How to Shrink Clothes – Your Weekend Project Guide

When you buy new clothes, the last thing on your mind is to shrink them.

But after a while, and after some wear and tear, you might end up with a shirt that has a more extended hemline, pulled sleeves, or is just too huge.

At that point, you might ask yourself, how to shrink clothes?

What you need to remember is that different materials shrink differently.

They also require different methods of shrinking.

Before you start thinking about how to shrink clothes, check the label to see the fabrics.

For starters, cotton is a lot easier to shrink than fabrics like polyester, silk or denim.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at four different methods for shrinking clothes.

Method No.1 – Shrink with boiling water

boiling water

  1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Put in the garments you want to shrink inside, and then turn off the heat.
  3. With a wooden spoon, make sure your clothes are entirely immersed.
  4. Leave the clothes inside for 5 to 7 minutes, and then turn off the heat.
  5. Let them cool off before taking it out.
  6. Wring to check how much it shrank.
  7. Put your clothes in a dryer or hang them to air dry.


  • Cotton shrinks easily with this method. Sometimes, it might bleed color, so make sure that you keep your clothes separately. Never put in whites with other colored clothes
  • Polyester does not shrink quickly, but the procedure remains the same. The only difference is that you might have to repeat the procedure to get the desired result
  • Denim will take a lot longer. To make the procedure easier, roll the jeans, or any other denim clothes, and throw them into the pot of boiling water. Leave them inside for 20 to 30 minutes before turning off the heat
  • Being that silk is protein fiber, the fabrics will shrink the minute they are exposed to heat in any form, which means it takes less time. Therefore, put the fabrics in the boiling water, and then turn off the heat immediately

Method No.2 – Shrink using the washing machine and dryer

washing machine

You can use the same devices you use for washing for shrinking clothes as well.

It is all about how you use the washing machine.

  1. Throw in the garments inside the washer.
  2. Put it in the hot water setting, and set the program for the longest cycle.
  3. Take your clothes out, and then put them in a dryer.
  4. Use the highest heat setting again.


  • Silk will shrink and lose the shine if constantly exposed to high heat. Therefore, instead of the long cycle, use the mesh and run in moderate heat setting. Use delicate heat setting on the dryer and avoid using chlorine or bleach-based detergents while washing silk clothes
  • If your washer has a denim setting, use it. If not, use the highest heat setting, as denim can survive high heat. Repeat a few times if you want more shrinking
  • If your cotton is a delicate piece of clothing, use a lesser setting, and repeat if you need more shrinking
  • Polyester can also survive high heat temperatures. However, make sure the quality of fabric is high, as high heat can make your polyester clothes look worn out

Method No.3 – Shrink without using a dryer

washing machine

You can shrink your clothes just by using the washer.

  1. Put the garments inside the washer, and put it in the hot water setting.
  2. As previously, set for the longest cycle.
  3. Take your clothes out, wring them, and then hang them to dry.

In some cases, if you do not need a lot of shrinking, you can use only the washing machine in high temperature


  • Do not put colored cotton clothes in direct sunlight when hanging to air dry. However, put them in a place where there is enough sunshine and heat. This applies only for colored cotton clothes, not for whites
  • Avoid squeezing silk clothes too much, and let any excess water drip naturally
  • For denim clothes, run the washer at the highest heat setting, because you are not using a dryer
  • Polyester is the easiest option for shrinking, washing, and maintaining. Just let them air dry on a clothing line and you are fine. If you need more shrinking, repeat the procedure

Method No.4 – Use a hair dryer

hair dryer

  1. Start by throwing the clothes inside the washer, and put on a hot water setting.
  2. Set for the longest cycle.
  3. After the clothes are washed, take them out, wring, and remove excess water.
  4. Take out your hair dryer, put on the highest possible heat, and get your clothes ready.
  5. Spread the clothes you want to shrink on a flat surface or on ironing board.

Focus on one part at a time.

The method might be more time consuming, but it will solve your shrinking problem.


  • Hair dryer is the easiest option for cotton, linen clothes, and delicates. It is also the fastest way
  • When shrinking polyester clothes, avoid putting the dryer too close to the clothes
  • Denim will take longer time, but the hair dryer will do the trick
  • We said that silk reacts faster to heat, so avoid using the hair dryer. It is enough to run it in a hot water washing machine cycle and then let it air dry

Bonus tips for silk clothes

Being that silk clothes are the most delicate clothes, you always run the risk of ruining your clothes instead of shrinking them.

But do not worry.

We have a couple of tips that will help you shrink your clothes and protect them at the same time.

  • Use a mesh bag to protect silk clothes in a top loading washer
  • Wrap your silk clothes in a towel for a few minutes to remove excess moisture without ruining the clothes. As mentioned previously, you should not wring silk clothes, as it can damage the fabric

Can you stretch shrunken clothes?

Basically, if you want to reverse the procedure, there is a way.

  1. Start by filling up a bucket with lukewarm water.
  2. Add fabric conditioner.
  3. Let your clothes soak inside for 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse off using regular water.
  5. Hang them dry. Avoid the dryer!

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