Apparently, You Can 'Un-Shrink' Cotton Clothes—Here's How

This genius laundry hack helps to revive shrunken cotton clothing.

Photo: Getty Images

Even the most adept laundry pros fall victim to the occasional cleaning blunder—bleach stains and pink sheets included. (What is it with red socks?) But perhaps the number one laundry mistake involves shrinking our most cherished cotton clothing. No matter how much of a skilled laundress you claim to be, shrunken clothes are simply unavoidable, and this laundry gaffe has left us with too many misshapen t-shirts to count. Fortunately, all is not lost when you've inflicted unintentional heat damage.

According to fabric expert Suzanne Holmes of Cotton Incorporated, because cotton is a natural, breathable fiber, it may shrink when heated. If you find yourself with a teeny, tiny top in your hands, fully saturate the damaged shirt in water. Holmes then suggests gently stretching your wet shirt out on a flat surface or drying rack to the desired size. "Keep the shirt in place with household weights like heavy jars or cans," Holmes says. Take extra care with this step, since too many tugs may further distort the shape of the garment you're trying to salvage. Once you get the piece to its desired size, leave the garment out to air dry.

If your clothes still seem to get smaller with every wash, Holmes suggests taking cotton pieces out of the dryer while they're still damp and air drying them the rest of the way. Aside from keeping your clothing in tip-top shape, you're also conserving energy.

As for the most important laundry lesson we could all stand to learn? Always, always review an item of clothing's label before tossing it in the wash. "When buying clothes, opt for quality cotton pieces that fit," she says. "And you should check the label and follow care instructions closely to keep your cotton items newer, longer."

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles