How to Unshrink Wool

To unshrink wool, soak it in a mixture of lukewarm water and hair conditioner. After soaking, gently stretch the wool back to its original size and shape.

Wool is a popular material for clothing due to its insulating properties and softness. However, mishandling wool during cleaning can lead to it shrinking, making it unwearable. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry as there are ways to unshrink wool.

In this article, we’ll cover the steps you can take to restore your favorite shrunken wool garments. From soaking the wool in a mixture of water and hair conditioner to carefully stretching the fabric back to its original size, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn the tips and tricks for unshrinking wool.

How to Unshrink Wool


Understanding The Nature Of Wool Shrinking

Wool is known for its durability, softness, and insulation properties. But it can also be notoriously tricky to maintain, as woolen garments can easily shrink. Understanding the mechanisms behind wool shrinkage can help you to prevent and fix the issue.

Here’s everything you need to know about what causes wool to shrink, the factors that contribute to shrinkage, and how to identify shrunken wool.

What Causes Wool To Shrink?

Wool fibers contain microscopic scales that are sensitive to temperature changes and agitation. These scales can open up when the wool is exposed to high heat, causing the fibers to interlock and contract. As a result, the woolen material can reduce in size by up to 30%.

Factors That Contribute To Shrinkage

Several factors can contribute to wool shrinkage, including:

  • Heat: Woolen garments should not be exposed to high temperatures. Hot water, washing machines, and tumble dryers can all cause wool fibers to shrink.
  • Agitation: Whether it’s handwashing or machine washing, wool fabrics should be handled gently. Agitating or rubbing the material can cause the fibers to interlock and contract.
  • Chemicals: Some detergents, bleach, and fabric softeners can be harsh on wool. These chemicals can break down the fibers and cause them to shrink.

How To Identify Shrunken Wool?

If you suspect that your wool garment has shrunk, here’s how you can check:

  • Check the label: Most woolen garments come with care instructions that tell you whether they can be machine washed, hand washed or dry cleaned. If you ignored these guidelines, it’s likely that the garment shrunk.
  • Check the size: If the garment is visibly smaller and doesn’t fit, it’s likely that it has shrunk.
  • Check the texture: If the wool feels tightly woven, heavy, and thick, it might have shrunk.

With these factors in mind, you can now take better care of your woolen garments, ensuring that they last for years without shrinking. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so take the time to read and follow the care instructions on the label, and clean your wool fabrics with care.

Preparing Your Wool For Unshrinking

Woolen clothes are comfortable, soft, and warm, but they have a vulnerability to shrinkage. The horror of putting a woolen garment through the wash and then pulling out something that would fit a baby doll is unbearable. There is no surefire way to unshrink wool, but there are methods that can make the garment wearable again.

We will discuss various ways to unshrink wool. In this section, we will go through the essential steps for preparing your wool for unshrinking.

Assessing The Degree Of Shrinkage

Before beginning to unshrink your woolen garment, assess the degree of shrinkage. Different degrees of shrinkage require different approaches.

  • Check to see if the wool has shrunk in one direction or multiple directions.
  • Pull and stretch it to determine how much the wool has shrunk.
  • Confirm if the wool has shrunk all over or only in some areas.

Measuring The Shrunken Wool Fabric

Take accurate measurements, both before and after the wool has shrunk, to help determine the degree of shrinkage. These measurements will help during the unshrinking process.

  • Use a measuring tape to accurately measure the length, width, and height of the shrunken woolen garment.
  • Note these measurements down for later reference.

Determining The Original Size Of The Wool

Having an idea of the wool’s original size makes the unshrinking process easier.

  • Check the garment’s label for information on the original size.
  • If the label is absent, use your measurements from step two to estimate the original size.

Soaking Wool In The Right Solution

Soaking the woolen garment is a crucial step in making the fibers relax and loosen up.

  • Fill a bathtub or sink with lukewarm or cool water. Never use hot water.
  • Add the unshrinking solution to the water.
  • Submerge the woolen garment in the water and allow it to soak for 20 – 30 minutes.

Choosing The Right Type Of Soaking Solution

Choosing the right soaking solution is important in the unshrinking process.

