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How to Unshrink Clothes Using Simple Techniques

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  • Post last modified:March 31, 2024

You can unshrink clothes and reclaim your favorite garments, including sweaters and jeans within minutes.

Few things are as disheartening as pulling your favorite sweater or perfect-fitting pair of jeans out of the laundry, only to find them shrunken and unwearable.

The good news is that you can often reverse this process and rescue your beloved garments from their miniature state.

How to Unshrink Clothes

 

Most fabrics, especially natural fibers like cotton, wool, and linen, are prone to shrinking when exposed to heat and agitation during washing and drying.

The fibers contract, causing the fabric to shrink. Synthetic fibers can also shrink under certain conditions, although they are generally more resistant than natural fibers.

Having a grasp of this principle is crucial for effectively reversing the shrinkage process.

Below are the methods you can use to reclaim your garment from its shrunken state:

 

Vinegar Solution

Vinegar is known for its ability to soften fabrics and relax fibers, making it an excellent solution for unshrinking clothes.

Here is how to use it:

  1. Mix equal parts of lukewarm water and white vinegar in a basin or sink.
  2. Submerge the shrunken garment in the vinegar solution and let it soak for 15-30 minutes.
  3. Gently remove the garment from the solution and press out excess liquid.
  4. Lay the garment flat on a towel and gently stretch it back to its original shape.
  5. Allow the garment to air dry completely.

If you do not have a vinegar at home, you may want to check some of the below available on Amazon:

 

Calyptus 75% Pure Super Concentrated Vinegar

Calyptus 75% Pure Super Concentrated Vinegar

Happy Belly Distilled White Vinegar

Happy Belly Distilled White Vinegar

Iberia All Natural Distilled White Vinegar

Iberia All Natural Distilled White Vinegar

Gentle Stretching

One of the simplest and most effective methods to unshrink clothes is through gentle stretching.

Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water, as it can further shrink the fabric.
  2. Add a small amount of gentle hair conditioner or baby shampoo to the water. These products help relax the fibers.
  3. Submerge the shrunken garment in the water and let it soak for about 30 minutes.
  4. Gently remove the garment from the water and carefully squeeze out excess water without wringing or twisting the fabric.
  5. Lay the garment flat on a clean towel and gently stretch it back to its original shape. Pay close attention to areas that have shrunk the most, such as sleeves or waistbands.
  6. Leave the garment to air dry completely, preferably on a flat surface.

Steam Treatment

Steam can help relax the fibers of shrunken clothes, allowing them to stretch back to their original shape.

Follow these steps:

  1. Hang the shrunken garment in a steamy bathroom. You can create steam by running a hot shower for several minutes.
  2. Allow the garment to absorb the steam for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Gently stretch the garment back to its original size and shape while it is still warm and damp.
  4. Once stretched, leave the garment to air dry completely.

Commercial Unshrinking Products

There are various commercial products available specifically designed to unshrink clothes. These products often contain ingredients that help relax the fibers and restore the fabric to its original size. Follow the instructions provided with the product for the best results.

Below are some you can check on Amazon:

U2-01 Unshrinking Solution for Cashmere, Wool, and Wool Blend Clothing

U2-01 Unshrinking Solution for Cashmere, Wool, and Wool Blend Clothing

Sonett Organic Wool Care for Restoring Wool and Silk

Sonett Organic Wool Care for Restoring Wool and Silk

How to Prevent Clothes Shrinking

 

While it is possible to unshrink clothes using the methods outlined above, prevention is always better than cure.

