How to Stretch Wool After Shrinking It

by Jaimie Zinski

Although soft, durable and odor-resistant, your wool sweater has one downfall -- it will shrink if exposed to hot water. Some wool sweaters are treated with a shrink-resistant chemical, but this won't guarantee that your sweater will retain its shape and size if it's accidentally tossed into the washer on the hot cycle. Restore a wool sweater to its original shape and size by relaxing the fibers and gently stretching the garment -- without causing further damage.

Fill a sink, bathtub or large plastic basin with 3 gallons of cool water. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of baby shampoo. Stir the water with your hand to incorporate the soap.

Submerge the wool sweater in the soapy water.

Soak the wool sweater for 20 to 30 minutes. After the time has passed, pull out the sweater and hold it over the basin or sink to allow the excess water to drain out. Don't rinse the wool sweater or wring out the excess water.

Spread a towel flat on the floor and lay the wet sweater on top. Lay another towel on top of the sweater and gently press down to remove the excess water. Continue until the sweater isn't dripping wet, but still very damp.

Lay the damp sweater flat on a dry towel. Gently tug and pull on the sweater to restore its size and shape. Pull on the arms, torso and sides, and gently pull out the neck. Continue until the wool is the desired size and shape. Be aware, however, that after severe damage, the sweater might not fully regain its former size.

Leave the damp sweater in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or a direct heat source for a few hours. Flip the sweater over and allow the other side to dry fully. Once the sweater is completely dry, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct heat or sunlight.

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Items you will need

  • Large plastic basin
  • 3 gallons cool water
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons baby shampoo
  • Towels


  • Tug and pull on the sweater gently. If you begin damaging the wool or tearing out the seams, you're pulling too hard.

About the Author

Residing in Chippewa Falls, Wis., Jaimie Zinski has been writing since 2009. Specializing in pop culture, film and television, her work appears on Star Reviews and various other websites. Zinski is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in history at the University of Wisconsin.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images