Did your kids play tug-of-war with your new cashmere sweater? Have you shed those extra pounds and now your wardrobe is too big and baggy? Sounds like it's time to shrink those items to right size. Here's how it's done:
Most manufacturers allow for 2-plus percent shrinkage tolerance, according to the column "Hints From Heloise" in the San Diego Union-Tribune. That sounds great, but what if you need to shrink your clothes even more than that? The best way to do it is to use heat, typically from your both your washer and your dryer. The hotter the settings, the more shrinkage results you'll get. But keep in mind that some fabrics shrink more than others under these conditions. You can expect successful shrinkage with cotton and wool, for example, but synthetics such as nylon and polyester may not shrink as easily, and pre-washed and older clothes could be resistant as well. As for silk, dry cleaning or hand washing is usually recommended, as heat from a dryer can dull the fabric's finish. With silk, you may want to consider a tailor instead of DIY shrinking; otherwise you're gambling with an expensive garment. And don't try these shrinking methods with leather or fur; the moisture and heat will destroy them!
You can also spot-shrink cuffs that have stretched out of shape. Real Simple suggests that you boil water, dampen the cuffs, re-shape them as desired, and then blow dry with a hair dryer on a high setting.
Next, we look at how to shrink clothes just the right amount.
Tips for Shrinking Your Clothes the Right Amount
So, you want to shrink your turtleneck, but not so much it becomes a wardrobe addition for your miniature Schnauzer. First step: Consider the fabric.
Cotton and wool will shrink pretty easily. The hotter your settings in the washer and dryer, the more shrinkage you can expect. You can even shrink an article of clothing down a few sizes in just one wash-dry cycle. If you want to shrink those items just a small amount, check their size at various points during the wash and dry cycles. Also, consider starting the dry cycle on medium rather than high heat to mitigate over-shrinkage. When the clothing is just right, remove it. If the newly-shrunken item is still wet, then continue to dry it with the air-dry setting on the dryer.
Some polyester will shrink, but it may take a few laundry cycles for the drama to really unfold. Polyester holds up to heat well, so feel free to go for the hottest settings on your washer and dryer. Wash and dry the polyester items over and over until they shrink -- or until you call "uncle."
Still too big? Try applying a hot iron to the garment when it's damp. Be careful not to stretch the fabric; just heat it. When you're done ironing, toss the item back into a hot dryer.
Depending on the fabric, you can take your clothes down a size, or two, or even three!
- Texere Silk. "Cleaning & Washing Silk." (April 9, 2012) https://texeresilk.com/main/cms/silk_care_cleaning_washing
- Katsirebas, Amy. "How to Shrink Polyester." Made Man. (April 10, 2012) http://www.mademan.com/mm/how-shrink-polyester.html
- Katsirebas, Amy. "How to Shrink Clothes." Made Man. (April 10, 2012) http://www.mademan.com/mm/how-shrink-clothes.html
- Real Simple. "How to: Wash Cashmere." (April 10, 2012) http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/clothing-care/how-to-wash-cashmere-00000000031600/index.html
- San Diego Union-Tribune. "Hints From Heloise." (April 9, 2012) http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20081002/news_1c02heloise.html
- Real Simple. "How To: Fix Stretched Sweater Cuffs." (April 9, 2012) http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/clothing-care/fix-stretched-sweater-cuffs-00000000002250/index.html