Here are some tips to help prevent clothes from shrinking in the first place:

 

Proper Washing Practices

One of the most critical factors in preventing clothes from shrinking is adopting proper washing practices.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Read and Follow Care Labels: Care labels provide essential instructions for washing and caring for garments. Pay attention to these and follow the recommended washing instructions, including water temperature, cycle type, and drying method.
  2. Use Cold Water: Washing clothes in cold water instead of hot water can significantly reduce the risk of shrinking. Cold water is gentler on fabrics and helps prevent fibers from contracting.
  3. Choose Gentle Detergents: Opt for gentle detergents specifically formulated for delicate fabrics. Harsh detergents containing bleach or strong chemicals can damage fibers and contribute to shrinking.
  4. Hand Wash Delicate Items: For delicate fabrics or garments prone to shrinking, consider hand washing instead of using a washing machine. Hand washing allows for greater control over the washing process and minimizes the risk of damage.
  5. Turn Garments Inside Out: Turning garments inside out before washing can help protect the outer surface from abrasion and friction, reducing the likelihood of shrinking and preserving colors and prints.

Drying Techniques

Proper drying techniques are equally important in preventing clothes from shrinking. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Air Dry Whenever Possible: Whenever feasible, air dry clothes instead of using a dryer. Air drying is the gentlest drying method and minimizes the risk of shrinkage. Hang clothes on a clothesline or drying rack, ensuring proper ventilation and airflow.
  2. Use Low Heat Settings: If you must use a dryer, select the lowest heat setting possible. High temperatures can cause fibers to contract and result in shrinkage. Additionally, avoid overloading the dryer, as overcrowding can prevent proper airflow and prolong drying time.
  3. Remove Clothes Promptly: Remove clothes from the dryer promptly once the drying cycle is complete. Leaving clothes in the dryer for an extended period can lead to excessive heat exposure, increasing the risk of shrinking.
  4. Invest in Dryer Balls: Consider using dryer balls or wool dryer balls in the dryer. These balls help reduce drying time and minimize wrinkles without the need for high heat, thereby lowering the risk of shrinkage.

Storage and Care

Proper storage and care practices can also contribute to preventing clothes from shrinking.

Here are some recommendations:

  1. Fold Instead of Hang: Fold knits, sweaters, and other delicate garments instead of hanging them. Hanging heavy or stretchy fabrics can cause them to stretch out of shape over time, leading to distortion and potential shrinkage.
  2. Store Clothing Correctly: Store clothes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Avoid storing clothes in plastic bags or containers, as these can trap moisture and promote mold and mildew growth.
  3. Avoid Excessive Agitation: Minimize excessive agitation when washing clothes by using gentle cycles and avoiding vigorous scrubbing or wringing. Aggressive washing can cause fibers to weaken and shrink.
  4. Handle Wet Clothes Carefully: Handle wet clothes with care to prevent stretching and distortion. Gently reshape garments and lay them flat to dry to maintain their original shape and size.

Fabric-Specific Considerations

Different fabrics require different care techniques to prevent shrinking effectively.

Here are some fabric-specific considerations:

  1. Cotton: Cotton is prone to shrinking, especially when exposed to hot water and high heat. Wash cotton garments in cold water and air dry whenever possible to minimize shrinkage.
  2. Wool: Wool is highly susceptible to shrinking when subjected to heat and agitation. Hand wash wool garments in cold water with a gentle detergent, and avoid wringing or twisting them. Lay flat to dry to prevent stretching and distortion.
  3. Linen: Linen fabrics can shrink significantly if washed and dried improperly. Wash linen garments in cold water with a gentle detergent, and air dry them to maintain their shape and size.
  4. Synthetic Fabrics: Synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon are generally more resistant to shrinking than natural fibers. However, it is still essential to follow proper care instructions to preserve their quality and longevity.

Outsource If Needed

Due to other tasks, you may not pay much attention to the washer and dryer which can lead to shrunken clothes.

Whenever you think there is not enough time, consider outsourcing your chores through one of the laundry service platforms online.

Since they will be handled by professionals who understand the different methods to unshrink clothes when the need arises, it will save you headaches and stress.

Interestingly, these platforms also allow for special instructions and if you have a garment that needs to be taken care of differently, you can specify when submitting your request.

 

With the different techniques above, you can easily unshrink clothes and restore them to their good shape but also, read the garment instructions carefully to understand the best ways to handle and prevent such happening during any laundry session.

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