We all have that one perfect shirt in our closets that we absolutely love, but literally never get wear because it’s wayyy too big. You know the one—that band shirt that only had the largest size available, or the one with the perfect summer color you’ve been searching for but didn’t see in your size, or that perfect patterned shirt that was given to you as a gift by someone who hadn’t seen you in a while.
No matter how you obtained your oversized shirt, the point is you might not want to look like you’re drowning in fabric, but you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of it because you’re hoping that someday, somehow, it’ll shrink to your perfect size—once you can safely wear it outside, of course. Fortunately, we did some research so that you don’t have to! Here is a super simple step-by-step guide to shrinking (most) shirts to your desired size. Also, these methods can apply to shirts that have stretched out after wearing them, but there’s only so much washing that can help. When in doubt, give these steps a try, and if all else fails you can take it to a seamstress for professional help.
Step 1: Check the Label for Fabric Content
Certain types of fabric will shrink much faster than others. As most moms are quick to teach (or make us find out the hard way), a high percentage of cotton means the shirt will definitely shrink up to 20 percent its size.
Wool, linen, and silk can also shrink, but may take a bit more time and attempts. Synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester and spandex, on the other hand, won’t shrink as much, if at all. So, make sure you take into account how shrink-worthy the fabric of your shirt is before putting in the effort to shrink it.
Step 2: Boil a Pot of Water
This one is pretty straight forward. Take a large pot (big enough to fit your desired shirt) and heat up the water until it reaches a boil. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat. You can either transfer the water into a separate bowl or use the same pot that you already used.
Step 3: Place Shirt Directly into the Boiling Water
Be careful not to burn yourself during this step! Place your shirt directly into the bowl or pot that contains the hot water. Completely immerse the shirt in the water with a utensil or wooden spoon so you can get the maximum amount of shrinkage.
Step 4: Leave the Shirt in the Water for About 5 Minutes, Or Until Water is Cool
The amount of time you leave the shirt in hot water will determine how much it’ll shrink. When the water has become cold, take your shirt out of the pot or bowl and gently wring out all of the water.
Step 5: Repeat These Steps Until You Have Reached Your Preferred Size
If you have completed the first four steps and the shirt still isn’t as small as you want it to be, don’t fret! You can repeat these steps as many times as you want until the shirt is close to your desired size. Remember, depending on the fabric of the shirt, it might only shrink a small percentage of its size.
Optional Step: Wash and Tumble Dry on a High Heat Setting
For all of us who have accidentally shrunk clothes in the drier, this is a pretty quick and easy option for shrinking any clothing item you want, if it’s not already preshrunk that is.
- Wash the shirt on the highest heat setting. This has the same effect as the aforementioned steps.
- Place the shirt in a dryer and switch to a high heat setting to tumble dry. For more delicate fabrics, make sure you are using the delicate heat setting so not to ruin the item.
- Keep a close eye on it: Shrinking can happen fast! Feel free to check on it even before the cycle ends to see if it’s at your desired size. We’ve all had that “oops” moment after turning perfectly good clothing into something more fit for a Barbie doll.