Five Simple Ways To Shrink A Shirt Update 07/2022

Having a t-shirt that doesn’t quite fit is a pain, as anyone who has ever received one of those generic one-size-fits-all t-shirts at a company event can attest to. To solve this problem, you may want to try shrinking the garment. All you need to learn how to shrink a shirt is some common household items.

There’s no better way to shrink most shirts than washing them in hot water and then drying them. Many types of fabrics will shrink as a result of the heat and friction. In comparison to synthetic materials like polyester, cotton shirts shrink quite quickly when exposed to heat.

In this post, you’ll learn how to shrink shirts using five simple approaches. This guide will teach you how to shrink shirts to the exact size that you need them to be for your body type. It is also possible to shrink a shirt without ruining its printed design, so here are some tips.

How To Shrink A Shirt

How Do You Shrink Clothes That Are Too Big?

Clothing that is overly large can usually be shrunk by washing in hot water or drying them. To obtain the perfect temperature, you may need to use a handheld steamer or an iron with a finer tip. There are a number of factors that might cause shrinkage, such as heat, moisture, and friction.

However, you’ll notice that not all of your garments will contract in the same way. Fabrics react differently to heat, and this is why this occurs. There are two major differences in today’s clothing: synthetic versus natural materials.

T-shirts and some button-downs are among the most popular items of apparel since they are made of 100% cotton. The plant fibers in this organic fabric respond quickly to changes in temperature, moisture, and friction. As a result, natural fibers can generally be said to be extremely elastic in their ability to compress and expand.

Polyester, for example, is a synthetic fabric manufactured in a laboratory and produced in massive factories. They are basically made of plastic, and the plastic fibers are resistant to environmental changes. The fact that polyester does not rip or stain readily is one of its numerous advantages.

Polyester shirts cannot be shrunk as easily as cotton shirts, which is a bummer for those who desire to do so. In general, synthetic fabrics are less prone to elongation than natural fibers.

Checking the manufacturer’s label inside the garment to determine what kind of fabric it includes is the first step in shrinking your shirt.

Next, check to see if your garment has been subjected to any specific treatments that could affect its shrinkage. Preshrinking, a process used by many cotton clothing makers, has recently gained popularity. Stain and shrink resistance can be improved further by applying chemical coatings to polyester clothes.

It’s going to be difficult to shrink the garment in either of these scenarios because of the pre-treatments. Because most people prefer their apparel to remain the same size after they purchase it. Clothes that don’t shrink readily have been developed in response to this demand by manufacturers!

Lastly, make sure you have realistic expectations before you get started on this job. A garment can usually be shrunk by a size without much difficulty. A lot of the time, especially with cotton, you can downsize a garment by three sizes.

There is a limit to what can be done, and it’s difficult or impossible to go any further than that. If you find yourself in this circumstance, the easiest way to modify the garment is with scissors and sewing procedures.

Does Hot Water Shrink Clothes?

Most cotton and wool clothing will shrink in hot water because of the combination of heat and moisture. It’s common for synthetic fabrics like polyester to shrink to the point where boiling water is required.

Ready to learn a little something new? In the end, it seems that each type of fabric shrinks for a variety of distinct causes.

To spin cotton fibers into thread, a spinning procedure is utilized that causes the individual cotton fibers to be stretched. In cotton fibers, hydrogen atoms hold molecules together. The hydrogen atoms in the fibers are stretched to their maximum length when they are spun into a single long thread.

Hydrogen relaxes into its pre-strained structure when cotton is exposed to heat and moisture in the washing machine, giving the appearance that the cotton has shrunk! In reality, the hydrogen molecule that binds all of the molecules together has just shrunk back to its usual size.

Scales are found on the fibers of any protein-based fabric, such as wool. In fact, so does your hair! These scales can become stuck together if they are subjected to heat, moisture, and friction.

Wool clothing can shrink or felt due to the locking scales, which is why so much wool clothing needs to be dry cleaned.

After that, there’s synthetic material. This man-made fabric is extremely durable and has been scientifically engineered so that it will not shrink when washed. Polyester fabrics, for example, have plastic fibers inside that don’t readily absorb water, making it less likely that they will lose their shape when submerged in hot water.

Polyethylene can be shrunk, right? Yes, but only if you put in the effort. Submerging polyester garments in hot water is the simplest method for shrinking it. Fibers become brittle and begin to change shape as a result of this.

