How to Unshrink Clothes

To unshrink clothes, soak them in lukewarm water and hair conditioner for at least 30 minutes before gently stretching them back to their original size. Accidents happen, and sometimes clothes shrink in the wash.

It can be frustrating and disappointing when your favorite sweater or pair of jeans no longer fits. But don’t worry, there is a way to unshrink clothes without damaging the fabric. In this article, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to unshrink clothes using only water and hair conditioner.

By following these simple steps, you can save your favorite clothes and avoid the hassle of having to buy new ones. So, let’s get started!

How to Unshrink Clothes


Understanding The Science Behind Shrinking Clothes

We’ve all been there: pulling a favorite shirt out of the dryer only to find it has shrunken beyond recognition. While you may have heard tips for unshrinking clothes, it’s important to understand what causes clothes to shrink in the first place, so you can prevent it from happening in the future.

Here’s what you need to know.

Explaining The Factors That Cause Clothes To Shrink

Shrinking clothes isn’t just a matter of heat, as some may believe. Various factors can cause clothes to shrink, including:

  • Type of fabric: Some fabrics are more likely to shrink than others, such as cotton, wool, and silk.
  • Water temperature: Washing clothes in hot water can cause fibers to constrict and lead to shrinking.
  • Agitation: Clothes that are constantly rubbing against each other in the washer and dryer can become compressed and shrink.
  • Drying method: Tumble drying on high heat or over-drying can cause clothes to shrink.

Understanding The Role Of Heat And Moisture In Shrinking Clothes

When heat and moisture come into play, clothes can quickly become smaller in size. This process occurs because heat causes the fibers in the fabric to relax and open up, making them more vulnerable to moisture. When moisture is introduced to the equation, such as in a washer, the fibers absorb the water and constrict — leading to shrinkage.

To avoid shrinking clothes due to heat and moisture:

  • Wash clothes in cool water and use a gentle cycle.
  • If you must use hot water, try not to exceed 60 degrees celsius.
  • Avoid over-drying clothes in the dryer, and always use a low or medium heat setting.

How To Avoid Shrinking Clothes In The First Place

The best way to avoid shrinking clothes is to be proactive. Here are some tips to help keep your clothes in their original size:

  • Read the labels: Always check the care tags on your clothes to see how they should be washed and dried.
  • Use cold water: As mentioned previously, using cold water can help prevent shrinking.
  • Hand wash: If a garment is delicate, consider hand washing it instead of tossing it in the washer.
  • Air dry: If possible, air drying clothes is the safest option.

By understanding the science behind shrinking clothes and taking proactive steps to prevent it from happening in the first place, you can extend the life of your favorite clothes.

Methods For Unshrinking Clothes

Unshrinking clothes is a trick that everyone needs to learn at some point in their lives. Clothes can shrink due to many reasons including a deep wash, using hot water, dryer heat, or just the natural fabric shrinkage. However, there are a few proven methods with which one can successfully unshrink the clothes.

We will explore three of these methods, each of which uses common household items to help restore clothes to their original size and shape.

Option 1: The Shampoo Method

Do you know that shampoo can be used to unshrink clothes? Yes, you read that right! Shampoo has the ability to relax the fibers of the clothes, allowing them to regain their original size and shape. Here’s how you can do it at home:

  • Fill a sink or bathtub with lukewarm water. Add a capful of baby shampoo or regular shampoo (without conditioner) to the water.
  • Soak the shrunken clothes in the solution for 30 minutes. Use your fingers to gently stretch the clothes during this time.
  • Drain the sink or bathtub and gently rinse the clothes with lukewarm water.
  • Wrap the clothes in a towel to squeeze out any excess water.
  • Place the clothes on a flat surface and gently stretch them to their original size and shape. Avoid using a dryer, and let the clothes air dry.

Tips to achieve the best results:

  • Use baby shampoo since it is gentler on clothes.
  • Avoid using too much shampoo as it may leave a residue in the clothes.
  • Don’t pull too hard when stretching the clothes- be gentle.

Option 2: The Baby Shampoo Method

Baby shampoo is a milder shampoo that can help unshrink delicate or sensitive clothes such as wool, cashmere, or silk. Here’s how to unshrink clothes using baby shampoo:

  • Fill a bucket with lukewarm water and add a tablespoon of baby shampoo.
  • Add the shrunken clothes to the bucket and let them soak for 30 minutes.
  • Gently stretch the clothes while they soak in the solution.
  • Drain the water from the bucket and rinse the clothes with lukewarm water.
  • Gently press the clothes to remove any excess water.
  • Place the clothes on a flat surface and gently stretch them to their original shape and size. Let them air dry.

