Jul 18, 2023

How To Shrink Your Clothes The Right Way

Maybe you overestimated your size when shopping, or you lost a few pounds, and now nothing is fitting like it used to. Fortunately, you can stop worrying about going broke by buying a new wardrobe. The keys to shrinking your clothes so they fit you the right way are likely in your home right now. Simply turn up the heat in your washer and dryer to reduce fiber tension in clothes and decrease their size. However, in order for this technique to work properly, you must first identify the type of material you are dealing with.

Individual fabrics react differently when washed and dried in extreme heat. Sure, they'll shrink, but not at the same rate or grade. For example, washing and drying a wool sweater at high temperatures can shrivel it to a size that only fits a Barbie doll, while the same treatment will yield minimal shrinkage on a nylon shirt. Generally, fabrics constructed from natural materials, such as cotton, linen, silk, and wool, will shrink substantially more than those made from synthetic fibers, including spandex, polyester, and nylon. Considering that hot washing and drying can shrink a new cotton shirt up to 20% while doing the same to one made of polyester will only decrease its size by 3%, it pays to strategize shrinking methods rather than randomly tossing clothes into machines and cranking up the heat.

Start shrinkage efforts by reading your garment's content label. This will allow you to identify the fabric type and alert you if an item has already been pre-shrunk. If the label indicates the latter, don't waste time trying to decrease its size more. Any additional shrinkage will be inconspicuous at best.

To shrink cotton garments, wash them in hot water and dry them on the highest heat setting for an hour. However, don't set the timer and walk away; rather, check on the items every 5 to 10 minutes to ensure they're shrinking evenly. Carefully monitor the garments until they reach your desired size. If they are still too big after an hour of drying in maximum heat, repeat the washing and drying process. Do the same when attempting to shrink polyester garments; however, once your garments are tumbling in a hot dryer, don't let more than 5 minutes lapse between checking, as synthetic fabrics dry quicker than cotton.

Practice extra patience when shrinking wool, as slow and steady will prevent clothing items from becoming too small. Wool garments can be washed in hot water on either a "gentle" or "wool" cycle, though consider using medium heat to dry while regularly monitoring size and shape. Likewise, shrinking denim requires a bit more time if you're not successful in exclusively washing and drying with high heat. Simmer jeans in a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes before drying them on high to shrink them more effectively.