How to Reverse Clothes Shrinking

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Home Improvement

It’s common for natural fabrics to shrink compared to man-made ones. If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of pulling out a shrunken garment from the dryer, there are ways to restore it to its original size, although they may not always be permanent. Here are some tips that could help you extend the life of your favorite clothes.

According to textile expert Deborah Young, fabrics like cotton, wool, and animal hair-based materials are more prone to shrinking, as well as rayon, which is surprisingly absorbent despite being a synthetic fabric. The shrinkage potential also depends on the garment’s construction, as loose construction can lead to more shrinkage, while knits tend to shrink more than woolens because of the air inside the knit.

If you need to restore your shrunken clothes, Young suggests washing it with mild soap and gently coaxing it to stretch out. You can massage the garment with your hands and use a towel to remove excess moisture. However, this method may not be permanent as the garment can shrink back up after a few washes.

If you’re dealing with cotton clothes, you can use a hair conditioner to stretch them out. Simply soak the shirt in a basin of warm water mixed with 3 tablespoons of hair conditioner for five minutes. Then, rinse it and stretch it out on a flat surface until it reaches your desired size. You can use cans or jars to hold the garment in place and let it air dry.

To unshrink jeans, you can spray some water on the tight areas and pull the fabric in all directions to relax the denim. Let it air dry.

To prevent clothes from shrinking, it’s important to read the labels and follow the instructions. Wool and rayon clothes can be washed, but not in a washing machine. Also, take shrink-prone clothes out of the dryer before they dry out completely and let them air dry instead.

Fascinating Information

Just because a label says “pre-shrunk” doesn’t mean it was washed before. It indicates that the fabric fibers are tightly packed together, which should decrease shrinkage. However, most “pre-shrunk” fabrics may still shrink by 3 to 7 percent when washed, which shouldn’t impact the fit significantly.

Originally Published: Feb 25, 2019

Questions and Answers about Unshrinking Clothes

Is it possible to unshrink clothing?
It’s impossible to entirely unshrink fabric, but there are methods to loosen the fibers and bring them closer to their original shape.
How can you unshrink clothes?
Fill a tub with lukewarm water and add a small amount of shampoo. Mix it well and submerge the item of clothing for 30 minutes. Remove the water and lay the clothing item flat on a towel to air dry.
How can you unshrink pure wool?
Fill your sink with water and add a small amount of detergent. Soak your wool sweater for 20 minutes, then rinse it out.
Is it possible to restore a shirt that has shrunk?
The best way to stretch a shrunken piece of clothing back to its original size is to use hot water mixed with shampoo or conditioner.
Can viscose shrink in the dryer?
Drying viscose in the dryer may cause it to shrink and become damaged. Instead, lay it flat on a drying rack.


1. Can you actually unshrink clothes?

Yes, you can unshrink clothes! While it is difficult to completely reverse the shrinking process, there are a few methods you can try to stretch out the fibers and regain some of the lost size.

2. What materials can be unshrunk?

Most natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, and cashmere, can potentially be unshrunk. Synthetic fibers, such as polyester and nylon, are more difficult to unshrink because they are not as responsive to heat and moisture.

3. What is the most common method for unshrinking clothes?

The most common method for unshrinking clothes is to soak them in a mixture of lukewarm water and hair conditioner or baby shampoo. After soaking for a period of time, gently stretch the garment back to its original size and lay it flat to dry.

4. Can you use a clothes dryer to unshrink clothes?

No, using a clothes dryer to unshrink clothes is not recommended. The high heat and tumbling action of the dryer can actually shrink the garment even further.

5. How long does it take to unshrink clothes?

The amount of time it takes to unshrink clothes depends on the severity of the shrinking and the method used. Some methods may only take a few hours, while others may require overnight soaking and stretching.

6. Are there any risks involved in unshrinking clothes?

There is a risk of damaging the fabric or causing it to become misshapen during the unshrinking process. It is important to be gentle and patient when attempting to unshrink clothes.

7. Can you prevent clothes from shrinking in the first place?

Yes, there are a few measures you can take to prevent clothes from shrinking. Always read the care label and follow the washing instructions carefully. Avoid using hot water and high heat settings in the dryer, and consider air-drying delicate garments.

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