How to Unshrink Cotton Clothes

Even against a person's best efforts cotton clothing, such as T-shirts and pants, 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 fibers during construction. Once the cotton piece is washed, these fibers relax and will shrink. It is possible to stretch or “unshrink” a cotton item to bring it back to its original shape and form.

Things You'll Need

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

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Step 1

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

Step 2

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

Step 3

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

Step 4

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

Step 5

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

Step 6

Allow the garment to dry. Periodically return to the cotton piece, remove the pins and re-stretch the piece, and replace the thumb tacks until thoroughly dry.


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