  • A mixture of hair conditioner and water is an effective solution to unshrink wool.
  • Other popular solutions include vinegar and baby shampoo.

How Long To Soak Wool?

The length of time to soak wool depends on the degree of shrinkage.

  • For mild shrinkage, 20 minutes should suffice.
  • Moderate shrinkage requires up to 30 minutes of soaking time.
  • Severe shrinkage will need at least 60 minutes of soaking time.

Preparing wool for unshrinking takes a bit of patience, but it is worth the effort. Once you have completed all the steps, you are ready to start the actual unshrinking process.

Unshrinking Methods For Wool

Wool is a fabulous material until it shrinks. That favorite sweater you have been wearing for years or that beautiful woolen blanket can suddenly appear unwearable or unusable. The good news is there are ways to unshrink wool. Here are three methods to save your favorite woolens:

Method 1: Using Hair Conditioner

Hair conditioner is an easy-to-find product that can help unshrink wool. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use hair conditioner for wool unshrinking:

  • Fill a sink or bathtub with lukewarm water, and add a capful of hair conditioner.
  • Soak the shrunken wool for 15-20 minutes.
  • Drain the soapy water, but don’t rinse or wring out the wool.
  • Lay a towel flat, put the wool on it, and gently stretch it out in all directions.
  • Keep stretching the wool until it returns to its original shape and size.
  • Leave the wool on the towel to dry.

Precautions To Note While Using This Method

  • Use a hair conditioner with no dyes or perfumes.
  • Don’t use hot water since it can cause further shrinkage.
  • Don’t wring or twist the wool. Just gently stretch it out.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Hair Conditioner Method


  • Hair conditioner is a readily available product found in most households.
  • It’s an easy and cost-effective way to unshrink wool.


  • Though hair conditioner is safe for wool, it may not work for extremely shrunken wool.
  • The wool may require several stretching cycles to regain its shape.

Method 2: Using Baby Shampoo

Baby shampoo is a gentle product that can help unshrink wool without damaging it. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use baby shampoo for wool unshrinking:

  • Fill a sink or bathtub with lukewarm water.
  • Add two tablespoons of baby shampoo to the water and mix it well.
  • Soak the shrunken wool in the baby shampoo solution for 20-30 minutes.
  • Rinse it gently with lukewarm water.
  • Drain the water, but don’t wring or twist the wool.
  • Lay a towel flat, put the wool on it, and gently stretch it out in all directions.
  • Keep stretching the wool until it returns to its original shape and size.
  • Leave the wool on the towel to dry.

Precautions To Note While Using This Method

  • Use lukewarm water. Hot water can further shrink the wool.
  • Don’t use too much baby shampoo as it may damage the wool fibers.
  • Don’t wring or twist the wool. Just gently stretch it out.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Baby Shampoo Method


  • Baby shampoo is a gentle product that won’t damage your woolens.
  • This method is cost-effective and practical.


  • Not every household may have baby shampoo readily available.
  • Sometimes, the wool may require several stretching cycles to regain its shape.

Method 3: Using Vinegar

Vinegar is an effective way to unshrink wool because of its acidic nature. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use vinegar to unshrink wool:

  • Fill a sink or bathtub with lukewarm water and add one cup of vinegar to the water.
  • Soak the shrunken wool in the vinegar solution for 25-30 minutes.
  • Rinse the wool gently by squeezing it and then draining the water.
  • Don’t wring the wool; gently stretch it out to its original shape.
  • Dry the wool flat on a towel.

Precautions To Note While Using This Method

  • Use lukewarm water, as hot water can damage the wool fibers.
  • Don’t wring the wool, as it could damage the fibers and further shrink it.
  • Avoid using vinegar on delicate types of wool.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Vinegar Method


  • Vinegar is an effective method for unshrinking wool.
  • It is an inexpensive and readily available household item.


  • Vinegar has a strong scent which some people may not appreciate.
  • Overuse of vinegar can deteriorate wool fibers, damaging them permanently.

Unshrinking wool is a simple process, and household items such as hair conditioner, baby shampoo, and vinegar make it easy to achieve this task. It’s vital always to use caution while using these methods and follow the instructions carefully. With a little effort, you can restore your favorite woolens to their original state.

