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How to Shrink Clothes: Shrink Cotton, Jeans, Polyester, and More

It may not be the first thing to occur to us to shrink new clothes, even though we need to tighten them a little bit. But we all end up with a shirt at some time that has a more elongated hemline, pulled sleeves, or just a little bit too wide. Stretching is part of the usual wear-and-tear of your clothing. And oftentimes, it stretches out in the parts that make our garments unflattering! Don’t worry, you can still salvage your favorite clothing, and all you need is a few washing machine hacks so you can keep your clothes forever fashionable and flattering! Yes, you got it: time to shrink clothing!

But before you start shrinking your clothes, it is important to take note of the following:
  1. Different materials require different methods. You can’t just go ahead and shrink them in warm water or put them in the dryer on high heat. Make sure to read the labels to know the fabrics used in your garments before starting your shrinking process. Natural fibers such as cotton, wool or silk typically shrink more readily than synthetic, man-made ones. It’s not only the material from which your clothes are made, but also how they’ve been made. You should also look out for pre-shrunk fabric, as they all go back to their original shape after your regular washing cycle.
  2. Take your time in shrinking. While you may be eager to shrink your clothing, it is essential to note that shrinking is rarely an instantaneous operation, and you may not want it to be! If you’re not careful, garments and fabrics can shrink too fast, so be sure to take your time and track your piece to make sure it shrinks slowly and evenly. As a general rule, to make sure that all is on board, you can remove your garment every five minutes or so. As a general rule, especially when using a high heat dryer, checking every five minutes is a must to ensure that your clothes are on the right track.
Now that we’ve got the reminders covered, it’s time to get to work! Here’s how you can shrink your clothing depending on their material:

Shrinking Cotton

If you want to shrink cotton clothing, it is easy as cotton fabric shrinks the best. But since cotton clothing can bleed, make sure to separate the colors from the whites.

  1. Wash your cotton garment using hot water. If using a washing machine, set your water temperature to high.
  2. Immediately put it in the dryer on a high temperature as well. Make sure that your clothes do not cool down before setting it into the dryer, as the threads and fibers will loosen up and they will not shrink properly.
  3. Check the size of the garment during the drying period at different stages. This is particularly important if you’re washing the garment for the first time and it’s not a pre-shrunk garment. Set the dryer to low heat/air dry if it looks small enough and leave it to run until the garment is dry.
  4. When you get your desired size, let them air dry on a rack. Avoid hanging them on a line while they are wet, as this will stretch out the fibers.

Shrinking Denim

Shrinking denim also requires hot temperatures in order to achieve your desired results. And it actually requires the same steps as when shrinking your cotton garments! Refer to the steps on how to shrink cotton and apply the same techniques to your jeans and you can achieve just the same results.

Shrinking Polyester

Unlike cotton fabric, polyester shrinks less. However, you can still shrink them down by following these steps:

  1. Wash your polyester clothes using cold water.
  2. Put your clothes in the dryer and set it on high heat.
  3. Run your dryer until your clothes are completely dry.

Shrinking Wool

Be extra careful when attempting to shrink your clothes made of wool. Wool is especially sensitive to heat, so make sure to check your temperature levels properly before starting to shrink them. If you wash and dry them in high heat, it may shrink drastically, which you do not want to happen.

  1. Sprinkle it with warm water to shrink your wool sweater just a little, and put it on medium heat in the dryer. To ensure that it doesn’t shrink too much, check it regularly.
  2. Wash on medium heat to shrink the sweater significantly, and dry on medium heat.
  3. Dampen the sweater with warm water and iron it until dry for more even results.

Shrinking Clothes with Pre-shrunk Fabric

The manufacturer manipulates pre-shrunk clothing using a controlled process to shrink the fabric prior to selling them. After purchasing, pre-shrunk clothes may be washed and dried and the material is typically able to return to its initial form. However, if you notice a bit of stretching and you want to make it look as new, here are some steps:

  1. Bring water to a boil. Afterwards, soak your garment in it. Take note that your clothes should be fully covered and submerged in hot water.
  2. Transfer your clothes to the washing machine. (Be careful to not burn yourself!)
  3. Wash your clothes in hot water, and use just a small amount of laundry detergent.
  4. As soon as the cycle ends, load it in the dryer and set it on high.
  5. Check your garments from time to time.
  6. If you are still not satisfied with the results, you can repeat these steps until you get your desired size.

Don’t get discouraged when your favorite garments start stretching. You don’t have to toss it away, because you can always bring it back to its usual form. Now that you know how to properly shrink your clothes to fit better, get working on all your old clothing and give them a second chance!