Physically damaging the polyester molecules at a molecular level is the only way to shrink the material. As long as you get it properly, you’ll be able to successfully shrink your polyester apparel using this method!

How to Shrink a Shirt: 5 Easy Methods

Your washing machine or dryer, an iron or steamer, and even a pot of boiling water can all be used to shrink a huge shirt.

As you now know, before attempting any of these techniques, you need determine what type of fabric your garment is made of. It’s possible that you’ll need to test a few different approaches before you find one that works well for shrinking your shirt.

1. Washing Machine

Shrinking a Shirt in the Wash

You can shrink most clothing by a modest amount by washing it in a lengthy, hot cycle if you have a washing machine.

  1. Locate the computer’s settings. Turn on the hot water faucet.
  2. Also, if you have the choice, increase the wash cycle duration to its maximum level. You’ll probably want to use a “heavy” or “long” wash cycle on your machine. In order to shrink your garment as much as possible, you may choose to soak it in hot water before the wash.
  3. For this process, you can use your regular detergent, but you should not use any fabric softeners or other laundry additives.
  4. You may wish to check the status of the shirt a few times during the cycle to avoid over-shrinking it. It is, however, worth noting that every time you open your machine, you will lose some of the heat that is necessary for the shrinking.
  5. You’ll need to dry your garment once it’s been washed in the washing machine. As the fabric fibers are shocked by the cold air during the air drying process, the garment may stretch out again.

2. Without Washing/Ironing

Best way to shrink a shirt

An alternative to washing your clothes is ironing, especially if you don’t have a washing machine. Use the ironing procedure immediately after the washing machine approach for even greater benefits.

  1. To begin, either run your clothing through the washing machine or use a spray bottle filled with warm water to completely dampen it.
  2. Next, lay a pressing cloth on top of your shirt and press. It is possible that a pressing cloth isn’t necessary for some textiles, such 100% cotton. That being said, you’ll want to use a protective cloth on any polyester-containing items.
  3. Make sure the iron’s heat setting matches the shirt’s fabric. To illustrate this point, most flat irons include a “cotton” setting, as well as a “silk” setting or “synthetic” setting.
  4. Every portion of the clothing should be ironed with care and dexterity. Run the iron smoothly and evenly over it. Continue ironing until the fabric no longer has a wet feel to it. This may take some time!
  5. If you let the iron sit on the shirt for an extended period of time, it could cause the fabric to shrink unevenly or possibly leave burn marks.

The ironing process can be used instead of the drying procedure. It’s also possible to use the ironing method to shrink just a portion of the garment, such as the sleeves. Simply dampen or iron the rest of the clothing, but only the sleeves, in this case!

3. In the Dryer

How to shrink a shirt in the dryer

One of the most efficient ways to shrink clothing is with the hot air and friction provided by a dryer. Have you ever noticed that after washing your jeans, the waistband gets more tighter? Due to the fact that denim naturally shrinks in the dryer, this is the reason.

Drying most fabrics will cause some shrinkage. Here are some pointers for drying different types of shirts with the dryer:

  • If the cloth is 100% cotton, avoid washing or dampening it. Turn on the dryer and run the clothing through the cycle. Pure cotton should shrink on its own as a result of the heat and friction generated during a typical tumble dry.
  • Before putting the clothing in the dryer, use a hot wash cycle on cotton blends like polycotton. After that, use a high-heat dryer and let it run its course, culminating with a cool-down cycle to gently cool the fibers.
  • Although shrinking wool is a dangerous endeavor, a spray bottle can be used to moisten a wool shirt just enough to achieve the desired result. Dry the wool for a short time on a low setting. High heat is not recommended.
  • Your washing machine should be set to the longest and hottest cycle for polyester. Soak the polyester shirt in hot water for a few minutes, then swiftly move it to a dryer. To ensure that the polyester receives the maximum amount of heat, set your dryer’s temperature to the highest possible level.

4. Without Dryer/Sunlight

If you’re looking for a gentler method of shrinking your garment, you may want to consider exposure to the sun. It’s possible that your shirt is just a smidge too big, so if this method doesn’t work, you may want to give it a shot!

