How to Shrink Clothes in the Washing Machine

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Cotton is relatively easy to shrink.
Cotton is relatively easy to shrink. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you plan to shrink clothes in your washing machine and clothes dryer, you must select items that do not indicate they were prewashed or preshrunk on the label. If they were prewashed or preshrunk, you can wash them a hundred times and not see any shrinkage. One hundred percent cotton fabrics are the easiest to shrink. Polyester and other fabrics do shrink, but you might have to wash and dry them several times before you see any significant shrinkage. Be cautious of shrinking fabrics with a pattern on them. Shrinking can distort the pattern.

Things You'll Need

  • Clothes washer
  • Clothes dryer

Place the clothes into the washing machine. The amount of clothes does not matter. You can add a few pieces of clothing or load the washing machine to full capacity.

Set the washing machine to use hot water only and set it for the longest cycle. Usually the longest cycle is for heavily soiled clothes. If you aren't sure how to make these setting changes on your washing machine model, follow the directions in the owner’s manual. Run the full cycle and wash the clothes.

Place the clothes into the dryer and set it on full heat and for the longest drying cycle available. Again, follow the instructions in the owner’s manual, if necessary, to make the settings changes. Run the full cycle and dry the clothes.

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