How to unshrink clothes

Have you ever thrown your clothes in the dryer and lost track of time, only to pull them out a few sizes smaller than when they went in? It can be devastating, especially if you’ve ‘lost’ one of your favourite garments to the dryer. But there’s no point crying over shrunk clothes – especially if you can unshrink them.   

How not to shrink your clothing
The easiest way to unshrink your clothes is not to shrink them in the first place. While it may not sound like rocket science, there is a skill to keeping your clothes in shape – and size.

Clothes are most often shrunk when they’ve been in a dryer that is too hot or been left in the dryer for too long. Clothing made from natural fibres such as wool, cotton and rayon are more likely to be affected by heat.

To avoid shrinking your clothes, wash them on a cold cycle, air dry whenever possible or use the ‘low heat’ and ‘less dry’ settings on your dryer. Some products including wool dryer balls can help to increase air circulation and decrease drying time.

Lastly, don’t over wash your clothes. Intimates like socks and undies should be washed after every use, but heavier clothing like jeans and jackets can go quite some time between washes.

You’ll notice that many of these changes are also better for both the environment and your electricity bill.

How to unshrink your clothes
While clothing made from natural materials are the most likely items to shrink, they are also the easiest to return to their former size. Mist or dampen these items with water, roll them up and twist to squeeze out water and stretch the items out. Alternatively, with items like jeans or jumpers, putting them on and wearing them around should stretch them back out. It may feel like climbing back into a damp wetsuit, but they are usually salvageable.

For other items, Mind Body Green has identified these five steps to unshrinking clothing. You’ll need a corkboard, pins, a tub and some hair conditioner.

  • Start by filling a sink or bucket with enough water to fully cover the garment. Squirt some hair conditioner into the water and mix it around.
  • Next, put the item of clothing into the mix and rub it together until you’re confident that the conditioner has been rubbed all the way through.
  • Let the garment sit in the bucket for half an hour.
  • Take the garment out of the bucket and squeeze the water out of it until it is damp.
  • Now, stretch the garment out in all directions on a corkboard, using the pins to hold it in place. Return to the garment every 20 minutes or so to stretch it further out and pin it in place. Continue this process until the garment is dry

As careful as you may be on wash day, using a hot dryer is a risky game likely to end in shrunken clothes as one point or another.

Have you ever tried to unshrink your clothes? What advice do you have for other YourLifeChoices readers? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Written by Liv Gardiner


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