How to Shrink Clothes: 6 Best Methods to Shrink Fabric - Sewing Guide (2023)

The Shrinkage Conundrum - Why Should I Shrink My Clothes? Why you should?

Well, for many reasons.

Maybe you received this cute sweatshirt as a gift, but it's a little too big. Maybe you bought yourself a nice hoodie, and although you thought it was perfect in the showroom, now you feel like you need to go smaller to fit better.

Or you may have stretched the clothes yourself, carelessly squeezing them to remove the water and line drying or, even worse, machine drying.

Or, luckily, you lost weight after buying the pants.

Or the scenario that happened to me (I wish it was the above): ordering online. I always order larger sizes because I hate returning things and all the paperwork that goes with it just because it's smaller - the feeling sucks. So, apart from swallowing the bitter pill of donating the clothes, I don't see any other way, other than trying to reduce it so that it fits me, which is easier than altering it.

How to Shrink Clothes: 6 Best Methods to Shrink Fabric - Sewing Guide (1)

What clothes come in?

As a seamstress (seamstress, seamstress, seamstress, whatever), I am familiar with fabrics that shrink, a lot! After fabrics are purchased, they are almost always shrunk before reaching the cutting table.

This is because most fabric fibers stretch during the manufacturing process (which has to do with economy. Read more about this in the post here)How not to shrink clothes) When these fibers come into contact with water and are then subjected to washing agitation, they return to their original size (smaller) once dry.

(Video) How to Make Clothes Shrink

Fabrics that do not pre-shrink before cutting and sewing will shrink after the finished garment is washed.

A shirt you bought that fits you perfectly and hugs you in all the right places can make you look horrible after the first wash and pinch you in all the wrong places.

Fabrics that shrink and those that don't.

Some fabrics tend to shrink more than others. Assuming you have this fleece jacket, it will definitely shrink after washing. Unless it's preshrunk wool fiber. My favorite gingham flannel. I know it's going to shrink.

Cotton shrinks, as do most natural fabrics such as linen, cashmere, mohair, boucle, organza, georgette, dupioni, and Thai silk. Most of my clothes from the stores are made of viscose, woven, it usually shrinks.

Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon don't shrink, so you'll only end up frustrated if you try. Do not attempt to shrink clothing marked "Dry Clean Only", leather, fur, suede, beaded fabrics, canvas, upholstery fabrics, PVC, heavy-duty nylon. Check out this detailed related post:Does polyester shrink?

An anti-shrink treatment is becoming more common for natural fabrics that are likely to shrink.textile care labelsays the garment's fabric is shrink-treated or pre-shrunk (another treatment to prevent shrinkage), leave it alone: ​​give the shirt to someone else.

A list of fabrics that show their susceptibility to shrinkage.

How to Shrink Clothes: 6 Best Methods to Shrink Fabric - Sewing Guide (2)

The best ways to shrink clothes

The methods you can use to shrink clothes

(Video) How to Shrink Clothes : Great Fashion Tips

1. Normal machine wash

If the clothes are machine washable, try that first. Agitation in the machine and subsequent drying cause many garments to shrink. Cotton, denim, linen, hemp, jersey material (T-shirt fabric), microfiber are fabrics that shrink this way. Use lukewarm water if the fabric allows it and a mild detergent.

2. Soak in warm water

This is the most common method used to shrink clothing/fabric. This can ensure uniform shrinkage.

Soak the clothes in lukewarm water for a while before rinsing. You can store more than 6 hours (even overnight). Now wash with detergent and rinse well. Dry completely. Do not wring to remove water, simply pat dry after pressing against pool walls to remove excess water. Depending on the fabric, you may need to try this method more than once.

This is the best way to shrink denim, khaki, denim, corduroy, etc. You can use this method on cotton and silk clothing.

You cannot use this method on heavily stained clothing, as the colors may fade; you may need to reduce the soak time. Satin and crepe shouldn't get soggy this way either.

