Sustainability made simple

Here’s How You Can Unshrink Your Clothes

can you unshrink clothes
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / StockSnap

You’ve woken up one morning and put your favorite jumper on, only now it’s too tight. This guide will give you some practical tips and remedies for how to unshrink your clothes again.

Accidents do happen: you accidentally put your favorite piece of clothing in a washing machine or dryer on too high a heat, or forgot to read the instructions that say must “wash cold”, and you find it’s shrunk.

But how and why do clothes shrink? Clothes are made by weaving natural fibers together into a cloth and stretching that into the piece of clothing desired. Because of this, when the natural fibers in your clothes come in contact with water and heat from your laundry routine they may shrink back to their normal state.

There are numerous factors why clothes shrink and why it is all the more important to follow what it says on the clothing label. This could be anything from texture to tension the fabric was under when the piece of clothing was made to the moisture-absorbing abilities which make clothing appear smaller when washed.

The best way to prevent clothes from shrinking is to hand wash in cold water with a small amount of laundry detergent. Alternatively, wash your clothes on a lower setting and leave them to air dry for longer life. The environment will thank you for it too!

Look out for the fabric labels on your garments for more precise instructions. Do a bit of research on the material if need be. Delicate cycles are also more gentle on your clothes.

Below we will break down different materials like cotton and denim and how to unshrink them.

How to Unshrink Cotton

Your clothes shrunk? Don't panic. There're different ways to unshrink them.
Your clothes shrunk? Don’t panic. There’re different ways to unshrink them. (Foto: CC0 / Unsplash / Priscilla Du Preez)

When washing cotton, either lower the temperature of your washing machine or hand-wash it and air dry the clothes to prevent them from shrinking. Here’s how to prevent cotton clothing from shrinking:

  1. Fill a sink with warm water and mix with two tablespoons of your homemade laundry detergent/ DIY fabric softener.
  2. Add your piece of cotton clothing and leave to soak for half an hour.
  3. Empty the water from the sink and wring it out of the fabric without rinsing.
  4. Roll up in a towel to remove any excess water.
  5. Lightly stretch and pin the edges of the garment to air dry and retain its original shape

How to Unshrink Animal Fibers

Often with animal fibers like wool and cashmere, you will see the instructions asking to hand wash or to wash at a lower temperature. So what do you do when your piece of animal fiber clothing shrinks?

Here’s how to unshrink animal fibers:

  1. Fill a sink with warm water and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
  2. Soak your piece of clothing in the water, working and stretching it while soaking.
  3. Not rinsing, wring all of the water out of the fabric.
  4. Place towels inside to shape it to its original size and shake and stretch it off.
  5. Hang to dry.

How to Stretch Out Denim Clothing

Denim doesn't always thrive well in a washing machines.
Denim doesn’t always thrive well in a washing machines. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Pexels)

We’ve all been there: pulling up our favorite jeans and feeling frustrated as it wasn’t that small last time. Whatever it is: the shorter legs, the tighter waste, the proportional fit – we’ve got you sorted.

Here’s how to unshrink your piece of denim clothing:

  1. Leave to soak in a sink full of warm water for half an hour.
  2. Squeeze the water out of the garment.
  3. Put it on while wet and move around for about an hour to allow it to readapt to its natural size and flexibility.
  4. Hang it out to dry.

How to Unshrink Synthetic Fibers

With synthetic fabrics like rayon and polyester, the heat from the dryer is likely to cause shrinkage and so it is often advised not to place them in the dryer. More delicate than cotton it is not advised to wring out.

Here’s how to unshrink synthetic fibers:

  1. Fill a sink with warm water and add 1-2 tablespoons of shampoo/ conditioner. The shampoo helps the delicate fibers relax.
  2. Add your garment and leave to soak for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove the clothing and gently squeeze it dry – without wringing it.
  4. Stretch to its original shape and allow to dry. You also can use steam to relax the fibers and pin the edges in place to maintain the shape during drying.

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