Post-Treatment Care For Unshrunk Wool

Unshrinking wool is a tricky task, but it’s not over yet. Even after applying the unshrinking treatment, you still need to take care of the wool to prevent it from being damaged again. Below are some crucial post-treatment care tips that will help you to preserve your unshrunk wool.

Drying The Wool After Unshrinking

Drying your wool properly is crucial to prevent further damage. Once you’ve completed the unshrinking process, your wool will be damp, and you need to dry it out properly. Here’s how to dry wool after unshrinking:

  • Squeeze out the excess water by hand or using a towel. Don’t wring it.
  • Lay the wool item flat on a dry towel or an absorbent surface.
  • Reshape the wool to its original size and form.
  • Allow it to air dry at room temperature, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Choosing The Right Drying Method

Choosing the right drying method can make a big difference to the quality of the wool. Here are some recommended drying methods for unshrinking wool:

  • Flat drying: It’s the safest way to dry wool, as it helps the wool keep its original shape, and prevents stretching.
  • Hanging: Don’t hang wool items to dry. It can stretch the wool, leading to an awkward fit or shape.
  • Tumble drying: Avoid using the tumble dryer to dry wool. The heat and motion can easily ruin the wool fibers.

Precautions To Take During Drying Process

During the drying process, you need to be extra careful with your wool. Here are some precautions to be aware of:

  • Don’t expose wool to sunlight or heat sources as it can quickly damage wool fibers.
  • Avoid using a blow dryer or a heater to speed up the drying process as it can lead to shrinkage and damage.
  • When drying your wool, be gentle and avoid aggressive wringing or squeezing as it can stretch or damage wool fibers.

How To Store Your Unshrunk Wool Properly

Proper storage can significantly increase the durability and lifespan of your unshrunk wool. Here are some ways to store wool properly:

  • Fold it nicely before storing. Hanging wool items can lead to stretching or sagging.
  • Store wool in a cool, dry, and dark place – like a closet or a drawer to keep the wool fibers safe from moisture and sunlight.
  • Don’t keep wool items too close to direct sunlight or heat sources – it can fade the colors.
  • Avoid using plastic bags when storing wool, since it doesn’t allow air to circulate, which can lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

Now that you know how to dry, choose the right drying method, take precautions, and store your unshrunk wool, you can maintain the quality of your wool item for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions On How To Unshrink Wool

How Did My Wool Garment Shrink?

Wool shrinks when exposed to heat, water, or friction. The fibers get matted and interlocked, resulting in the fabric shrinking. High heat from a washing machine or dryer can cause the wool to shrink.

Can You Unshrink Wool Without Stretching It?

Yes, it is possible to unshrink wool without stretching it. Soak the garment in a warm water and baby shampoo solution, and gently stretch and reshape while damp. Alternatively, you can use a fabric conditioner or vinegar solution to help relax the fibers.

How Long Does It Take To Unshrink Wool?

It can take up to 48 hours to unshrink wool, depending on the severity of the shrinkage. Leave the garment soaking in the solution for at least 30 minutes before gently stretching and reshaping it. Repeat the process as needed until you achieve the desired size.

Is It Safe To Use A Washing Machine To Unshrink Wool?

No, using a washing machine can further shrink the wool. The high heat and agitation can ruin the fibers and the garment’s shape. Hand-washing or soaking the wool in a solution is the best approach to unshrink wool without damaging it.

Does All Types Of Wool Respond Well To Unshrinking?

Not all types of wool respond well to unshrinking. The success of the process depends on the quality of the wool and how it shrunk. Some wool fabrics, such as tweeds, can be difficult to unshrink because the fibers are tightly interlocked.


After reading this article, you are now equipped with the knowledge of how to unshrink wool. By following the steps we’ve outlined, you can safely and effectively undo the damage caused by washing or drying wool. Remember, prevention is always the best solution.

Be sure to read garment labels carefully and avoid washing wool in hot water or putting it in the dryer. In case you accidentally shrink your wool clothing, now you know how to fix it without causing damage to the fabric.

If the process seems daunting, you can always seek professional help from a tailor or dry cleaner. With these tips, you can confidently care for your cherished woolen garments and keep them looking their best for years to come.

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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