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🤡😥🤣 If you have clothes that are too baggy, try shrinking them in the wash before taking it to a tailor. Whether it's cotton, denim, polyester, silk, or wool, you should be able to successfully shrink it to the size you need without having to pay for alterations.
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Shrinking Cotton, Denim, or Polyester Fabric
- 1Adjust the temperature setting on your washing machine to hot. Fabric is constantly being stretched and stressed in the process of being made. When fabric is heated, the stress relaxes out, causing the fabric threads/yarn to shorten.XResearch source Applying heat is the most successful way to shrink almost all kinds of fabric.
- 2Wash the clothing on the longest wash cycle available. Heat is even more effective when combined with moisture and movement. This is known as consolidation shrinkage. It releases the tension in cotton, denim, and to some extent polyester threads, reshaping the garment. The longer the fabric can be placed in these conditions, the more it's likely to shrink. XResearch source
- Remove the clothing right after the wash cycle. Do not air dry. Air drying cools off fabric very quickly, making it less likely to shrink.XResearch source
- 3Dry the clothing on a high cycle. High heat is what's needed to cause cotton, denim, and polyester to contract. Just as hot water causes fabric to condense, so does hot air.
- Choose the longest cycle available. Agitation (such as the spinning of the dryer) may help with shrinkage. As the threads receive heat and undergo movement, they shrink.
- Leave the fabric in the dryer until it is completely dry. Hanging it to air dry will cool the fabric too quickly. In the case of denim, it may also cause it to stretch. XResearch source
- 4Repeat the wash and dryer cycles for polyester if the garment hasn't shrunk to your needs. Polyester is a synthetic fiber, and more difficult to shrink than most other fabrics. It is durable and can go through many cycles without damage.
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Shrinking Wool Fabric
- 1Wash the clothing on a delicate, short cycle. Wool is a relatively delicate fabric. It should be treated carefully. Wool fibers, because wool is made of animal hair, consist of hundreds of tiny scales. When exposed to heat, water, or agitation, these scales interlock and mat together, shrinking the fabric. This process is called felting.XResearch source Wool is highly responsive to heat and movement, so a short cycle is ideal.
- 2Dry the garment on a low heat cycle. For wool, movement is at least as important for shrinkage as temperature. The movement of the dryer rubs the scales together and causes the wool to shrink. Wool shrinks very quickly, so it's best to use a low setting.
- 3Check the garment periodically during the cycle to make sure it's shrinking evenly on all sides.XResearch source Because wool is so responsive to heat and movement, it's easy to shrink it too much. If you accidentally shrink the garment smaller than you would like, immediately soak it in cool water for about thirty minutes. Then wrap it in a towel to dry.XResearch source
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Shrinking Silk Fabric
- 1Use a mesh bag to protect silk in a in top-loading washer.XResearch source Top-loading washers open upward, as opposed to front-loading washers with the door built into the side.XResearch source Top-loading washers function using an agitator that sticks up into the basket, spinning and turning the clothes.XResearch source This can be rough on fabric. The mesh bag helps to protect the delicate silk.
- 2Wash the clothing on a delicate, short cycle. Most washing machines have a "delicate" setting with a low temperature, which is ideal. Low heat can tighten the weave, causing it to shrink as the threads pull closer together.XResearch source
- Use a mild detergent. Avoid chlorine bleach at all costs as it will damage the silk.
- Check the silk periodically. You may choose to take the garment out after half a cycle. XResearch source
- 3Wrap the clothing in a towel for a few minutes. This will remove the excess moisture. Do not wring out the garment, as this could damage the fabric.
- 4Air dry the garment. Unlike many other fabrics, silk retains its shape well, and will not stretch. You may hang it up to dry without harming it. Do not place in direct sunlight as this can fade the color, and avoid a wood drying rack as the silk can leave stains on the wood. XResearch source Allow to dry nearly completely. At this point, you may choose to use a dryer to complete the drying process.
- Put the garment in the dryer for five minutes at a time.XResearch source Some tumble dryers have a silk setting. If yours does not, use a heatless air setting.
- Check it often to make sure the silk isn't being damaged. You may want to set a timer to make sure it doesn't stay in the dryer too long. Once the garment has shrunk to your taste, remove.
- QuestionHow much will the first method shrink my garments?Community AnswerThe hotter the water, the more it will shrink. The change shouldn't be enormous though.
- QuestionHow do you shrink nylon pants?Community AnswerNylon clothing typically does not shrink, but will stretch out over time if it has any spandex rubber woven in. Nylon itself may melt in hot dryer. Best bet is to have the pants altered by a seamstress.
- QuestionIf a hoodie has a print on it, would the print also shrink?Community AnswerEverything will shrink. The size of the print may become scrunched, though, so be careful.
- QuestionHow can I shrink leggings that are 95% cotton and 5% spandex?Community AnswerThe first method will work fine. I have leggings that are cotton and spandex and it worked for me.
- QuestionShould I use detergent or fabric softener?Community AnswerIt depends on the material you're washing. Detergent will work on most materials, but softener could work as an alternative.
- QuestionHow do I know what type of fabric it is if it doesn't have a label?Community AnswerSome fabrics are distinguishable, like silk, which feels smooth and slippery. If the fabric is not distinct, you may need to try and find the shirt online or guess by comparing it to your other shirts.
- QuestionHow do I shrink 52% viscose & 42% cotton?Community AnswerYou cant; cotton shrinks, viscose doesn't. Cotton shrinks at very high temperatures, and viscose will only crush.
- QuestionBest-case scenario, how much smaller would the garment be when doing the shrinking cycle once?Community AnswerDon't expect there to be a big difference at first. You'll have to keep trying until it gets to your desired size.
- QuestionHow do I shrink a bath mat?Community AnswerWash it in cold water and then dry it in the dryer. I've done it before, and it worked fine.
- QuestionWill the color of the material I am trying to shrink fade?Community AnswerThe color fades as you wash it. Heat will also wash it out. You can't see a difference if you don't put a whitening solution in when washing.
- For long drying cycles, check the clothing periodically to ensure that you don’t over-shrink the garments.XResearch source
- If you did not achieve the desired shrinkage on the first cycle, repeat the process again. Some fabrics like polyester will take more wash cycles to shrink a significant amount.XResearch source
- To shrink cotton fabrics even further, you can iron them on a warm-steam setting in between the washer and the dryer.XResearch source
- Repeat the process until you have achieved the desired size.
- Do not try to shrink jeans by wearing them in the bath. This is not as effective as hot washing machine and dryer cycles, and is much more uncomfortable.
- Drying jeans in a dryer cycle that is over 100 degrees will ruin any leather patches there may be on the jeans.
- Never try to shrink leather or fur with a washing machine. The moisture and heat can seriously damage the clothing.XResearch source
Things You'll Need
- A washer
- A dryer
- Clothing that needs to be shrunk
About This Article
To shrink clothes in the wash, wash them on the longest cycle available with hot water. Then, dry the clothes on a high-heat cycle until they're completely dry. If the clothes didn't shrink enough, repeat the process. If you're trying to shrink wool or silk clothes, use a short, delicate cycle so you don't damage them. For tips on air drying clothes that you want to shrink, scroll down!