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Fixing Shrunken Clothing

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]We’ve all seen it happen or experienced it at least once in our lives. You buy a brand new clothing item that you fall in love with. It fits just right, it looks freaking awesome on you, and you make a vow right there in the store to never, ever put it in the dryer… Then someone else does the laundry. You open the dryer to the horrifying sight of that favorite new clothing item shrunken and still warm from the traumatizing tumble. Your heart breaks a little as you try on the item with a glimmer of hope that it still fits. Then, devastation sets in…

Ok, so maybe it’s not nearly that dramatic. However, it is pretty unfortunate to find favorite clothing items shrunken and ill-fitting after a hot tumble in the dryer. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to fix that? Get ready, because there is! Today I’m going to show you my results from following the internet’s instructions on how to fix shrunken clothing. I say the “internet’s instructions” only because I’ve seen countless blog posts and Pinterest pins about this topic and many of them clash. Some say you need cold water while others say hot. Some of them use baby shampoo while others claim hair conditioner is better. I read through so many of them before deciding that I would try this myself in whatever way seemed most logical. Got something that you need to unshrink? Grab it and let’s go![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

You will need just a few simple items to fix your shrunken clothing:

  • Shrunken clothing item(s)
  • Cheap hair conditioner (I used Suave)
  • A towel
  • Sink or basin to soak the clothing in
  • Hard, flat surface to work on

I had a shirt that was baggy to begin with, but was just the right length to wear with my leggings. When it went through the dryer it shrunk mostly length-wise and was a little bit tight under my arms. My boyfriend also had a shirt shrink and his was ok in length, but way too tight in the chest for his liking. Here’s my shirt after being run through the dryer. It hangs a little funny in the front and doesn’t come down to cover me.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1858″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Now, before you get started I have to give my disclaimer. This method will work in fabrics that are elastic like cotton or polyester. I have not tested this on sweaters, jeans, or any other materials, and I also haven’t tested it on clothing that is just too small (wasn’t shrunk or dried). If you would like to try to stretch out some jeans or something that’s just too small, please let me know in the comments how this worked for you![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Step 2: Soaking The Clothes

Start by filling a basin or sink with lukewarm water. You don’t need a full sink, just enough to submerge the clothing in. Mix in your conditioner. I used a quarter of a bottle of Suave coconut conditioner (made my shirt smell AWESOME). I only used this much because it was old and I wanted to get rid of it. You probably only need about a quarter of a cup of conditioner.

Submerge your clothing into the water and make sure they’re soaked the whole way through.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1864″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Agitate the clothing with your hands to work the conditioner into the fabric. I could only do this one handed to take the video, but it’s pretty easy and self-explanatory.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1893″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]At this point, I put some more conditioner directly onto the clothing item and worked it in outside the water. This is optional, and might be overkill, but I really, really wanted this to work so I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything.

Finally, just leave the clothing submerged in the water for 10-15 mins. You can leave it in as long as you want, but I pulled mine out after 15 mins because I’m impatient.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1867″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Step 3: The Stretching Process

Remove your clothes from the water and ring them out. You can twist and squeeze it all you want because, hey, you want it to stretch anyways don’t you? Get the majority of the water out so it’s not dripping wet.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1870″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Find a hard, flat surface to work on. Lay out your towel and lay the clothing flat on top of it. If it’s a shirt, fold the sleeves in so that they are straight along the sides of the shirt.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1872″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Start at the bottom and roll the towel up tightly with the clothing inside. Your goal here is to soak up most of the water but still leave the item damp.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1875″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Once the towel is completely rolled, press your hand along the roll and squeeze it as well. This will help pull the water out of the clothing and be absorbed by the towel.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1896″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_single_image image=”1899″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Unroll the towel and straighten out the sleeves if needed. Now you can begin stretching. Depending on where the item shrunk determines how you will stretch it. My shirt shrunk length-wise, so I stretched it from top to bottom. I was also fixing a shirt for my boyfriend that had shrunk in the chest, so I stretched this one width wise. To lengthen pants, all you would need to do is pull down on the legs. To make them loose, stretch width wise in the areas when they’re tight.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Continue to stretch the clothing until it’s at the desired size, length, etc. Then just hang it up to dry and you’re done! Some posts I read suggested that you clip weights onto the bottom of the clothing while they hang. I don’t personally think this is a good idea because I feel it would cause certain points to be pulled more than others. If you’d like to do this though, go for it. I can see how it would help with the stretching process.

Ta-da! Here are my results below:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1884″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]


[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1858″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_single_image image=”1861″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]


[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1890″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_single_image image=”1887″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The shirt is definitely longer. Before, the front hung at my waistband along my hips and the back didn’t quite cover my butt (which was not good for wearing it with leggings). After I stretched it out, it was back to covering my behind and hangs about 2 inches below my hips in the front. Perfect!

That’s cool but, why does it work?

Well, I don’t know the exact scientific reason, but I can draw a pretty good conclusion based on simple logic. Knit, elastic fabrics are made of thousands of tiny threads woven together. When you dry your clothes, the threads shrink length-wise and therefore tighten the weave of the fabric. This is what makes the clothing fit tighter or shrink in length. In order to reverse this, you have to soften and relax the threads and pull them back to their original length to make the weave more loose. The hair conditioner, along with warm water, helps to relax and soften the threads and make them more pliable. Once they’re soft, you can stretch and pull them however you’d like and they will start to stretch back out. Hanging the item to dry is also a big factor here if you’re trying to lengthen the item. Hanging it will cause all the water to run to the bottom of the garment and the top will dry first. When the top is dry and the bottom has the weight of the water, it will pull the garment downwards and assist with stretching it out.

Have you had any success with fixing shrunken clothing? Feel free to share it with me in the comments below! Have a question about the process? Ask that in the comments as well! I hope this helps someone save a favored article of clothing and makes them think twice about giving it away. Not all hope is lost! Thanks for reading![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]