in the water to make rinsing necessary. In fact, the slight amount of shampoo residue actually help keep the fibers pliable during the stretching process, so I say skip the rinse and don’t worry about it!
No Shampoo? Try Using Conditioner Instead!
I prefer using baby shampoo here because it works well and I don’t have to rinse it out. If you don’t have baby shampoo on hand, you can unshrink your clothing with a bit of hair conditioner instead. Soak the item in lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon of conditioner for about 30 minutes, then proceed to steps 2 and 3.
Note: Conditioner can leave behind a residue that attracts dirt, so you may want to do rinse the item with clean water after soaking!
How To Prevent Clothes From Shrinking In The First Place
When it comes to annoying laundry problems, shrinking is right near the top of my list. Luckily, it’s also totally avoidable! To avoid shrinkage, follow the instructions on the care labels of your clothes and linens, and take your laundry out of the dryer while it’s still a bit damp.
Most modern dryers offer some sort of “less dry” option, which makes it really easy. When washing clothes, use the least amount of agitation you can get away with. Be particularly careful when washing new clothes before you wear them — you don’t want your beautiful new sweater coming out of the wash child-sized!
BONUS: Helpful Tips For Unshrinking Specific Materials
Some materials are easier to unshrink than others. The table below has additional tips that can help you fine-tune the process!
|Cotton & Cotton Blends
|Because of the way cotton fibers are stretched during the manufacturing process, cotton garments can shrink multiple times if you’re not careful. But on the bright side, cotton is one of the easiest fabrics to unshrink! Follow the steps above and your cotton clothes will be back to their original shape in no time.
|Cashmere, Wool & Other Animal Fibers
|Natural fibers like wool may be more difficult to stretch back out, especially if the fabric has a tight knit, but this method can still work. Try gently pulling and stretching out the shrunken garment while it’s still submerged in the sudsy water.
|Synthetics (Polyester, Rayon, etc.)
|This method can works really well on synthetic fabrics. Just make sure to be very gentle when stretching them so you don’t accidentally go too far.
|To unshrink denim jeans, you’ll need a slightly different approach. First, put the jeans on and sit in a lukewarm bath for about 15 minutes. Pat yourself down with a dry towel so the jeans aren’t dripping wet, then move around in them for an hour or so. (I know it sounds odd, but it works!)
Have you ever successfully un-shrunk a clothing item?