Texas Living

How to Unshrink Your Clothes

By Abi Grise Morgan 2.7.24

Shrink happens. Maybe you misplaced a delicate cashmere sweater with a load of blue jeans. Or you accidentally washed athleticwear on hot. We’ve all been there, but don’t worry. You can gently nudge clothes back to their original shape with a few tricks.

Why Garments Shrink

Garments almost always have care instructions sewn somewhere into a seam — and they’re essential to follow to protect clothing’s longevity. Some fabrics cannot withstand high agitation or temperatures and will shrink or become misshapen when washed differently than instructed. This is especially true for natural fibers like cotton, linen, cashmere, and wool, which easily absorb moisture.

How to Unshrink Clothes

Unshrinking your clothes is easy and requires common household items. It may take up to 24 hours for the garment to dry completely, so start the process a day or two before you plan to wear it.

What You Need

  • A sink/tub large enough to fully submerge your garment in water
  • Delicate liquid laundry detergent or baby shampoo
  • Two large towels
  • A heavy, flat object slightly larger than your garment

Step 1: Soak

Mix a capful of gentle detergent or baby shampoo into lukewarm water in your tub/sink. Immerse your garment in this mixture and let it soak, undisturbed, for between 30 and 60 minutes. This will loosen up the fibers.

Step 2: Let Excess Water Drip Off

Gently pick up your garment and hold it above the water for a minute to allow excess water to drip off. Do not rinse or wring it out — you want some baby shampoo or detergent to stay in the fibers.

Step 3: Lay It Out

Lay your garment flat onto a large towel. Then, roll up the towel with the clothing inside (sushi roll style) and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Your garment will still be damp, and that’s OK.

Step 4: Give It a Stretch

Spread the second bath towel over a flat surface. Place the garment on top. Then, gently pull two opposite sides of the garment at once. Hold for a few seconds. Continue stretching in sections until you’ve stretched out the entire garment.

Step 5: Let It Dry

With the garment still laid out on the towel, place a flat, heavy object (like a coffee table book wrapped in plastic wrap or a flat wooden board) on top and leave it to dry completely. When it comes time to wash your unshrunk garment again, make sure to follow the instructions on the label.

You can also extend the life of your wardrobe by storing clothes properly.

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