How to Shrink Clothes

Different materials shrink differently and require different methods of shrinking, so it's important to determine what the garment is made of before you try shrinking it. For example, cotton shrinks the best, polyester shrinks less, while leather and fur will get ruined rather than shrink [source: Shrinking Clothes of Different Materials].

Let's take a look at some ways to shrink clothing. Note: For cotton, wool and polyester, if the process doesn't shrink the garment enough, follow the directions for pre-shrunk and older clothes later in this article.


  1. Wash the cotton garment in hot water.
  2. Put it in the dryer. Turn the dryer on high heat.
  3. Check the garment's size at various points during the drying cycle. This is especially important if this is the first time you're washing the garment and it's not a pre-shrunk garment. If it looks small enough, set the dryer to low heat/air dry and let it run until the garment is dry [source: Shrinking Cotton Clothes].


  1. Wash the wool garment in hot water.
  2. Put the garment in the dryer. Run the dryer on medium heat until the garment's dry [source: Shrinking Wool Clothes].


  1. Wash the polyester garment in cold water.
  2. Put the garment in the dryer. Run the dryer on high heat until the garment's dry [source: Shrinking Polyester Clothes].

Pre-shrunk and older garments:

  1. Boil water.
  2. Soak the garment in the hot water. Be sure the water covers the entire garment.
  3. Transfer the garment to the washing machine. Use insulated gloves or a long stick to avoid burning yourself.
  4. Wash the garment in hot water using a very small amount of detergent.
  5. Place the garment in the dryer as soon as the washing cycle ends. Dry the garment on high heat.
  6. Check the size of the garment. If it's still too large, repeat Steps 1 -5 until the garment shrinks enough [source: Shrinking Pre-shrunk and Old Clothes].