How To Shrink Cotton Shirts

Learn about how to shrink cotton shirts and you will be able to expand your wardrobe. If you've lost weight or borrowed someone's shirt and your shirts are just too big, one way to remedy the problem is to shrink cotton shirts. Cotton is a natural fiber and that means it is changeable. Cotton shirts will shrink unlike polyester or blends of fabrics that are meant to stay the same size.

To shrink cotton shirts, you will need:

  • Cotton shirts
  • Hot water
  • Clothes washer
  • Hot clothes dryer
  1. Prepare the cotton shirts. Remove any price tags and anything else you don't want on the shirt before you shrink it.
  2. Soak the shirts. Start the washing machine using hot water. Add just a small amount of laundry detergent to the washer. Let the washing machine fill with hot water. Only add clothes that you want to shrink to the washer. Let the clothes sit in the hot water for five or ten minutes.
  3. Wash the shirts. Run the washer for a regular wash cycle. Use warm water for the rinse cycle if the washing machine has that option in the cycle. Cold water reduces shrinking so use the hottest water you can for both the wash and rinse cycles.
  4. Assess the shirt size. Look at the shirts after you take them out of the washer. If they have shrunk enough, do not follow the next step, which will shrink them even more. If the shirts are the right size, dry them by hanging them on hangers to dry or in a permanent press setting of the clothes dryer. Remove them from the dryer just before they are completely dry to avoid excess wrinkles. If the shirts need to be shrunk more, follow the next step.
  5. Dry the shirts. Drying cotton shirts in a hot clothes dryer will help shrink them even more. Set the clothes dryer to the hottest setting and add the shirts. Let the cotton shirts tumble dry. Check them after five minutes to see if they are the right size. If not, add them back to the clothes dryer and recheck them every five minutes until they are shrunk to your liking.
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