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How to Shrink Clothes - Different Fabrics and Material

September 10, 2020

Most of the time, people do everything they can to avoid their clothes from shrinking or succumbing to wrinkles. But there are also times when shrinking your clothes on purpose can make you rock your favorite t-shirt or shorts a whole lot better. 

Whether you’re jumping on a fashion trend or trying to fit into an oversized piece of clothing, shrinking is a thing — and it’s here to stay.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to shrink different types of clothing and a step-by-step shrink procedure that you can follow to do it without any hitch.

How to Shrink Clothes: A Complete Guide

a rack of clothes with different colors

1. Find out the fabric type

Before you even begin the shrinking, the first and most important step is to determine your clothing’s fabric type. Different fabrics like cotton, polyester, wool and others shrink differently and will require different methods of shrinking. 

For example, garments made out of cotton will give you the best results as they are usually shrink friendly. On the other hand, leather and fur are almost a no-go because they will only be more likely to get ruined than altered by the process.

2. Choose the right shrinking technique


  • To begin, wash the fabric first in hot water.
  • Once done, put it inside the dryer and set it on high heat to shrink.
  • Make sure to check the garment’s size and form throughout the drying cycle. This is especially important if it’s the first time you’re washing it and it’s not a pre-shrunk garment.
  • If the clothing still looks large enough, set the dryer to low heat or air dry and let it run until dry. 


  • Wash the garment in hot water.
  • Place the garment inside the dryer and leave it to dry.
  • Run the dryer using medium heat to shrink and take out the garment once it’s fully dry.


  • Before you even shrink, wash the polyester fabric in cold water.
  • Put it inside the dryer. 
  • Turn on the dryer and set it to high heat to shrink your clothes. Do this until the garment's dry.

Pre-shrunk or older garments

  • To begin, boil water for the garment.
  • Afterwards, soak the garment in a tub or sink filled with the hot water. Make sure the water soaks the entire piece of clothing thoroughly.
  • Once done, transfer the garment to the washing machine. Be sure to use hand gloves or a stick to avoid injuring yourself.
  • Wash the garment in hot water using a small amount of washing detergent.
  • After washing, put the garment inside the dryer and set it on high heat to shrink.
  • Once done, check the size of the garment and see if it has shrunk to your liking. If it’s still too large, simply repeat the first five steps if you want to shrink your clothes further until you get your desired size.

3. Turn up the heat

When it comes to shrinking clothes of any type, all you need is the right amount of heat and you’re good to go. While cotton and polyester will both react differently to the process of shrinking, they are still achieved by turning up the heat. Whether you need higher or lower heat is entirely up to your garment’s needs as mentioned above.

4. Finish off slow

Whatever happens in the process, it’s important to remember shrinking your clothes doesn’t happen instantaneously. It takes the right amount of time and accurate heat to make sure you’re not damaging the garment or going overboard with the shrinking.

Once you’re done shrinking your shirt or sweater to the size that you want, simply remove them from the heat or dryer and leave them hanging up the air to dry. Afterwards, hang it up again in a cool place to let it dry some more and prevent any more shrinkage from happening.

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