Things to be mindful of when using baby shampoo:

  • Don’t use too much shampoo or you may end up leaving a residue in your clothes.
  • Don’t wring or twist the clothes as this could cause more shrinking.
  • Be cautious when stretching delicate fabrics as they might tear.

Option 3: The Conditioner Method

When we condition our hair, it becomes softer and easy to manage. The same principal applies when using conditioner to unshrink clothes. Here’s how you can put this theory to practice.

  • Pour two cups of lukewarm water in a basin and add a tablespoon of hair conditioner. Mix to combine.
  • Drop the shrunken clothes into the basin and let them soak for 15 minutes.
  • Squeeze the clothes gently to remove the excess water, then place them on a flat surface.
  • Stretch the clothes to the desired size and shape, then let them air dry.

Tips for effective use of conditioner:

  • Don’t use too much conditioner as it will leave a greasy residue in clothes.
  • Avoid using this method on clothes made of fabric that is sensitive to water.

We hope that you find these methods on how to unshrink clothes helpful. Whether you choose the shampoo, baby shampoo or conditioner method, you can be sure to restore your shrunken clothes to their original size and shape with minimal effort.

Remember, these methods may not work 100% of the time, so it’s best to avoid shrinking your clothes altogether by being mindful of the care instructions on the garment tags.

Other Ways To Unshrink Clothes

If your clothes have shrunk in the wash, don’t fret! There are several ways to unshrink your clothes and restore them to their original size. While stretching the clothes is one option, there are other methods that you can consider.

Here are some other ways to unshrink clothes:

Using Stretch Agents

Stretch agents can be quite useful in unshrinking clothes. These agents work by relaxing the fibers in the clothes, making them more pliable and easier to stretch. Here are some types of stretch agents you can try:

  • Fabric softener: If you haven’t washed your clothes yet after they shrunk, adding fabric softener to your laundry can help relax the fibers and stretch the clothes.
  • Baby shampoo: Adding a few drops of baby shampoo to warm water and soaking your clothes for 30 minutes before stretching can help relax the fibers.
  • Conditioner: Similarly, using hair conditioner in the same way can help unshrink clothes.
  • Vinegar: Soaking your clothes in a solution of water and vinegar for 30 minutes can help loosen the fibers for easier stretching.

When To Use Stretch Agents And When To Avoid Them

While stretch agents can help unshrink clothes, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Use stretch agents only on clothes that are made of natural fibers such as cotton, wool, or silk. Synthetic fabrics like polyester or spandex will not benefit from these agents.
  • Avoid using stretch agents on delicate fabrics such as silk, as these fabrics can be easily damaged by stretching.

Professional Services

If you are unable to unshrink your clothes or are afraid of damaging them, you can always consider the services of a professional. Here are a few things to keep in mind while choosing a professional service:

  • When to consider professional services: If you have clothes that are valuable or sentimental, it’s best to avoid diy methods and seek out professional services.
  • Dry cleaner or tailor: Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need a dry cleaner or a tailor to help you unshrink your clothes.
  • What to expect: A dry cleaner may use steam to relax the fibers in your clothes, while a tailor can add extra fabric to the garment to expand it. However, keep in mind that professional services can be expensive.

Unshrinking clothes may seem like a daunting task, but with these tips, you can easily restore your clothes to their original size. Whether you choose to use stretch agents or seek the help of a professional, make sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging your clothes further.

Preventing Clothes From Shrinking

Tips For Preventing Clothes From Shrinking In The Wash

Washing clothes can be challenging as some fabrics tend to shrink upon washing. However, some tips can help you avoid this dilemma. Here is what you should keep in mind:

  • Read the label: Before washing your clothes, read the care label, and check for any specific washing instructions.
  • Sort clothes: Separate clothes according to fabric type and color. Wash delicate and light-colored fabrics separately from heavy and dark-colored ones.
  • Check water temperature: High temperatures can cause fabrics to shrink. Use warm or cold water for most fabrics, and hot water for white cotton clothes.
  • Use the right amount of detergent: Always measure and use the appropriate amount of detergent. Overuse can leave residue on clothes, causing stiffness and damage.
  • Avoid overloading the machine: Clothes need space to move around freely, so do not overload the machine.

