How to Shrink a Shirt

by Celeigh O'Neil ; Updated September 28, 2017

Shrink clothing on the stove instead of in the washing machine for full temperature control.

Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images

A hasty trip to the mall will often leave you with a few items in the return pile -- think the odd oversized shirt. While it may not flatter you or mesh with your current wardrobe, you don't have to double back to the store right away. Cotton and polyester shirts will shrink with the help of some hot water or an extra tumble in the dryer. Head to the laundry room or kitchen to get your favorite shirt back into rotation.

Using a Washing Machine

Place the shirt in the washing machine and wash it on the hottest cycle.The heat will encourage fabrics including cotton, polyester and wool to shrink.

Remove the shirt from the washer and place it in the dryer. Run the hottest cycle until the shirt is dry.The agitation and heat from the dryer will further shrink the shirt.

Remove the shirt from the dryer and shake it out. Repeat the process if it has not shrunk to the desired size.

Using Boiling Water

Fill a large pot three-quarters from the top with boiling water. Place it on a stove burner set to high heat. Allow the water to boil.

Place the shirt into the pot and submerge it completely in water. Turn off the heat.

Place a lid on the pot, and allow the shirt to sit in the hot water for 5 minutes. For an extra-large shirt, allow 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the water from the pot down the drain. Pull on a pair of rubber gloves and wring the shirt out.

Gently shake the shirt over the sink to remove large wrinkles. Hang the shirt on a hanger and allow it to air-dry.

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Photo Credits

  • Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images

About the Author

Celeigh O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. She has a Bachelor of fine arts from the University of Ottawa, as well as degrees in fashion illustration/design, digital arts and certification in hair and makeup artistry. O'Neil was a frequent contributor to Toronto's "Dialog" newspaper and has worked as an instructional writer, creating lessons in fashion, art and English for students of all ages.