How to Unshrink Cotton Clothes

Written by jaimie zinski
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Even against a person's best efforts cotton clothing, such as T-shirts and trousers, can shrink. According to Cotton Incorporated (see reference 3), cotton will shrink after the first wash because a large amount of tension is applied to the fibres during construction. Once the cotton piece is washed, these fibres relax and will shrink. It is possible to stretch or "unshrink" a cotton item to bring it back to its original shape and form.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 1 tsp regular hair conditioner
  • Plastic bucket
  • 1 quart water
  • Towel
  • Cork board
  • Drawing pins (enough to tack garment to cork board)

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  1. 1

    Fill the plastic bucket with one quart of water. Pour one tbsp regular hair conditioner into the plastic bucket.

  2. 2

    Place the cotton garment into the bucket, making sure that it is completely immersed.

  3. 3

    Allow the piece to soak for 15 minutes. This will help relax the fibres once again, which will make them susceptible to stretching or "unshrinking".

  4. 4

    Remove the piece and wrap it into a towel. Roll the towel to wring out the excess water from the cotton garment.

  5. 5

    Stretch the item out to a desired size and secure it to a piece of cork board with drawing pins.

  6. 6

    Allow the garment to dry. Periodically return to the cotton piece, remove the pins and restretch the piece, and replace the drawing pins until thoroughly dry.

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