How To Select The Right Water Temperature And Cycle For Different Fabrics

Different fabrics require different washing temperatures and cycle types. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Hot water: Use hot water for white cotton items, towels, and sheets, as they can withstand high-temperature washing.
  • Warm water: Use warm water for synthetic fabrics and clothes that are moderately soiled.
  • Coldwater: Use cold water for delicate fabrics and clothes that aren’t heavily soiled, as it prevents shrinkage. Cold water is also ideal for colored fabrics and dark-colored clothes to prevent fading.
  • Cycle type: Different types of cycle features are designed to cater to specific fabric types. For instance, the delicate cycle is suitable for silk and wool items, while heavy-duty cycles are ideal for heavily soiled clothes.

Best Practices For Laundry Care

Sticking to some best practices when doing laundry can help prevent clothes from shrinking, and preserve their lifespan.

  • Don’t overload the machine: Overloading the machine can damage the clothes and hamper cleaning effectiveness.
  • Use fabric softeners sparingly: Fabric softeners can cause residue buildup, leading to stiffness and reduce a fabric’s ability to absorb moisture.
  • Air dry: Dry clothes naturally and avoid drying with high heat. Avoid ironing when not necessary, as it can damage the fabric.
  • Avoid direct sunlight: Direct sunlight can affect fabric’s colors, causing fading, and damage.
  • Store clothes properly: Store clothes in a dry and cool place with good air circulation. Keep them away from direct sunlight and avoid packing clothes too tightly.

These tips can help you prevent clothes from shrinking, increase their lifespan, and keep them looking new. Keep in mind that proper fabric care and washing habits lead to high-quality laundry results.

Frequently Asked Questions For How To Unshrink Clothes

How Do Clothes Shrink, And Why?

Clothes reduce in size due to the fibers constricting from heat or agitation. Natural fibers like cotton and wool will shrink quickly after washed in hot water. However, synthetic materials like polyester and nylon are more durable and resistant to shrinking.

Can All Types Of Clothes Be Unshrunk?

Unfortunately, not every type of fabric can be unshrunk as some fibers rebound better than others. Cotton and natural fabrics are reversible, synthetic fabrics are harder, because they may get damaged if dried in high heat. It’s always better to check the garment’s fabric care label before attempting any unshrinking solution.

What Are The Household Items To Unshrink Clothes?

The most commonly used household items to unshrink clothes are white vinegar, fabric softener, hair conditioner, baby shampoo, and baking soda. All of these can help to relax the fibers and restore the garment to its former shape.

How Do I Use Vinegar To Unshrink Clothes?

Add two cups of lukewarm water with one cup of white vinegar and soak the garment for 30 minutes before rinsing and squeezing it to remove excess water. Stretch it gently back to its original size while the clothes are still damp, and let it air dry.

How Can I Prevent Clothes From Shrinking?

Always read the care label before washing clothes and avoid high temperature and drying cycles. Using a gentle detergent for delicate clothes, avoiding bleach, and employing cooler washing and drying machines will help reduce the risk of shrinking.


Unshrinking clothes can be a daunting task but with the right techniques, it is possible to restore them to their original shape. The first step is to identify the cause of shrinkage, whether it’s due to heat or improper washing techniques.

Once you have pinpointed the cause, you can then proceed to use various methods such as stretching, soaking in fabric softeners or warm water, or applying a mixture of water and hair conditioner. It’s important to note that not all fabrics can be unshrunk, so it’s best to avoid using high heat or washing clothes in hot water to prevent shrinkage in the first place.

With these tips, you can save money and extend the life of your favorite clothes. Remember to always read the care label instructions before washing or drying your clothes to avoid unwanted shrinkage.

Daniel Methews
Daniel Methews
Daniel Methews is a cleaning expert with a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field. With his expertise in various cleaning techniques, he has become a trusted specialist in the industry. Daniel's mastery lies in the art of vacuum cleaning, where he excels in utilizing the latest advancements in technology to ensure impeccable results. Additionally, his skills in stain removal are unparalleled, as he possesses an in-depth understanding of different types of stains and the most effective methods to eliminate them. Daniel Methews is dedicated to providing top-notch cleaning solutions, leaving spaces spotless and customers satisfied.

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