How to Unshrink Clothing Using Fabric Softeners

We all love that particular piece of clothing that gives comfort and makes us look beautiful. That’s why giving utmost love and care to that piece of clothing is very essential when doing the laundry.

Now imagine doing the laundry, putting your clothing into the dryer, and removing it only to discover that your prized fabric has shrunk. It can be annoying, to say the least.

But not to worry, all you need to do is get some mildly heated water and fabric softener. Yes, fabric softener can do pretty much a whole lot of things. 

Why Do Clothes Shrink?

There are different types of fabric and the reason for their shrinkage depends on the individual type. Many of these fabrics like linen tend to shrink because they dry after they get humid and flexible while wool tends to “felt” or get matted down by heat, moisture, and tension when they are not washed correctly. 

Generally, clothing tends to shrink when they’re left too long in the dryer. The tumbling motion in the dryer in addition to the heat in the dryer causes the fibers of the fabric to stick together resulting in a decrease in the fiber’s length. 

Though not all fabrics shrink easily, some are susceptible to shrinking in just one to five cycles of laundry. 

How Can I Unshrink My Clothing With Fabric Softener?

Fabric softener can be used for many purposes apart from just softening and adding fragrances to clothing. There are many kinds of fabric and each method of unshrinking depends on its tolerance and quality.

Clothing such as cotton, silk, and linen is known as natural fabrics. 

While they often easily get shrunk during laundry, they are pretty much easy to get them to unshrink with fabric softeners. 

If your clothing has gotten shrunk after laundering, These steps will help unshrink them.

What you’ll need;

  • Mildly heated water
  • A large bowl
  • A bottle of fabric softener
  •  Two towels (optional)
  • Your piece of fabric


  • When you bring your fabric out of the dryer and discover that it shrunk, Place the clothing on a flat area and estimate the areas of the fabric that would need unshrinking. 
  • Fill a large bowl halfway with mildly hot water. The water causes the garments to “ease up”, allowing them to stretch.
  • Fill a measuring cup with 30ml or ⅛ cup of fabric softener and add to the water. The fabric softener smoothens its fibers and removes friction to allow for stretching. You can use Downy fabric softener for this.
  • Stir the mixture, put your cotton clothing inside and leave the fabric to soak in the mixture for about 20 minutes or a half-hour. Clothing like cashmere usually requires more than the time for cotton, say 40 minutes to 1 hour while for woolen clothing, it’s much lesser; 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • After it’s properly soaked, take the fabric out of the mixture. Polyester clothing may require that you remove and dip back into the mixture several times for much water to be absorbed in it to make it stretch further. 
  • After taking it out, ensure you squeeze gently, but take care so you do not add further pressure to the fabric or you can place it between the 2 towels and twirl the towel to allow it absorb the surplus water. Fabric types like polyester and spandex are sensitive clothing, so you might want to take extra care to perform this procedure. 
  • Then you can rinse the clothing with cool water and set it on a flat surface while stretching the fabric. You can do this by tugging the clothing’s margins to the length you prefer. However, you should not overextend it. Afterwards, you can dry the cloth and that’s all you need to unshrink your clothing with fabric softener. 

How Can I Prevent My Clothing From Shrinking

  • Properly dry your clothing

Many people dry their clothing using two methods; air drying and tumble drying. If you use the tumble-drying technique, ensure you do not overdry your clothing by leaving them in the dryer for long because the addition of excess heat to your clothing results in shrinkage.

If you use the air-dry method, make sure you air them properly to remove moisture. 

  • Examine your clothing’s label

On the interior of the clothing, there are always labels. Check to see if your clothing needs to be hand-washed, machine washed, or tumble dried, as well as the best temperature.

Failure to do so may cause your clothing to shrink.

  • Set your washer to cold wash

Before you do this, sort your laundry so you do not wash incompatible clothing pieces together like wool and silk.

After doing this, set your washer to cold wash to prevent your clothing from shrinking and waning its colors away. 

Apart from using fabric softeners for unshrinking clothing, you can also use a hair conditioner or baby shampoo if you’ve got any. They’re also great for unshrinking clothing. 

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