How to Unshrink Clothes and Make Them Wearable Again

Published March 16, 2021
How to unshrink clothes

Did your favorite sweater come out of the dryer significantly smaller? Rather than panic, learn how to unshrink clothes with a few simple tools. Get tips and tricks for unshrinking any fabric type, including cotton, jeans, wool, and more.

Can You Unshrink Clothes?

If you put your favorite sweater in the dryer by accident, technically, you can't unshrink it. However, all hope is not lost, friend. While you can't unshrink it, fibers of most fabrics do stretch. Therefore, you can stretch the fibers back into their original shape. This will take a bit of patience, but you will be able to wear your favorite jeans again.

How to Unshrink Clothes

If you wash a t-shirt improperly, it's likely to shrink. This is why reading the care tag is so important. But, it happens so much to so many people that many hacks are available. This method will work for most fabrics like cotton, cotton blends, polyester, and rayon. To get your clothes back in the proper shape, you need:

  • Fabric softener, hair conditioner, or baby shampoo

  • Books or paperweight

  • Large towels

  • Water bottle

Steps to Unshrinking Your Clothing

You've got your laundry arsenal prepared. It's time to grab your shrunken clothing and get to work!

  1. Fill your sink or tub with warm water.

  2. Add a tablespoon or two of conditioner, baby shampoo, or fabric softener. (You need enough of the conditioner to get the fibers of the material to relax.)

  3. Give it a little mix just to make sure that the conditioner is spread throughout the water.

  4. Completely submerge the clothing in the mixture.

  5. Allow it to sit for about 30-45 minutes.

  6. After a good soaking, remove the clothing and let it drip dry for a minute or two. (Do not rinse.)

  7. Place the clothing on a towel and roll out the excess water. (You can even let the clothing sit in the towel for 5-10 minutes to absorb more water. Your looking for damp, not soaked.)

  8. Pull the clothing out of the towel and start gently tugging on the areas that need to be stretched. For example, if the bottom needs to be stretch, gently pull on both sides near the hem. (It's important to be firm but gentle.)

  9. Once everything is perfectly stretched, lay the garment down on a clean table or flat area.

  10. Use books or paperweights on the area you stretched to ensure they stay stretched while drying.

  11. Once completely dry, you should be good to go.

It can be helpful to have a bottle on hand with water and your preferred clothing conditioner. This way, if an area becomes too dry during the stretching process, you can give it a good spritz.

Clothes in bathtub

How to Unshrink Jeans

Agast! You've shrunken your favorite pair of jeans accidentally. While the above method can work, there are also a few other methods you can try. For unshrinking your jeans, you need:

  • Water bottle

  • Bathtub

  • Books

Spritz Method for Unshrinking Jeans

If you just have a few areas of your jeans that you need to stretch out, you can opt for the water bottle method.

  1. Fill a water bottle with warm water.

  2. Lay the jeans on a flat surface.

  3. Spray down the area of your jeans that need stretching.

  4. Tug on the wet areas to stretch them as needed. For example, if you need to stretch the legs down, tug them down. To open the waist, pull the waist.

  5. Place books on the stretched areas and allow them to dry flat.

  6. Alternatively, for jeans that need the legs lengthened, you can pin the jeans' hem to a line and allow them to dry on a line.

Bathtub Method for Unshrinking Jeans

This method for unshrinking your jeans can be a bit more uncomfortable, but it's so effective.

  1. Fill a tub with enough warm water to cover you when sitting in it. (The water should be warm enough you won't be uncomfortable.)

  2. Put on your jeans. (If you can't button them, don't worry about it. Just get them on as best you can.)

  3. Sit in the water for 15-30 minutes.

  4. Start tugging on the tight areas as you soak, like buttoning the waist.

  5. Get out and towel off.

  6. Wear the jeans for a while; make sure to move around like squatting and stretching to loosen the fabric.

  7. Pull them off and lay flat to dry.

How to Unshrink Wool and Cashmere Clothes

When it comes to clothes and shrinkage, wool and cashmere are among the top contenders. Learn quick tips for getting your wool sweater wearable again. To get started, you need:

  • White vinegar

  • Borax

  • Towel

Steps to Unshrink Your Wool

When it comes to unshrinking your merino wool, you can use the conditioner method. However, this method also works.

  1. Fill your sink with lukewarm water.

  2. Add a tablespoon of both Borax and white vinegar.

  3. Soak the clothing for 30 minutes.

  4. After about five or so minutes of soak, start gently restretching your garment while under the water.

  5. After 30 minutes, pull it out and roll it in a towel to squeeze the water out.

  6. Continue to stretch the material until it is the desired fit.

  7. Lay flat to dry.

Pile of knitted sweaters of different colors and patterns perfectly stacked

How to Ensure Your Clothing Doesn't Shrink

It happens to the best of us. You don't look at a tag, and bam, your favorite sweater can now fit your daughter. While there are ways to stretch your clothing back out, it's essential to ensure they don't shrink in the first place by following a few tips.

  • Pay attention to care labels and water temperature. Using the wrong water temperature or drying something that shouldn't be dried is typically the culprit of many accidental shrinkages.

  • Sort your laundry. If you properly sort laundry, this can help avoid your wool sweater getting washed with your cotton shirts.

  • Follow drying instructions. Knowing how to properly air dry specific materials can be crucial to making sure your items don't shrink.

Unshrink Your Clothing With Ease

While, technically, you can't unshrink clothing, you can stretch the fibers back out. However, this is going to take a bit of finessing and a lot of patience. Once you get your clothes back to good, it's essential to make sure you keep it up by following proper laundry instructions.

How to Unshrink Clothes and Make Them Wearable Again