  1. To get started with the sunlight approach, you can either wash your shirt in hot water or simply soak the item with warm water in a spray bottle. Hot water in your washing machine will cause more shrinkage than a spray bottle.
  2. To avoid fading, be sure to flip your shirt inside out before washing it.
  3. Set up a drying rack in a place that gets a lot of sunlight for several hours to finish drying your garments.
  4. Make sure your item is flat on the drying rack so that it doesn’t sag. You don’t want to stretch out your clothing by hanging it up!
  5. Wait until the shirt is no longer damp before putting it in the sun to dry.

5. Boiling Water

If you want to shrink your clothing in the most dramatic way possible, you can use boiling water. Clothing made of polyester will shrink by a size or two with this technique, whereas cotton garments may shrink by a size or three.

The amount a garment will shrink in boiling water cannot be predicted in advance, though. You may expect the garment to shrink by one to three sizes on average, but some fabrics are more sensitive than others.

As a result, you should only use this method on preshrunk cotton, polyester, or a shirt that you intend to toss if you are unable to shrink it further using other methods.

  1. This procedure necessitates a large quantity of water and numerous containers large enough to accommodate your clothing. Put a few litres of water on the burner to a rolling boil. A large bowl or the kitchen sink plug will be necessary as well.
  2. Fill a big basin or the sink halfway with boiling water. Using a long spoon, submerge the shirt in the hot water immediately so that you don’t burn your hands while doing so.
  3. The shirt should be left off until the water feels cold enough. A couple of hours is possible.
  4. The shirt should be gently pressed out of the water, but avoid wringing or stretching it.
  5. The washing machine procedure can be used at this point, depending on how much you wish to minimize the size. Alternately, you can use the dryer or even an iron to drastically reduce the size.

How to Shrink a Shirt One Size

To accurately shrink a garment, employ measuring and an incremental process when shrinking a shirt by one size. There are numerous methods for doing this.

Sizing a shirt is, to put it mildly, a dangerous proposition that leaves little room for error. A shirt the size of a kid could be made by submerging fabric in boiling water.

The process can typically be narrowed down with a bit additional effort, however.

  • Before you begin, be sure to accurately measure your shirt. The chest width, the length of the sleeves, and the length of the shirt from the back of the neck to the hem should all be recorded. This allows you to monitor the shirt’s shrinkage over time by taking measurements at key stages of the procedure.
  • Check the garment numerous times during the procedure using a timer. When drying a shirt, for example, take a measurement of the shirt every ten minutes to observe how much it has shrunk.
  • Use mild methods of shrinking if at all possible. You can either air dry your garment or put it in the washing machine. Ironing and using boiling water, on the other hand, can shrink clothing by up to a size.

How to Make a Shirt Shrink Fast

The quickest way to shrink a shirt quickly is to iron it or put it in hot water. These methods give the most intense temperature shift that will most radically alter the structure of your shirt.

These procedures, of course, pose the greatest risk. When you put your garment in a pot of boiling water, it can easily overshrink. By ironing or accidentally shrinking the clothing on one side, you might also easily excessively shrink.

In order to get a smaller shirt quickly, you can use these strategies!

How to Shrink a Shirt With Print or Graphics

How to Shrink Shirt With Print

The dryer approach, with a few tweaks, works best for shrinking printed or graphic-printed shirts. In other words, if you don’t take certain measures when shrinking a printed graphic t-shirt, you risk scrunching or shriveling the print.

  • Before you begin printing on any printed shirt, be careful to turn it inside out. This will protect the graphic from fading or rubbing.
  • If you’re washing a cotton shirt, it’s best to wash it in cold water and then dry it in the dryer. This should help shrink the cotton without destroying the design..
  • Boiling water is the only procedure that works for polyester clothing. In the worst case scenario, the printed design could be distorted or damaged. There is no guarantee that the design will be preserved if the shirt is turned inside out.

How to Shrink 100% Cotton Shirt

Using your washing machine, dryer, iron, or even direct sunshine, you can simply shrink 100% cotton shirts! As a result of its particular molecular structure, cotton shrinks more readily than any other fabric.

Cotton clothing that has been prewashed or preshrunk is the lone exception to this guideline. As a result, the cotton has already been pushed back into its pre-spun molecular form by the manufacturer. Because of the hydrogen bonds in the fibers of the cotton, shrinking the clothes will not cause them to relax.

