Can You Stretch Clothes That Have Shrunk
It can be disheartening to wash your favorite clothing item only to find it now too tight and shrunken when you take it out of the dryer. However, all hope is not lost and you may not even have to buy a larger size. There are a few methods you can use to stretch clothes that have shrunk and potentially save your beloved garment.
1. Fill a Bowl with Boiling Water
On a heatproof surface, fill a bowl with boiling water. Place the clothing item into the hot water and let it sit for 15–20 minutes. Pull gently on the areas that have shrunk to help the fibers stretch and relax. Once you have stretched the garment, rinse it in cold water and lay it out to dry.
2. Stretch out the Garment While Wet
If you can’t fit the item into a bowl, lay it out on a flat, heatproof surface and carefully stretch it out with your hands until it reclaims its original shape. Make sure to evenly stretch the garment across. Leave the garment on the surface and let it sit until it dries. If you find it still too tight when it is dry, repeat this process until it reaches your desired fit.
3. Soak the Item with Laundry Conditioner
Mix a few drops of hot water and laundry conditioner in a tub or large bowl. Place the clothing item into the soapy water and let it soak for 15–20 minutes. Once finished, rinse it off in cold water and stretch out the garment. This conditioner should leave the clothing fibers more flexible and able to stretch.
4. Use a Steamer or Iron
Hang the garment up on a hanger and steam or iron the areas that have shrunk. Make sure to constantly move the steamer or iron back and forth until the warm air relaxes the fibers and stretches out the shrunken area.
5. Use a Hair Dryer
If the garment is too delicate for a steamer or iron, use a hair dryer on the areas that have shrunk. Make sure to keep the dryer constantly moving in an up and down motion and heat each area for up to 20 seconds at a time. Pull gently on the fabric after each Session.
Every material is different and some may not respond to the above-mentioned methods. However, some gentle pulling and prodding, coupled with the right temperatures, can potentially help to extend the life of your garment and save you time and money.
Tips on Avoiding Shrinkage:
- Wash clothes according to label instructions
- Keep the water temperature in your washing machine cooler to help prevent shrinkage
- Set the dryer to low or cool temperatures and remove the garment immediately to prevent further shrinking
- Air dry bulky items such as sweaters, hats and blankets