How to Make a Sweater Shrink

Whether you purchased a sweater that is too large for you or your sweater stretched out of shape with wear, shrinking a sweater is a simple process. By using a combination of three different treatments, you can reduce the size of the sweater fibres. Proceed carefully to ensure that you do not shrink the sweater more than you desire, because you cannot reverse the shrinking process.

Fill a sink or small dishpan with warm water. Add a small amount of gentle laundry soap to the water and agitate the water gently with your hands to make bubbles.

Place the sweater in the water and agitate it with your hands in the water for several minutes. The combination of warm water, the washing powder and moving the sweater around in the water should help shrink the fibres.

Allow the sweater to soak for about five to 10 minutes in the water and then rinse it completely with warm water.

Remove the sweater from the water and squeeze as much water as possible with your hands.

Spread the towel out on a flat surface. Place the sweater onto the towel. Arrange the sweater in roughly the size you desire and allow it to dry completely.

Check the sweater after it dries to see if it shrunk enough. Rewash the sweater a second time if you want it to shrink more.

Fill the sink or dishpan with slightly warmer water. Add soap again and swish the water around to make bubbles. Add the sweater to the water again and repeat the same agitating and soaking process in the warmer water.

Rinse the sweater completely with warm water.

Dry the sweater in the dryer for a short time to shrink the fibres more, if necessary. Set the dryer heat to medium and dry the sweater for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the sweater and check the amount of shrinkage.

Lay the sweater to dry flat on a towel if the sweater is the size you desire. Return the sweater to the dryer to finish drying it if you want it smaller.


Examine the care tag of the sweater to learn the fibres the sweater contains. Wool and cashmere fibres shrink readily, while man-made acrylic fibres may not shrink as easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Gentle laundry soap
  • Towel
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About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.