Guide on How to Shrink Clothes

Jun 12, 2022 | General Crafts

Do you have a piece of clothing that you love, but it is too big? Do not throw it away. Instead, continue reading to learn how to shrink clothes.

One of the most common mistakes when doing laundry is shrinkage. However, sometimes you can use this wrong technique to your advantage.


If you have a garment you want to shirk, go grab it now. You will need to know what type of fabric you are working with.

Why Does Shrinkage Occur?

Why Does Shrinkage Occur

Before we begin, it is important you understand why fabrics can shrink. Everyone that has ever done laundry has pulled out a piece of clothing only to realize it was smaller than when they started.

This can be frustrating. But shrinkage can be avoided.

The main factor for shrinkage is the type of fibre used to make the article of clothing. If the fabric is made with a fibre such as cotton or wool that easily absorbs moisture, it is more susceptible to shrinkage.

On the other hand, synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, do not absorb a lot of water, so they are less likely to experience shrinkage.

Another factor for shrinkage is the tension in which the fibre is under. Tight fibres relax when they get wet leading to shrinkage. This is referred to as relaxation shrinkage. You will see the most shrinkage occur the very first time you wash the article of clothing.

Learn How to Make Clothes Shrink

shrink clothes

Before you try to shrink your clothes, it is important to know how to do it the right way. Understanding how to shrink clothes properly will help you from making mistakes. Not using the correct techniques can lead to too much shrinkage or fibre damage.

The first thing you want to do is determine what type of material you are working with. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, can shrink a lot. Synthetic fabrics will not shrink very much. And leather and fur will not shrink at all.

If the piece of clothing has good potential for shrinkage, let us get started. Just know, that even if you do everything right, the piece may not shrink to your liking.

So, we would not recommend buying an article of clothing that is too big, thinking you can shrink it. The piece may not shrink enough, shrink too much, or become deformed. But if you already have a piece, why not give it a shot?

Learn How to Shrink Clothes:

How to Shrink Cotton
How to Shrink Clothes

Cotton is the easiest to shrink. However, during some manufacturing procedures, a “finish” is applied to lessen shrinkage. So, you may not get as much shrinkage as you like.

1.    Wash the piece of clothing in hot water.

2.    Dry it in the dryer using high heat.

3.    While it is drying, check it periodically to ensure you do not shrink it too much.

4.    Once the piece of clothing is the right size, turn the drier on low heat. Finish drying it. You can also take it out of the drier and allow it to dry naturally, reducing any chance of further shrinkage.

How to Shrink Wool

Shrinking wool is not often recommended, but it can be done. The reason it is not recommended is that wool easily becomes “felted.”

It may look smaller; however, the felting process has only caused the barbs of the wool to interlock. If you want to try and shrink a garment made from wool, we recommend doing it by hand.

1.    Gently handwash the wood garment using a wool-friendly detergent. Do not scrub the piece. Simply leave it to soak for about 10 minutes.

2.    Remove the garment and rinse it.

3.    Place the wool clothing into a tub of clean water. Gently swoosh it back and forth through the water. This will “agitate” the fibres.

4.    Remove the article periodically to check to see if it has shrunk enough. If not, continue swishing it back and forth in the water.

5.    Once it is the size you want, remove the excess water. Do this by pressing it between a couple of clean, dry towels.

6.    Finally, shape the garment and lay it flat to dry on a dry towel. Do not place it next to a heat source or in the sun. Doing so can lead to even more shrinkage.

How to Shrink Polyester and other Synthetic Blends

Synthetic materials were designed to hold their shape. This can make it hard to shrink the fabric.

1.    Wash the piece of clothing in cold water. Do not use hot water.

2.    Dry it in the dryer using high heat

3.    While it is drying, check it periodically to make sure you do not shrink it too much.

4.    Once the piece of clothing is the desired size, turn the drier on low heat. Finish drying it.

What You Can Do if the Garment Did Not Shrink

Guide on How to Shrink Clothes

Sometimes garments will not cooperate, and they do not shrink. Or they may not shrink enough. This can be due to the age of the garment, or they may have been preshrunk. If the garment did not shrink to your liking, there is another technique you can try.

How to shrink clothes that do not want to shrink:

1.    Place your garment in a basin or bucket.

2.    Boil enough water to cover the article of clothing.

3.    Gently pour the boiling water of the garment. Use protection, so you do not burn yourself.

4.    Allow the piece to soak.

5.    Remove the garment while it is still hot.

6.    Wash it using the proper detergent.

7.    Dry the garment in the dryer on high heat, unless it is wool. Check the garment periodically to check the size. If it is wool, leave it dry naturally.

We hope you had fun learning how to shrink clothes!

If you’ve followed one of the processes above, share with us your experience on our Facebook Page. And if you’re looking for more fun crafts, check out our article on Beautiful Simple Wall Paintings Ideas, Best Ink Stain Removers for Clothes, Types of Waterproof Fabrics and a lot more here.

Shrinking clothes is an easy process. You just need to know the proper technique. If the garment does not shrink enough the first time, you may need to repeat this process.

When doing your laundry, you usually want to prevent shrinkage. But there are some times when knowing how to shrink clothes can be beneficial.

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