3. Steam iron

This is the method of shrinking using the steam function of your steam iron. You need a steam iron with a good reservoir and good steam pressure.

If you have wool clothes, this is the best way to shrink them. Silk fibers in dupioni and Thai silk can also shrink this way, as can loose weaves and organza, cashmere, tweed, boucle, camel, and mohair. Velvet and velor fabrics shrink inside out this way. Do not try this on silk if you have a faulty steamer. Water stains appear.

Simply fill the steam iron with water and set it to high heat. Do not overfill. Use the press function. The steam and heat from the iron create a condition that favors shrinkage. This can be used for clothing that tends to wrinkle when washed.

Do not iron as this can distort the fabric.

(Video) How to Shrink an Oversized Shirt: Make it fit sis!

Do not use this method on viscose or silk fabrics. You can develop water spots, which is worse.

How to steam and shrink clothes

Pass the iron about a half inch above the fabric and slowly move it downward. Do not hang to dry after steaming, just lie flat.

4. Wet sheet

This is the method of shrinking by pressing the fabric/clothing with a piece of wet fabric held on top. The moistened piece of cloth is held over the garment and repeatedly hot ironed until the garment shrinks. If you have a very heavy dry iron this works great

For stiff, tightly woven cotton fabrics that you don't want to wash, you can sponge with a damp cloth, then iron with a hot iron.

5. Schneider Steam Press

This is a variant of the steam ironing described above - the equipment is much more professional. Professional tailors have steam and vacuum tables with their corresponding drying plates with built-in water and drainage, as well as an air compressor.

If you want to replicate this, you'll need a heavy-duty steam iron, which is much heavier and can reach a much higher temperature than your home iron.

6. Manipulation of substances

This method is used by professional tailors to shrink selected parts of clothing; this is typically used in bespoke tailoring. Like adjusting a sleeve to the contour of the arms or handling a dart. Hot dry press is used to shrink portions of pattern pieces so they will work as desired by the tailor/seamstress.

Another manipulation is what you can do yourself without any equipment. If your wool sweater has gone out of shape, you can try this: After it's damp, lay it flat, set it to the smallest size you want, and let it dry on its own - the fibers can dry in the same position and your clothes would shrink.

(Video) ✅🌺2 Fascinating Ways to Fix Wide Armholes

Related Post:6 ways to make a dress smaller

All fabrics require special care to prevent damage or shrinkage due to normal wear and tear and cleaning.

See related posts for tips:

  • How to care for wool
  • wash and take care of clothes
  • Silk washing and care.
  • Wash and condition acetate
  • Care labels for wool clothing
  • wash rayon clothes.

Updated Oct 23, 2022 by Sarina Tariq

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What is the best way to shrink clothes? ›

For example, both cotton shirts and denim jeans will shrink more in a warm or hot wash, followed by a high heat drying cycle. Steam heat will effectively shrink wool clothes, and some fabrics will even shrink when soaked for long periods in warm water.

What is the easiest way to shrink? ›

Regardless of the type of garment—shirts, cotton, hoodies, and pants/jeans—or fabric, from rayon to 100 percent cotton, the most common process for potentially shrinking clothes is to machine wash them with hot water and machine dry them with high heat.

What is the best way to shrink cotton clothes? ›

Shrinking Cotton
  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. ...
  3. Check the size of the garment during the drying period at different stages. ...
  4. When you get your desired size, let them air dry on a rack.

What shrinks your clothes the most? ›

What causes clothes to shrink? Agitation and high temperatures in the washing and drying cycles can distort fabric and cause clothes to shrink. Washing fabrics, such as cotton, linen or wool, too vigorously can cause the fibers to tighten together and yield a shrunken garment.

Do you shrink clothes in hot or cold water? ›

Washing cotton in hot water

Washing cotton in hot water can cause shrinkage. While cotton fabrics tend to have a maximum shrinkage capacity, heat can cause your cotton items to permanently shrink. Avoid this by using cold water when washing cotton, or alternating between warm and cold washes.

