What You Can Do to Shrink Your Shirt in Three Different Ways

  1. 1

    If in doubt, consult the garment's label. As heat is applied to some fabrics, they shrink while others do not. Cotton and wool, for instance, will shrink if washed in hot water. [1] On the label of your shirt, you may also find information on how to properly care for it so that it doesn't shrink.

    • It's possible that the label will include information about the water's temperature, such as "warm" or "cool." You can try to shrink the garment by washing it in the opposite temperature.
  2. 2

    Prepare some hot water in a sink. [2] You can shrink a cotton or wool garment by soaking it in hot water for a few hours. After five minutes, take the shirt out of the water and squeeze out as much water as possible. If the shirt isn't white, soaking it in hot water could potentially remove some of the color. [3]

    • The shirt will shrink proportionally to the temperature of the water, so choose a temperature that seems reasonable to you.
    • Hotter water can be achieved by boiling water and then pouring it into the sink.
    • Suggested Preparation: Put a teaspoon of laundry detergent in the sink if you want to wash the shirt in addition to shrinking it. However, after washing the shirt, you'll need to give it a final rinse in a third tub or sink.
    • In the event that you are concerned about the color of the shirt, you can also try soaking it in cool or lukewarm water and then drying it in a warm area, such as next to a heater.

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  3. 3

    Arrange the shirt in a dry location. Wring out the shirt and lay it flat on a drying rack to dry in the air. To dry a shirt without a drying rack, simply lay it flat on top of a dry, absorbent towel.

    • Don't dry the shirt on the line Because of this, the shirt's shoulders will become loose.
    • It's best to let the second side dry completely before putting the shirt away.
    • If you want the shirt to dry more quickly and shrink a little more, try putting it somewhere warm. [4]
  4. 4

    The shirt should be washed. The shirt can be washed on hot in the washing machine if soaking and air drying did not produce the desired amount of shrinkage. To do this, put the shirt in the washer and use the "whites" setting to wash it in hot water.

    • You can prevent your shirt's color from fading by washing it in a cup of vinegar if you're worried about that happening.
    • If you're worried about shrinking the shirt too much due to the heat, try washing it in cold water or with the "permanent press" setting.
  5. 5

    Proceed to use a dryer on the shirt. Some additional shrinkage may occur while drying your shirt in the dryer. [5] After washing and air-drying, if your shirt has not shrunk to your satisfaction, you can try drying it on high heat.

    • If you are worried about the fabric's longevity, use the "gentle dry" setting.
    • To dry the shirt quickly, select either the "permanent press" or "regular dry" cycle.

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  1. 1

    Put some water in a spray bottle. [6] A spray bottle allows you to precisely target a shirt's shrinkage. Put some clean water in a spray bottle. Cleaning and emptying a previously used spray bottle of its chemicals is necessary before it can be reused.

  2. 2

    Lightly spritz the shirt Spray the shirt from all angles with the spray bottle. Shrinkage can be achieved by dampening the fibers. If you want to avoid the shirt shrinking too much, avoid soaking it completely.

    • The shirt can be spritzed only in the areas where you want it to shrink, like the armholes. [7]
  3. 3

    Tumble dry the shirt Dry it for two minutes on the permanent press setting in the dryer. [8] Dry for at least two minutes, but check after every minute. Take the shirt out of the dryer when it is dry. The shirt, if it had been stretched out, should now be restored to its original condition and ready for use.

    • The process can be repeated with a higher dryer heat setting if further shrinkage is desired.
    • To further eliminate any lingering odors, throw a fabric softener sheet into the dryer with your shirt.

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  1. 1

    Visit a seamstress or tailor. Instead of trying to shrink a valuable shirt at home, you may want to take it to a tailor or seamstress. [9] Take it to a tailor or seamstress and have it adjusted to your exact specifications. [10]

  2. 2

    Send it to the dry cleaners to be shrunken. Even if the care label says "dry clean only," your dry cleaner may be able to help you with the shrinking process. Inquire at the dry cleaner if they offer shirt shrinking services if you have a shirt that requires dry cleaning but you'd like to get it tailored to a smaller size.

    • In general, dry cleaning will not cause your clothes to shrink unless the machine is leaking water. [11] However, dry cleaners may have an option for shrinking clothes without damaging the fabric or the color.
  3. 3

    Get in touch with a knitwear expert. If the knit shirt is particularly valuable, you could have it unpicked and reknit in a smaller size. While this may not be the most cost-effective option, it could be a safer bet when shopping for a designer knit shirt. [12]

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New Question
  • Question

    Any advice on how to shrink a red cotton shirt to its proper size?

    Community Answer

    Instead of throwing the shirt in with the rest of the laundry, try washing it by itself on the highest setting possible. The High-Temperature Drying Mode

  • Question

    Would the printed designs on my cotton shirt survive a wash in hot water?

    Community Answer

    The medium in which the image was printed can make a difference. Assuming it is plastisol or another properly set screen-printed medium, you should be fine. However, if you're doing it yourself with a Sharpie, there's a chance of bleeding.

  • Question

    If I washed it in the sink with warm water and dried it in the dryer, would it shrink?

    Community Answer

    The addition of vinegar and lime, assuming the material is suitable, should do the trick.

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Daniela Gutierrez-Diaz

Daniela Gutierrez-Diaz contributed to this article. Designer and patternmaker Daniela Gutierrez-Diaz works at DGpatterns in Vancouver, Canada. Daniela's designs, honed over the course of more than five years, are timeless in their ability to adapt to the whirlwind pace of modern life. Her On the Cutting Floor blog is a treasure trove of sewing advice and free downloadable patterns. There have been 830,149 views of this article.

Co-authors: 19

Updated: March 7, 2022

Views:  830,149

Categories: T Shirts

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