How to Fix a Shrunken Shirt

One of the more unpleasant experiences in life is folding clothes, hot from the dryer, only to discover a beloved shirt now too shrunken and warped to wear. A given piece of fabric consists of threads woven together. Each thread consists of elongated fibers. Each fiber consists of molecules. Some fibers, such as wool or cotton, bunch in the hot water of the washing machine, causing shrinkage. Luckily, you can usually restore a favorite shirt back to its former glory.

A shrunken shirt can be hard to put on, if you can put it on at all.
  1. Fill a basin, or sink with warm water and immerse your shirt in the water. Allow it to soak for 15 minutes.
  2. Wring the water out of the garment. As you wring out the water, gently stretch the fabric to elongate the fibers.
  3. Lay a towel on a flat surface. Place your shirt flat on the towel. Press another towel on top of your shirt and use it to pat down the shirt. Your goal is to absorb the extra moisture, so your shirt is damp but not wet.
  4. Remove the top towel and hold the top of your shirt with one hand. With your other hand, gently pull the bottom of the shirt. Place your hand on the bottom of the shirt and use your other hand to pull the top. Pull until your short slowly approaches its original length. Hold the shirt from the left side, repeating this procedure by tugging on the ride side. Repeat this method until your shirt starts to look normal again.
  5. Allow the shirt to air dry on the towel.

Things You Will Need

  • Basin, or sink
  • 2 towels


  • If your shirt has only shrunken only slightly, simply place it on a hanger after step two. The weight of the water dripping off the shirt will help stretch it to its former size.

About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."

Photo Credits

  • Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images