Cotton clothes may shrink over time or when washed in hot or cold water. Cotton shrinkage is not a reason to throw out your favorite t-shirt or sweater, because you can easily fix the problem at home. Reversing the shrinkage by gently blocking and stretching the fabric will make your cotton clothes look like new again. However, make it a habit to read fabric care labels before washing clothes to avoid accidents in the first place.
Pour 1 or 2 tablespoon of baby shampoo or hair conditioner into about a quart of warm water. These personal care products help relax the fibers of the cotton. Cotton has loose weaves that can be manipulated easily.
Soak the shrunken clothing in this solution for about 15 minutes and remove.
Place the clothing onto a towel. Roll up the towel. This will help remove excess water.
Remove from towel and stretch the clothing to its original size.
Place the clothing onto something stiff, such as cork board or cardboard. Use pins, clips, clothespins or anything similar to pin down the clothing in its stretched size.
Remove once it's completely dry. You may need to stretch it out and pin it up again while it's drying if you notice that the item shrinks while still wet. It should return to its original size once dry.
If you can't reverse the shrinkage at home, ask the dry cleaner to gently stretch the garment during steaming.
To prevent your cotton clothes from shrinking, machine- or hand-wash them in cold water; and then take the items out of the dryer, while they are still slightly damp, to air dry completely on wooden or padded hangers.