How to Unshrink Clothes

Did you shrink your favorite piece of clothing? Learn how to unshrink clothes, so they fit again.

Clothes shrinkage happens during heat cycles in the washer and dryer. While it’s much easier to shrink clothes than unshrink them, there are a few methods you can try.

How to Unshrink Clothes

Your chances of success are greater if you’ve experienced minor shrinkage. 

How to Unshrink Clothes

The best method for unshrinking clothes depends on the material.

Unshrinking Cotton and Wool Shirts

To unshrink cotton and wool blouses or shirts, here’s what to do:

  • Fill a bucket or sink with warm water
  • Add a cap full of conditioner and swirl it in the water to mix
  • Soak the shirt for 30 minutes
  • Stretch the shirt to the desired shape

The conditioner and warm water help loosen the fabric’s fibers, working for any shirt or blouse with a little stretch. 

After reshaping the shirt, wash it in cold water and allow it to air dry. You can lay it flat to dry, arranging it in its desired shape.

Unshrink Your Jeans

There are two methods of unshrinking jeans. The first method is messy but will mold the jeans to your body. 

Here’s how to unshrink jeans by wearing them in the bathtub:

  • Fill the bathtub with lukewarm water
  • Put on your jeans (button them if you can)
  • Sit in the bathtub for ten minutes
  • Get out of the bathtub, walk around and do a couple of squats

Once the jeans feel loosened, take them off and allow them to air dry.

If you don’t want to sit in the bathtub in jeans, I don’t blame you. Here’s an alternative method that works well:

  • Fill the bathtub with lukewarm water
  • Add a tbsp of baby shampoo and swirl the mixture
  • Soak your jeans for 30 minutes
  • Remove them and pull on any tight areas to loosen the fibers
  • Hang the jeans to air dry

Most of the time, water is all you need to loosen your jeans. If water doesn’t work, add a small amount of conditioner or baby shampoo to help relax the cotton fibers.

How to Unshrink Synthetic Fibers ( Polyester)

Synthetic fibers like polyester are hard to shrink. But if you shrink a synthetic fabric, you can use water and conditioner to shape it back to size.

Start by filling a bucket with lukewarm water. Then add a cap of hair conditioner and stir. Next, soak the shirt for 30 minutes. After soaking, wring out excess water and lay it in the desired shape you’d like it to dry.

Tips for Unshrinking Clothes

  • Don’t use the iron for unshrinking clothes. High heat causes clothes to shrink – not unshrink.
  • If you don’t have hair conditioner, you can unshrink your clothes with fabric softener. Add ⅓ cup of fabric softener to a bucket of warm water. Conditioner and fabric softener both help clothing fibers relax, making them easier to stretch.
  • Clothing items with a little stretch are easiest to unshrink. You may have little luck with fabrics like silk or rayon.
  • A wool sweater that went from adult to toddler size in the dryer may not be salvageable. You can try soaking it in lukewarm water with a conditioner or fabric softener. 

How to Prevent Clothes from Shrinking

While it’s easy to unshrink jeans, wool sweaters are a different story. To avoid a clothing disaster, it’s best to prevent shrinkage in the first place. 

Read the care tags on your clothing, and don’t dry fabrics like wool, silk, and linen on high heat. If you’re worried about a clothing item shrinking, wash it in cold water and line-dry it.