How to unshrink shrunken clothes

Originally published at: How to unshrink shrunken clothes | Boing Boing


Hrm. I have a pair of cashmere socks I might try this with, because I very much miss their pre-dryer comfyness…


I learned this same trick a few years ago and can attest to its successfulness.

Nice thing is I was able to get my wool sweater to sort of custom fit by stretching the sleeves a little more to work with my tallness.


Valuable advice but sadly too late. Any shrunken items have long since gone to the charity shops, and I’m a lot more careful these days. But you never know…

I’d assume it works better if the article has not been allowed to dry - has shrunk in a hot wash, perhaps. Btu if it works on things shrunk in the tumble dryer, that’s impressive.

(And the author of that article has apparently never seen the word wring written down, only heard it.)


You typically don’t even need to go as far as getting goo involved.

It’s heat that shrinks it.

You can typically stretch it back out using an Iron or cloths steamer.

You just apply a lot of heat and steam, more than you would to get rid of wrinkles. Then just pull to stretch it back out, using the ironing board or a hanger as an anchor.

If it’s real shrunk or doesn’t stretch well, you spray it heavily with water or even soak it.

I tried the conditioner thing once, not only did it not work. But I ended up throwing out the shirt. I don’t remember if the conditioner stained it or I had trouble getting it off. But with the shirt still shrunk it wasn’t worth dealing with.

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It is also the pH, which is why they are using a conditioner which tends to have a low pH (detergents are usually alkaline). According to this, it’s also other factors such as “epidermal scales”, “creep” and “twist” of the fibers, but I think what they’re doing here is mainly impacted by the pH.

Of course, this pertains to woolens, I’m not sure what happens with plant fibers.


Yeah there’s bunch of stuff going on before it hits the dryer. But it tends to be that “and now a hot dryer” step that actually triggers the shrinking.

I’ve yet to find something the iron doesn’t work on. Though it’s not always perfect. Hems and seams tend to be less stretchy or flexible to begin with so on some garments they won’t return to their original size as easily. But they tend not to shrink as much in the first place.

Things can be sort of rumpled around seams and uneven if you do a rush job. And repeatedly shrinking and stretching a garment is hard on stitching.

But it’s the best solution I’ve run into.


Being allergic to wool has its benefits. I cannot remember shrinking anything in the dryer for decades.

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Deborah Harry?

My clothes feel like they’ve shrunk, but I don’t think it’s from washing them.


Does this work on leather chaps?

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