Is preshrunk cotton able to be shrunk? Using the ironing or boiling water methods, you may be able to shrink these items just a smidge. This type of cotton can’t be washed or dried in a washing machine or dryer.

Do Different Fabrics Shrink in Different Ways?

Due to the distinct molecular and chemical structures that make up each fabric, shrinkage is unique to each fabric. It is because of this that cotton fibers, unlike wool and polyester, will shrink and expand differently when washed.


Because of its loose, natural fibers, linen is prone to shrinkage. When it comes to linen and silk, you can shrink them by soaking them in warm water and then drying them on low heat for several hours. Extreme heat should never be applied to such sensitive fabrics.

It’s possible that the linen will be severely damaged as a result of this procedure. If you want to get rid of the wrinkles, don’t use a steam iron. Instead, wait until the linen has cooled down from the dryer before ironing it on a low setting.


Wool, on the other hand, has a tendency to shrink far more than you intend. Wool apparel is frequently the victim of the laundry horror stories you’ve heard about shrinking to Barbie size in the dryer. To avoid this, adopt a gradual technique when working with wool garments. ‘

Set a timer to remind you to check on the wool clothing on a regular basis, regardless of the method you choose. If you use a dryer or iron, you may want to adjust the temperature settings.


Polyester can be shrunk in most circumstances by subjecting it to high heat. Despite the fact that this will shrink your clothes, the polyester may be damaged. Polyester’s plastic fibers can melt, burn, or skew when heated.

As a result, shrinking polyester requires heat, yet heat can also damage this synthetic fabric. When it’s impossible to wear the garment because it’s too big, you’ll be fine if your shrinking method damages it.

The washing machine and dryer procedures can also be used repeatedly, rather of utilizing an aggressive method like boiling water. Your polyester clothing may shrink over time if you wash and dry it frequently.


Nylon is a synthetic fabric similar to polyester in that it shrinks very little, if at all. The label on the inside of your nylon clothing should tell you whether or not it contains any other fibers, such as a small percentage of cotton fibers. If this is the case, drying the clothing will likely result in it shrinking significantly.

Instead of trying to shrink a nylon clothing, you may want to look into tailoring choices.

How to Shrink a Dri Fit Shirt

How to Shrink a Dri Fit Shirt

Any procedure that works on polyester, such as boiling water, can shrink a Dri Fit shirt. Nike’s brand name for a polyester and cotton blend fabric is Dri Fit. As a result of its excellent moisture-wicking properties, it is an excellent choice for active wear.

As a result, while Dri Fit can be shrunk, it can also be damaged. Instead of attempting to shrink a Dri Fit garment, the general consensus is that you should buy a larger size in the first place.

How to Shrink Shirt Sleeves

To only shrink the sleeves of a shirt, use an iron or a hairdryer to deliver heat precisely where you want them to shrink. There are many times when I buy long-sleeved t-shirts that fit my chest perfectly and have sleeves that extend past my wrists. Try the following strategy:

  1. Use hot water in your washing machine to clean the clothing. The garment should be laid out on a clean bath towel or ironing board when the cycle is complete. A warm water spray bottle can also be used to wet the sleeves if your shirt is made of delicate fabrics like silk, wool, or polyester.
  2. In order to get the best results, you’ll want to choose an iron that is compatible with the fabric of your shirt. Use the cotton setting for a cotton shirt. The synthetic or sensitive setting should be used for polyester. You can also use a hairdryer to get the job done!
  3. The sleeves should be ironed slowly and gradually. If you’re using a hairdryer, be sure you don’t let the hot air sit in one place for too long.
  4. Apply heat to the sleeves until they are completely dry before removing them.

Best Way to Shrink a Shirt

Your dryer’s hot water setting should be turned on and the garment should be placed in the dryer for a complete cycle to finish the heat-based shrinking. Because of the heat, moisture, and friction involved in a typical laundry procedure, this method will not harm most clothing but will cause many shirts to shrink by nearly a full size. Some fabrics, however, necessitate special care. The normal washing of polyester does not cause it to shrink.

You’ll need to use boiling water or ironing procedures to get polyester to a high enough temperature. Wool, silk, and linen are all examples of fragile textiles that should not be exposed to high heat. These fabrics can be successfully shrunk by using warm water and a gentle heat source for drying.

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