How to Unshrink a Shirt

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My family has never had very much luck with laundry. We had a washer malfunction that leave gross brown stains on clothes.  And we had the perpetual problem of shrinking things.  It didn’t stop when I moved in with Kevin after we got married.  I would dry clothes on the lowest heat setting and they would still come out looking like doll clothing.  And being the short 5’3″ (okay, 5’2″…) woman that I am, short shirts leave me looking like an Oompa Loompa.  So I said enough with the Oompa Loompa clothes and found a solution: a way to unshrink your shirts.  There’s some varied tutorials, but you can find a few other options here and here.  Unshrinking a shirt is super duper easy and odds are good that you already have what you need to go from this……

Unshrink Your Clothes With This Simple Hack | Make Shrunken Clothes Like New Again | Use Conditioner or Baby Shampoo to Take Clothes From Tiny to Regular Sized | Destination Decoration

….to this!


What You Need to Unshrink a Shirt

  • Water
  • Hair conditioner or baby shampoo
  • Towels
  • Shrunken shirt (knits and cotton fabrics will unshrink the most)
    • Mine measured 19.5″ from neck to the bottom hem before stretching

(Yep, you only need four things!)


How to Unshrink a Shirt

Fill a sink, bucket, or bathtub with lukewarm water.

Add the conditioner.  I used our kitchen sink filled about 3/4 of the way full and added about 3 tablespoons of conditioner.

Mix the conditioner to incorporate it into the water.  The water should become slightly bubbly.  If there are a few clumps remaining, that’s okay.

Lay your shirt flat on the surface of the water.  Press the shirt down to submerge it into the water.  If you have multiple shirts, you can layer them on top of each other.

Let the shirt(s) sit for at least 15 minutes.  The conditioner in the water will loosen the fibers of the shirt and this makes it easier to stretch back to its original size.

Take the shirt out of the water and wring out all the excess water.

Now, take your shirt and place it on top of a dry towel.  Place another towel on top of the shirt, roll up the towels, and press to wring out excess water.  At this point, your shirt should be damp, not wet.

Lay the shirt on a new dry towel and use your hands to stretch.  Hold a part of the shirt with one hand and stretch with the other.  Stretch until you have gotten the shirt to the size you’d like.

Optional step: If you’re concerned about your shirt returning to its original size while drying, weigh it down with heavy objects, such as books.  It shouldn’t shrink back too much, but it might be worth the little bit of extra effort.

Let the shirt dry on the towel or hang dry.

Important note: Now that your shirt is unshrunk, you must be careful when washing. For best results wash on cold with the lowest heat setting for drying.  

My shirt shown in the pictures started at 19.5″ from collar to bottom hem and stretched to 21.5″ from collar to hem.  2 inches, friends!  And I had other shirts that had shrunken even more, so they ended up stretching even more in the process.  Here’s to hoping that they don’t re-shrink in the wash!

Enjoy your non-Oompa Loompa shirt!

Or if you decide to stretch in bulk like I did, enjoy your new resized wardrobe!

Unshrink Your Clothes With This Simple Hack | Make Shrunken Clothes Like New Again | Use Conditioner or Baby Shampoo to Take Clothes From Tiny to Regular Sized | Destination Decoration

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4 Responses to “How to Unshrink a Shirt

  • Shelly
    1 year ago

    To prevent this kind of shrinkage in the first place, hang your tops to dry thoroughly on a clothes line or hanger, THEN put them in a low temp. dryer with a sheet of fabric softener to
    soften. I do this with all my outerwear clothing unless I actually WANT to shrink them.

    • I agree that hanging clothes is much more effective if you want to avoid shrinking. We live in a small townhome, though, so it’s not very feasible to hang our clothing (especially when doing more than one load). Plus, sometimes I’m not patient enough to wait for them to dry. 🙂 Every once in a while I’ll pull out one or two items that I don’t want to shrink and hang them. I do agree, though, that the best way to prevent clothes shrinking is to hang them.

  • Very helpful. Thanks! I actually put the shirt on to stretch it. Worked well. Thanks!

    • That’s a good idea, too! I never would have thought of putting the shirt on to stretch it. Glad it worked!