I’m the oldest of 14 kids and, needless to say, I know how to do laundry!

Unfortunately, my husband, an only child, does not.

One day, I bought the most adorable pair of “comfy” pants I had ever seen. After I washed them, I left. While I can’t be mad (it’s the thought that counts!) my husband put my new pants into the dryer without a second thought. When I went to finish the laundry, I saw my pants inside. Call it laundry intuition if you will, but I knew my comfy pants were comfy no more. I tried them on in disbelief, but, alas, they were five inches too short. If I couldn’t save these pants, there was only one person that could: My mom. I called her to see what I could do to salvage them, and lucky for me, she pulled through.

How to un-shrink clothes

Gather these supplies:

  • Lukewarm water
  • 1 cap full of baby shampoo or conditioner
  • 1 towel
  • 2 clothes pins
  • 1 clothes hanger


  • Fill the sink with the lukewarm water and place clothes inside
  • Add 1 capful of shampoo/conditioner
  • Let the clothing soak up the water mixture
  • While the clothing is soaking, lay out one beach towel on a flat surface
  • Pick up the garment and carefully squeeze the water out (don’t rinse)
  • Lay it out flat on the towel
  • Starting from the bottom, roll the towel and garment up like a burrito
  • Let the towel soak up the moisture for about 10 minutes (it should be damp, not wet)
  • Unroll your clothing from the first towel
  • Add your clothes pins in the direction you want the clothing to stretch (I was stretching pants, so I put the clothes pins on the bottom of the legs)
  • Attach the item with the clothes pins to a hanger and air dry (I hung my pants upside down)

After your clothes dry, you can wear them like you normally would! Just be sure that the next time, you don’t dry them in the dryer!

I know this might sound like a lot of work, but believe me, if you’ve thrown out half as many clothes as my family has due to shrinking, it’s worth it! I know the money that I save from not replacing clothes is almost enough to pay for laundry lessons for my husband…almost.

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6 thoughts on “How to Un-Shrink Clothes”

  1. Debbie says:

    Does this work on dry clean only items accidentally washed in washer such as wool sweater or rayon?

    • august says:

      It definitely can’t hurt to try. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t work and you’re right where you started. I’d just be a lot more gentle and maybe even let it soak longer to make sure it gets in there really good.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree (I work for a dry cleaner)- give it a try, and if it doesn’t work you can always take it to your dry cleaner and ask them to block it out. Mine does it for free (as in, no extra cost when you get it cleaned), and I suspect most others do as well. :)

  2. laurie says:

    Hi All….I own a Dry Cleaning company and want to share with you today. We can stretch items using steam and the vacuum in our machines. I will normally do it free if my customers need help. Especially helpful for waist or jeans legs!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My Dear husband, also with good intentions, shrunk all 10 of my new 100% cotton t-shirts (that I got on clearance for $1.00 each….lol).
    All I did was run them through the washer again with extra softener and placed them on a hanger and gently pulled them back into shape. I held the shoulders and neck while gently pulling on the bottom hem. It was the first thing that I thought to sdo, and by golly! It worked.

  4. Melinda says:

    I will be trying this! I too had someone, with good intentions, try to help me with laundry. She tried to help but shrunk all my husband’s shirts! I’m trying this this week! Thanks :-)