Five Home Remedies to Unshrink Clothes

13 September, 2020
To avoid shrinking your clothes, it's important that you check the labels on your clothes to see how you should wash them according to their fabric. Also, you can try some new tricks!

Did you just accidentally shrink your clothes? It’s easy to damage knits if you don’t wash them properly. As a consequence, they might come out shrunken or misshapen. So, the question arises… Is it possible to unshrink clothes?

First of all, it’s important to check the washing instructions that come on the labels, since many times most people ignore them. Not taking into account the care that is suggested to keep it in good condition is what leads to its rapid deterioration.

If you’ve ever shrunk your clothes, you’ve probably tried to find a solution to get them back to their normal size. While there are many tricks that supposedly do just that, it’s technically impossible to “unshrink” your clothing. The most they can do is relax the fibers a little bit so that you can stretch them back out again. There are quite a few methods you can try at home, so today we’ll share with you some of the most popular.

What can you do to unshrink clothes?

As mentioned above, there’s no miracle solution to unshrink clothing and regain its original size. Despite this, anecdotal data suggest that some products help stretch fibers and fabrics. Below we’ll tell you how to use them.

1. Hair conditioner

Did your wool garments change from their original size? Notice that they shrunk? Then try this trick with a hair conditioner. This remedy treats clothes in a similar way than normal fabric softener, but can also help get your clothes back to their original size.

Some sweaters in a bin.
No product can magically unshrink clothes; however, there are a few tricks, like conditioner, that seem to help it regain its size a bit.

Ingredients

  • ¼ c. of hair conditioner
  • ¼ c. of white vinegar
  • Warm water (as much as you need)

Instructions

  • Firstly, pour the hair conditioner into a bucket of warm water
  • Soak the piece of clothing in it for 20 minutes
  • After this, stretch the item of clothing out with your hands until it recovers its original size
  • Let it dry without wringing it out and wait until it dries completely
  • Finally, if the garment is a sweater, we recommend adding white vinegar to the mixture for better results

Also read: Use Aspirin to Whiten Clothes and Remove Stains

2. Fabric softener

Applying fabric softener is one of the recommended ways to care for garments that tend to shrink. Not only does it allow fabrics to remain soft, but it relaxes the fibers so that the garment doesn’t lose its normal size.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. of fabric softener
  • 4 c. of water

Instructions

  • Pour the fabric softener in the warm water
  • Then, soak the shrunken item of clothing in this mixture
  • Leave it to soak for 24 hours and then rinse it
  • Finally, leave the piece of clothing in the sun without wringing it out and wait for it to dry to see if it has returned to its original size

3. Baking soda and vinegar

When making a mixture of baking soda and vinegar you have to be careful with the reaction that’s generated. In this case, you’ll use both ingredients separately, so there’s no problem. People say that they act as a natural fabric softener and can protect clothes and make sure they stay the same size. 

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. of baking soda
  • 8 c. of hot water
  • 1 c. of white vinegar

Instructions

  • Pour the baking soda in a liter of hot water and let it dissolve
  • Dip the piece of clothing you want to unshrink in the mixture
  • Stretch the garment out gently and let it soak for an hour
  • After this, combine the white vinegar with the other liter of water and use it as a rinse

4. Baby shampoo

Baby shampoo is a good alternative for pants and clothes with thicker fabrics. We recommend combining it with a little bit of hair conditioner in order to get better results.

A person washing clothes in a bucket.

Ingredients

  • ¼ c. of baby shampoo
  • 3 tbsp. of hair conditioner
  • Hot water (as much as you need)

Instructions

  • Firstly, fill a quarter of a bucket with warm water
  • Secondly, add the baby shampoo and natural conditioner to it
  • Soak the clothing for 12 hours and then carefully stretch them out
  • If you’re not sure about what size they should be, grab a pair of pants that fit you and use them as a comparison
  • Then, squeeze out the excess liquid from the piece of clothing and then let it dry
  • Finally, if your pants are too stiff, use an iron on the steam setting to soften them

5. White vinegar and hair cream are great to unshrink clothes

White vinegar is a classic popular alternative to chemical fabric softener. Furthermore, it cleans stains, removes dirt, and leaves a cool sensation. To unshrink some types of clothes, you can combine white vinegar with a bit of hair cream.

Ingredients

  • ½ c. of white vinegar
  • ¼ c. of hair cream
  • Hot water (as much as you need)

Instructions

  • Firstly, dissolve the two ingredients in a bucket of hot water
  • Secondly, soak the garments
  • Wait half an hour for the products to take effect
  • Then, after this, stretch the items of clothing out little by little with your hands
  • Finally, leave them to soak again for an hour and wash them like you normally would

Can you unshrink clothes and get them back to their original size?

No. It’s not possible to restore the original size of the shrunk garments. However, what you can do is read the washing instruction labels to treat them properly during the wash and avoid this problem. Also, by applying these tricks you can relax the fibers to stretch the fabrics a bit when the damage is done.

However, keep in mind that the effectiveness of these tricks can vary depending on the type of garment and fabric. Fabrics sometimes shrink too much and can’t be restored to their original size at all.

  • Dragani R. How To: Unshrink Clothes. (n.d.) Bob Vila – Home Improvement.
    Available in https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-unshrink-clothes/
  • Laundry hack: How to un-shrink clothes using baby shampoo. (n.d.). HerFamily.ie. Available in https://www.herfamily.ie/parenthood/the-genius-way-to-unshrink-clothes-using-baby-shampoo-219080
  • Honey, I Shrunk The Clothes! – A guide to unshrink anything. (2017). Washlava. Available in https://washlava.com/how-to_unshrink_clothes/