What is the easiest material to shrink? ›

Cotton. Cotton is by far the easiest fabric to shrink during the laundry process. During the construction of cotton clothing, tension is applied to its fabrics and then the tension is released by heat from the washer or dryer, which causes the cotton to revert to its natural size.

What is the fastest way to shrink a shirt? ›

Place your shirt in a washing machine and wash it in hot water on a high agitation setting. At the end of the wash cycle, remove the shirt from the washer and tumble-dry it using the dryer's highest heat setting. If you want to shrink the shirt further, you can repeat this process more than once.

What temperature shrinks clothes? ›

Unfortunately, certain fibers can shrink and weaken in hot (above 130 degrees Fahrenheit) water, but won't get a deep, thorough cleaning in anything considered too cold (between 60 to 80 degrees).

Does cold water shrink clothes? ›

Cold-water washing means clothing is less likely to shrink or fade and ruin clothes. Cold water can also reduce wrinkles, which saves energy costs (and time) associated with ironing.

Can you shrink clothes by just drying them? ›

However, if you machine dry the clothing, it can indeed shrink for good. “When water is removed from the fiber with the help of mechanical action (i.e. tumbling), additional shrinkage called 'drying shrinkage' can occur,” Fossumsaid.

How much can you shrink clothes? ›

You'll most likely shrink your clothing between 1 and 3 percent, or up to two sizes. That means a dress that's 35 inches long can lose up to one inch in length.

Does 100% cotton shrink every time? ›

Luckily, cotton typically only shrinks once. The fibers could continue tightening if you keep washing the item in hot water and tumble-drying it on high heat. But generally speaking, most of the contracting will happen on the first laundry cycle.

Can you shrink 100% cotton in the dryer? ›

Whether your clothing is crafted from 100% cotton or a premium cotton blend, you should know that any clothing that contains cotton can shrink when subjected to high heat. To prevent shrinking, you should use appropriate protocols, i.e., cold water, delicate wash cycles, and low dryer settings.

Does 100% cotton always shrink? ›

It's absolutely normal for clothes made from 100% cotton to shrink, especially if they haven't been pre-shrunk. Pre-shrunk cotton will generally only shrink 2-5%. Non pre-shrunk cotton, on the other hand, can shrink as much 20% if you're not careful. This is only true for 100% cotton, however.

Does fabric shrink more in length or width? ›

Generally speaking (though there are plenty of exceptions) dress shirt fabrics shrink more in the warp than in the weft. Another way of saying this is that dress shirts tend to shrink more in the length than in the width.

Will boiling water shrink clothes? ›

Boil Your Shirt in Hot Water

This method is just about as simple as it sounds. If you're only looking for slight shrinkage, take it out after about five minutes. For more than that, try it for ten to fifteen minutes. If you'd like your tee to shrink as much as possible, let it boil for up to twenty minutes.

How long do you leave clothes in hot water to shrink? ›

1. How To Shrink Clothes With Boiling Water
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Put in the garment you are trying to shrink, and turn off the heat. ...
  3. Leave the garment in for about 5-7 minutes, depending on the material.
  4. Let it cool off before you take it out and wring it out to check how much it shrank.
Dec 22, 2022

Does OxiClean work in cold water? ›

OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover works in any temperature water, but best in warm to hot water. Do NOT use boiling water.

Can anything make you shrink? ›

Is it possible to get shorter in height? There's no feasible way to make yourself shorter intentionally. The long bones that make up your arms and legs stay relatively the same length your entire life. Most of the age-related height loss you'll experience comes from compression of the discs between your vertebrae.

What are the different types of shrink? ›

The three main wraps used in shrink packaging material for protecting and securing products for the retail and shipping environments are polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE), and polyolefin (POF).

