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If you have oversized clothes, you can easily shrink them at home without a dryer! A long cycle in the washing machine with hot water is an easy way to tighten the fibers. Alternatively, you can soak the garment in a pot of boiling water until it has shrunk down to size. Ironing damp clothes can also help them to shrink a little. Take any vintage, very expensive, or delicate clothing to a clothing alteration professional instead to avoid any irreversible damage.
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Shrinking Clothes in a Washing Machine Download Article
- 1Put the garment into the washing machine alone. Open the washing machine door, place the garment inside, and then shut the door firmly. Always wash only the garment that you want to shrink, as otherwise, the other items might shrink too! This also stops the color of bright or vivid garments from bleeding into other clothing.XResearch source
- You can shrink multiple items together if they are all a similar color and the same type of fabric.
- Cotton, denim, polyester, and wool can all shrink well in the washing machine.
- 2Adjust the temperature setting on the machine to hot. Turn on the washing machine and switch the temperature to the highest setting available. This means that the machine will use very hot water to wash the garment, which gives it the best possible chance of shrinking.XResearch source
- Clothing fibers are stretched during manufacturing due to stress. Hot water releases the stress and the fibers spring down to a smaller size.XResearch source
- 3Set the time setting to the maximum and start the cycle. To properly shrink a garment just using a washing machine, the water needs to be very hot and the garment needs to be in there for as long as possible. Pick the longest cycle length and then press the start button once the settings are correct.XResearch source
- You don’t need to add any laundry detergent to the machine unless you want to wash the garment at the same time. It will shrink regardless.
- 4Line-dry the garment once the washing cycle is complete. Remove the garment from the washing machine. Hang it up on a clothesline or lay it out on a clotheshorse and let it dry fully before wearing it.XResearch source
- If the garment hasn’t shrunk enough, you can always wash it in hot water again to try and shrink it further.
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Using Boiling Water Download Article
- 1Heat a pot of water to boiling. Add water to a large cooking pot and place it on the stovetop over a high temperature. Wait for the water to begin boiling and then turn the stovetop off immediately once it does. Alternatively, you can also boil water in a kettle and then transfer it into the pot if you prefer.XResearch source
- If you have any concerns about if the pot is large enough, place the garment inside to check it first before you add the water.
- 2Place the garment into the boiling water. Carefully drop the garment into the pot of boiling water. You may need to use a cooking utensil like a wooden spoon to push the garment into the water so you don't burn your hands. Make sure that the whole garment is fully submerged.XResearch source
- You could use cooking tongs to place the garment into the water.
- 3Soak the garment for up 30 minutes to shrink it. You don’t need to agitate the water or turn the stovetop back on as the garment will shrink by itself. Use cooking tongs to remove the garment once the time is up and place it in a laundry bucket to prevent water from dripping everywhere.XResearch source
- The amount of time that you need to leave the garment in the boiling water for depends on how much you want it to shrink and the type of fabric.XResearch source
- Silk tends to shrink very fast, so simply immerse the silk in the boiling water and then remove it again to shrink it.
- Cotton also tends to shrink relatively fast. It usually takes 5-10 minutes.
- Polyester and denim garments take the longest to shrink, so it’s likely that you will need to soak them for 20-30 minutes.
- 4Let the garment air-dry. Use clothespins to hang the garment up on a clothesline or lay the item out on a clotheshorse. The garment will probably take longer to dry than usual because of the excess water. If the garment is made of wool, lay it flat to dry to prevent the fibers from stretching back out.XResearch source
- Avoid wringing out the garment, as this can cause the fabric fibers to stretch.
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Ironing Damp Clothing Download Article
- 1Fill a spray bottle with warm water. The warm water is for dampening the garment, helping it to shrink more readily when it’s ironed. Get a clean spray bottle and hold it under warm, running water. Then screw the spray cap back on when the bottle is full and gently tip it upside down to make sure that it doesn’t leak.XResearch source
- If your garment is already damp, you won’t need the spray bottle or to mist it with water.
- 2Use the spray bottle to lightly dampen the garment. Lay the part of the garment that you want to begin with flat on the ironing board. Lightly mist the fabric until it feels damp to touch. The fabric doesn’t need to be saturated.XResearch source
- Shrinking garments by ironing is great if you want to shrink just one part, such as a collar or a sleeve.
- Iron shrinking is ideal for cotton, wool, and denim.
- Don’t attempt to shrink polyester garments using an iron, as the colors will fade and it’s easy to cause irreversible damage. Use the boiling water or washing machine method instead.XResearch source
- 3Set the iron temperature to the appropriate setting. Turn the iron on and look at the different temperature settings available. Pick the one that matches the type of fabric you're working with. Wool garments need a low temperature setting while cotton and denim require higher heats.XResearch source
- If you are unsure about what temperature to use, read the care instructions on the garment label.
- 4Iron the garment until it feels dry. Run the iron slowly and carefully over the fabric. Avoid letting the iron rest in one place for too long on the fabric, as this could cause it to burn. Feel the fabric as you iron to check when it no longer feels damp. You should be able to tell that the fabric has shrunk!XResearch source
- If the fabric dries before you get a chance to iron it, simply mist it again with the warm water.
- If you have any concerns about the iron damaging the garment, put a cotton cloth over the garment first and then iron over the cloth.XResearch source