Unshrinking a sweater, shirt, pants, or other types of clothing is a startlingly easy task to do. We all know having your favorite clothes not fit after washing and drying isn’t ideal. Your first reaction may be to take these cherished clothing items to the donation pile. Don’t hurry off yet. But first…
Why do clothes shrink?
One of the major reasons clothes shrink is because you left them in the dryer for a long time, but the real shrinking cause is probably not what you think.
Research by P&G senior scientist and fabric care expert Laura Goodman confirmed that contrary to popular opinion, “Heat does not affect the shrinkage; It’s the tumbling spin inside your dryer that causes the fibers and yarns to come closer together.”
She confirms that cotton and knit fabrics (think: t-shirts and sweaters) and any other related fabrics have more elasticity, so it’s easier for them to spring back to their initial size.
How To Unshrink Various Clothing Types After Drying
You should also note that fabrics that are likely to shrink will do so in increments. The main part of the shrinkage, Goodman says, occurs during the first one to three times you wash it. Though, it can take five to ten washing cycles before it reaches maximum shrinkage.
How To Unshrink Wool
Unshrinking a wool garment is pretty similar to that of cotton. Just fill up your sink or bathtub with lukewarm water and pour in a quarter cup quantity of fabric softener or hair conditioner and let it soak for ten to fifteen minutes.
Bring it out to check how it looks, once you are comfortable with the size, drain the water out of the sink and rinse the item in cold water.
Gently squeeze the fabric by removing as much water as possible, but try not to wring it out. Spread out the garment flat between two towels or any microfiber cloths, this is to absorb the excess water. Then, let it air dry.
How To Unshrink Cotton
To return your favorite cotton piece of fabric to its former glory, Max Appel, cleaning expert and founder of Orange Glo, says you need to first fill up a sink or tub with warm water and one tablespoon of either fabric softener, shampoo, or just your regular detergent, you can stir evenly to make sure the product completely dissolves.
Place your fabric in the water and let it soak for an hour, before gently stretching it. “Cotton is a very forgiving fabric,” Appel says, but you still need to ensure you’re pulling it lightly and evenly, so it sustains its shape. Rinse it out with cold water afterward.
To get rid of water from the clothing without further damaging it, Appel suggests that you place the material on a towel and roll them together, this will make the towel absorbs the water.
You can finally unfold the towel and spread the fabric on a flat surface to air dry.
How To Unshrink Denim
So you can’t fit into your favorite baby blues garment anymore? Experts recommend spraying the denim with warm water using a clean spray bottle. Then use a cloth (or a tailor’s ham) to pat it down and tug on the endings to stretch it out.
Try to also hang them upside down from the legs to air dry. If they are still looking tight or too small, put them on, and spray them with distilled water, Squat and bend at the knees to widen them to your liking.
How To Unshrink Cashmere
If your cashmere sweater is fitting a little too tight after drying, repeat the same procedures as with unshrinking cotton. The difference is just to let it soak longer for thirty minutes to about an hour, then give it a slight stretch while doing so.
Follow up with a cold water rinse. Then roll the fabric in a towel to get rid of excess water and let it air dry.
How To Unshrink Synthetic Fibers
With clothing made from synthetic fibers, it’s the same kind of process. However, since synthetic fibers are more sensitive than the other item on the list, you should only soak them for fifteen minutes while periodically lifting them full-length out of the water by the shoulders.
The weight of the water will help in stretching the material. You can as well give the clothing ends a little tug too, but try not to wring them out. Instead, rinse it with cold water and use the same towel-drying method.
Always note that some materials may require repeating the method more than once, and in case you’re in a time pinch and need to run out the door, just spritz the clothing item with water and pull on its corners to stretch it a bit.
How To Avoid Clothe Shrinkage
Always Check The Label
The labels attached to your fabrics aren’t just there to make you itchy or uncomfortable. They have all the relevant details you need to know, like what the fabric material is made from and how to wash it best to prevent shrinkage and damage.
Wash The Gentle Cycle With Cold Water
For having a proper cloth wash while minimizing shrinkage, always separate your colored fabrics from the white ones and separate delicate fabrics from more durable garments, then wash them independently on the gentlest cycle possible with cold water.
The cold water is especially important when you are dry cleaning dark clothes; this is to avoid shrinking, fading, and bleeding out of dyes. Plus, cold water saves energy too.
Make Use of fabric conditioner
Clothing fibers (which are of similar textures to hair fibers) can become damaged over time due to rubbing against other fabrics in the wash as well as heat from the dryer.
That’s why experts recommend adding a fabric conditioner to your rinse cycle, this smoothens out the fabric fibers and prevents friction, which can stretch and damage your clothes.
Using the different methods above and learning how to unshrink your garment after drying is a quick and easy process. We hope you find one that works best for you.