How do you intentionally shrink a shirt? ›

Place the shirt in a dryer and switch to a high heat setting to tumble dry. For more delicate fabrics, make sure you are using the delicate heat setting so not to ruin the item. Keep a close eye on it: Shrinking can happen fast! Feel free to check on it even before the cycle ends to see if it's at your desired size.

How do you shrink polyester and cotton? ›

How do you shrink a 50% cotton 50% polyester shirt? Select the hottest cycle on the washing machine and high heat setting on the dryer. Then wash it again, but this time dry by ironing with high temperature.

How do you shrink clothes fast without washing them? ›

You can soak it in hot water, use a hot iron, boil the shirt or use a dryer machine on the hottest setting to shrink a shirt without washing. Simply soak it in a sink or tub with hot boiling water for 30 minutes. The fibers of the shirt are more likely to shorten if saturated for a long time with extremely hot water.

How can I shrink my jeans fast? ›

A soak in hot water and a thorough drying usually works best. You can boil jeans for 20-30 minutes, or soak them in a hot bathtub. Expect to shrink pants roughly one size, so that means it's best to use jeans already close to the size you need.

Do you wash towels in hot or cold water? ›

Towels should be washed in the warmest water appropriate for the fabric according to the care label. Generally, warm or hot water is recommended for washing towels. Use a cycle specifically for towels or a normal/regular cycle.

What temperature should you not shrink? ›

Wash your clothes in cold water to prevent shrinkage.

Simply set the temperature on your washing machine to “cold.” With many detergents being specially-made for cold-water washing, using cold water still works to get your clothes clean.

What is the best time to wash clothes? ›

Run your washer and dryer early in the morning or at night to avoid the surge. During the winter, electricity demand is highest in the morning hours between 7 and 9 am when people are waking up and turning up their heat. Doing laundry in the evening is your safest bet.

What makes clothes shrink? ›

Why do clothes shrink in the washer and dryer? There are several reasons why your clothes might shrink in the wash. These include fiber content, excess moisture, and heat and agitation. Fiber content – Certain natural fibers, such as wool and cotton, are more likely to shrink than others.

Does washing at 30 save money? ›

Washing clothes at 30 degrees rather than higher temperatures will save around 40% of the energy used each year. Modern washing powders and detergents work just as effectively at lower temperatures. Wait until you have a full load before putting on a wash.

Does air fluff shrink clothes? ›

Dryer Settings

The two settings that eliminate shrinkage are delicate and air fluff. The delicate setting uses a very small amount of warm air to help dry your clothing, and air fluff spins clothes without any use of heat.

How much do you shrink at 70? ›

Men can gradually lose an inch between the ages of 30 to 70, and women can lose about two inches. After the age of 80, it's possible for both men and women to lose another inch.

Does 95 cotton and 5 spandex shrink? ›

The usual fabric content is 95% cotton and 5% elastane. Cotton is a natural fibre, and like all natural fibres – wool, silk and cotton - it will shrink when it mixes with heat.

Does Gildan heavy cotton shrink? ›

These Gildan Heavy Cotton T-Shirts made of 100% cotton won't shrink or change shape despite washing and use. Enjoy a product made of durable material and vivid colors! Our Heavy Cotton T-Shirts are design ready!

What fabric doesn't shrink? ›

Polyester, nylon, spandex, acrylic, and acetate won't shrink and will resist water-based stains. Most produce static and may permanently wrinkle in a hot dryer, so dry on low. How to wash: Machine-wash in warm with all-purpose detergent.

Does 100% cotton shrink in the washer or dryer? ›

Does 100% Cotton Shrink? Cotton shrinks after the first wash due to the chemical tension that was applied to the fabric and yarn during its production. Because of that process, most cotton items will shrink from the heat and steam in washers and dryers.

How long does it take to shrink clothes in the dryer? ›

A good rule of thumb is that after ten minutes of being in the wash, it will have shrunk about 1% in each direction. If it's in the wash for ten minutes and then ten minutes in the dryer, you're looking at 2% shrinkage in each direction.

What material shrinks in the dryer? ›

The heat and agitation of the dryer can prove to be too much for certain materials like wool, silk, and pure cotton, as the fibers change properties when exposed to these conditions, shrinking as a result.

Does cotton shrink when washed in cold water? ›

Washing 100% cotton with cold water can cause shrinkage so if you want the cotton to be shrunk deliberately use cold water otherwise normal water is the best. While washing cotton in the machine, a gentle cycle and chemical-free detergents are recommended.

How many times can you shrink a shirt? ›

You may repeat the process as many times as you want until you achieve your desired result. But you need to take note of the fact that a cotton shirt may only shrink up to 20% of its original size.

What percentage does cotton shrink? ›

100% Cotton fabrics shrink, and the shrinkage is between 5% to 20%, depending upon the synthetic added or the temperature involved. Hot water is a bad choice to wash your cotton clothes; they loosen the tension between the threads and shrink the cotton fabrics much faster.

How do you shrink an oversized shirt? ›

Place your shirt in a washing machine and wash it in hot water on a high agitation setting. At the end of the wash cycle, remove the shirt from the washer and tumble-dry it using the dryer's highest heat setting. If you want to shrink the shirt further, you can repeat this process more than once.

What will shrink in the dryer? ›

Fabrics You Need to Know That Have a High Chance of Shrinking in the Dryer
  • Cotton. Yes, 100% cotton can shrink – think about your favorite pair of jeans, which always feels a little tighter than usual after going through the laundry. ...
  • Wool. ...
  • Lace. ...
  • Leather (Even Faux) ...
  • Suede (Even Faux) ...
  • Linen. ...
  • Viscose. ...
  • Silk.
Aug 13, 2022

How Much Can clothes shrink in the dryer? ›

It's absolutely normal for clothes made from 100% cotton to shrink, especially if they haven't been pre-shrunk. Pre-shrunk cotton will generally only shrink 2-5%. Non pre-shrunk cotton, on the other hand, can shrink as much 20% if you're not careful. This is only true for 100% cotton, however.

Does boiling a shirt shrink it? ›

Boil Your Shirt in Hot Water

If you're only looking for slight shrinkage, take it out after about five minutes. For more than that, try it for ten to fifteen minutes. If you'd like your tee to shrink as much as possible, let it boil for up to twenty minutes.

How many sizes down can you shrink a shirt? ›

You'll most likely shrink your clothing between 1 and 3 percent, or up to two sizes. That means a dress that's 35 inches long can lose up to one inch in length.

How long to soak clothes in hot water to shrink? ›

If you want your shirt to shrink 1 to 2 sizes, put your shirt in the water immediately after you remove the boiling pot from the heat. #3: Let your t-shirt soak in the water for at least 5 minutes. Remember, the longer it's in the water, the more it will shrink.

What temperature do you dry clothes to not shrink? ›

Letting your clothes air dry is one of the best ways to prevent them from shrinking. However, if air drying isn't an option, use the lowest heat settings on the dryer. Try to remove your clothes while they're still slightly damp then air dry them to finish. Excessive heat is damaging to fabrics.

How can I permanently shrink my jeans? ›

"The easiest, quickest way to shrink denim is to wash and dry them on the hottest temperatures possible—similar to the way that washing your favorite sweater in hot water and putting it in the dryer is something you try to avoid because it will shrink."

How do you shrink the waist of pants? ›

For those who haven't, it's simple: just toss your jeans in the washing machine using hot water, and then the dryer until they're completely dry. The heat from the dryer will shrink them well.

Is it OK to put a lot of clothes in the dryer? ›

With minimal (at best) air flow, a bunched load of laundry cannot properly circulate and dry. That means it will take much longer to dry this bulky or heavy load, resulting in more energy use. So where you thought you were saving energy by doubling up, you're actually making the dryer less efficient and using more.


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