Have you ever pulled something out of the dryer only to realize that it shrunk down a size or two? It can be frustrating, especially when it’s your favorite shirt. But don’t worry, ZIPS has got you covered! In this blog, we’ll explain why clothes shrink in the laundry, how you can prevent it from happening in the first place, and most importantly, how to unshrink clothing in the worst-case scenario. So, let’s dive in and get your clothes back to their original size!

Why Do Clothes Shrink in the Laundry?

A handful of different factors can cause clothes to shrink in the laundry. Fabric type plays a big role in how a garment retains its size. For example, cotton, linen, and other natural fibers are prone to shrinkage because they quickly absorb moisture.

Washing natural fabrics and materials like cashmere and wool too vigorously can tighten the fibers in the garment and cause it to shrink. Additionally, agitation and high temperatures in the washing and drying cycles can cause clothes to shrink. Unless you need to remove stubborn stains from your clothes, set your washer to a lower temperature setting or according to the label.

How Do You Prevent Clothes From Shrinking?

The best way to ensure your favorite clothes always fit perfectly is to prevent them from shrinking in the first place. Before we delve into how to unshrink clothes step-by-step, here are a few tips to prevent your garments from shrinking in the first place. Following this simple advice could save you a lot of time and headaches moving forward.

Each type of fabric and garment has its own set of care instructions, so always be sure to wash them accordingly. An easy way to accomplish this is to separate your laundry into different piles and organize your clothes according to the materials they contain. If possible, you will want to keep clothing composed of the same fabrics together to ensure consistency.

Agitation and heat are also big perpetrators when it comes to shrinking clothing. Subjecting your favorite garments and clothing to extremely high temperatures in the washing machine or dryer could cause them to shrink or stretch out of shape. Wherever possible, you should use cold water and tumble-dry settings when cleaning your clothes. If possible, try air-drying your laundry to avoid the heat altogether.

Can You Unshrink Clothes?

It is possible to unshrink most clothes and garments. In most scenarios, all you need is a container full of warm water with a capful of liquid detergent. Next, make sure to add in your clothes and stir them into the solution until they are completely soaked. Gently wring out the clothing to expel excess liquid and gently stretch the clothing back to its original size. Use the following steps for more detailed instructions.

How to Fix Shrunken Clothes (Step-by-Step)

Woman hand washing garment

1. Use Lukewarm Water and Gentle Detergents/Shampoos

The first thing you need to do to unshrink clothes is clean your sink or tub and fill it with lukewarm water and a capful of liquid laundry detergent. We recommend using delicate laundry detergent or gentle shampoo for this process. Baby shampoos are another excellent choice for fixing shrunken clothes.

2. Soak for 30 Minutes

Next, you will need to immerse your garments in the lukewarm water and detergent mixture for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. In order to achieve the best results, you should leave the garments soaking undisturbed for the entire time. Soaking your clothing this way will cause the fibers to loosen up and make it easier for you to unshrink your garments.

3. Let Excess Water Drip

After letting your clothing soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour, gently remove it from the mixture. Hold your garments above the bucket or tub and give it a minute to drip any excess water. Be sure not to rinse out your clothing or wring it out. You will want to leave the baby shampoo or detergent in the garment to continue to relax the fibers.

4. Lay Clothing on a Flat Towel

Once you let your clothing drip out any excess water, lay it down flat on a large bath towel. You will then need to roll up the towel with the clothing inside and let it sit like this for 10 to 15 minutes. After letting it sit in the towel for a few minutes, the garment should still be a little damp.

5. Gently Stretch the Clothing to Its Original Size

Finally, it’s time to stretch your garment back to its original shape and size. To do this, you will need to grab a second bath towel and lay it on a flat surface. Place the clothes on top of the towel.

Next, focus on one section of the clothing and gently tug at the opposite sides of that area on the shrunken garment with your hands. Hold each stretch in place for a few seconds so that it retains that size.

If you are unshrinking a shirt, grasp at both side seams near the bottom hem to unshrink the waist. If you need to lengthen the arms of a long-sleeve shirt, tug at the shoulder and the inner seam near the cuff. Be sure to carefully stretch the garment when unshrinking so that it remains proportional.

After you stretch the desired section back to its original size, lay it flat against the towel and place a heavy object on top of the section to hold the stretch in place. Let the clothing dry with the heavy object on top of it.

Once it dries completely, it should be ready to wear. The clothing should not feel stiff or soapy because of the baby shampoo or gentle detergent; however, if it does feel off to you, you can wash it as you normally would before wearing it– just be sure to follow the instructions this time to avoid shrinking it again.

More Tips for Unshrinking Clothes & Garments

  • Instead of using a conditioner or baby shampoo, you can create a vinegar solution by mixing one part white vinegar with three parts lukewarm water. Soak the clothes in this solution for about 30 minutes before gently stretching and reshaping them. Always test the solution first on an inconspicuous spot before soaking the fabric.
  • There are also commercially available fabric stretching sprays for unshrinking clothes. Follow the instructions on the spray bottle to apply it to the shrunken garment, and stretch and reshape accordingly.
  • Try to use a blocking method. Blocking is a knitting technique commonly used to shape and stretch garments. To do this, lay the damp clothing on a clean towel or blocking mat, and pin it in the desired shape and size using rust-resistant pins. Next, allow it to air dry in this stretched position.
  • If the garment can tolerate steam, you can use a steamer or a steam iron to help relax the fibers. Gently hover the steamer or iron over the shrunken areas while pulling and stretching the fabric.

Let the Pros Take Care of It

Checking out at ZIPS

Clothes can shrink in the laundry due to a variety of factors, including fabric type, agitation, and high temperatures. However, by washing garments according to their care instructions and using cold water and gentle settings, you can avoid shrinking your favorite clothes.

If you do find yourself with shrunken clothes, the step-by-step process above can help you get them looking as good as new. Always remember to be patient and gentle with your garments when stretching them back to their original size.

To prevent any laundry mishaps in the future, consider trusting ZIPS to ensure that your clothes are professionally cleaned and maintained. At ZIPS, we treat your garments with the utmost care to maximize their longevity and ensure they have the best fit every day of the week. Find a location near you, and let us take care of it today!