How to Unshrink Cotton Fabric

Cotton is a soft fiber that’s usually combined with other fabrics to make clothing products. While the most common blends for cotton materials are cotton-lycra and cotton-polyester, there are other types of cotton materials on the market. Cotton shrinkage isn’t uncommon if you use mechanized washing.

Why Your Cotton Fabrics Shrink

Your cotton fabric shrinks due to the structure of the cotton fibers; it changes due to heat from the dryer. Setting your drier to the highest temperature level can cause the threads in your cotton to expand; thereby loosening the weave in the fabric.

Another good reason why your Clothes shrink is when they are washed in hot water too often. The result is much worse when the cotton fabric is of a loosely woven stretchy material. Cotton most of the time is always tough in its original form.

As a result, they’re more likely to shrink faster than the kinds of cotton made from other fabrics. On the other hand, wool and polyester are more heat resistant and absorb less water.

Drying your clothes in the machine will also shrink them over time. So try as much as you can to do most washing activities manually especially when it comes to cotton fabrics.

The good news here is that most cotton fabrics have a warning sign when you check on the label, so always ensure you read it. If it’s not meant for the machine, then keep it away from the laundry machine.

How To Fix Shrunken Cotton

Method 1: Use Conditioner or Baby Shampoo

Step 1

Wet your cotton fabric evenly.

You can pour a little amount of liquid soap into a bowl of water or sink. Use cool water (it’s the best type of water for any shrinking procedure) to make sure all the fabric spots have been submerged in the mixture.

Step 2

Add a quarter cup of any hair conditioner to the water. You can opt for a baby shampoo in case you don’t have any hair conditioner at home.

Mix it up gently and evenly with a stick or sports bat. Ensure the conditioner completely dissolves into the water. This will soften the fabric fibers and make them stretch.

Step 3

Use your hands to push the cotton down to the bottom of the mixture in the bowl (this is to ensure your fabric is submerged). Leave it there for half an hour.

Step 4

Take your cotton material out of the bowl or just drain the water from the and fill it again with cool water.

Gentle press out the conditioned water from the cotton fabric and then soak it again for about ten minutes.

Try to remove the water from the cotton material by giving it a light squeeze. Rinse and repeat this step till you are certain that there’s no more conditioner residue in the cotton.

Step 5

Spread it on a smooth surface to air dry

This method works best for 100% cotton fabrics.

Method 2: Stretch Your Cotton with Hands

Step 1

Dry clean the affected fabric using the laundry machine or your hands. Rinse it and squeeze out the excess water, ensure you don’t wring the fabric; you can just press gently on the cotton. Doing that will ensure you don’t interfere with the shape of the garment.

Step 2

Place your cotton on a flat surface and spread it evenly, ensuring there are no folds or wrinkles on it.

Step 3

Hold one side of the fabric and pull onto each corner of it. Stretch the cotton gently and gradually (don’t stretch with force lest you damage it), starting with each spot, slightly pulling it by an inch or two, till you get the desired result.

Step 4

Spread the cotton flat and let it air dry, you can also hand it out in the open(if that option will work best for you).

Method 3: Stretch Your Cotton with irons

Step 1

Give the affected cotton material a cold wash, Rinse it and squeeze out the excess water

Don’t try to wring it, just press on the cotton till you’re able to extract as much water out as you possibly can.

Step 2

Put it on a clean surface (you can use your ironing board). Spread out the fabric evenly and ensure that there are no folds or wrinkles on it.

Step 3

Pull onto each corner of your cotton. Stretch the cotton, starting with each sleeve, slightly pulling by an inch or two. Stretch along the collar of the cotton and the top line of it.

Step 4

Try to squeeze out any extra water and spread it on a broad surface for ironing (an ironing board will work best), also ensure that your iron’s temperature is on level 3.

Gently and gradually go over your cotton while exerting slight pressure. With your cotton material in one hand and the iron in the other, start by pulling and stretching out the fabric as you press it with the iron.

Go over the cotton in all directions.

Step 5

Hang it outside to dry.

Method 4: Using a Cloth Hanger

Step 1

This method is great for stretching super hard and stubborn kinds of cotton, which can be a bit difficult to unshrink using the regular methods.

Soak your shrunken cotton in conditioned water.

Remove the cotton material from the water and squeeze it to remove any extra water.

Step 2

Tug on the cotton to remove the creases and folds.

Step 3

Hang it on a hanger at home to air dry.

How to Avoid Shrinking your Cotton

Method 1: Avoid Heat

As we’ve said earlier on, always dry clean your cotton in cold water. Heat will shrink your cotton materials over time.

Method 2: Read the Instructions

Always try to read and follow the instructions on the product label.

If you stick to the instructions on these labels, you can prevent shrinkage and damage to your favorite cotton fabric.

Method 3: Air Dry

Always air dry your cotton, it’s certainly the best drying method. Try to wear something else in case you’re in a hurry. Do not be tempted to put your favorite cotton material in the dryer.

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