How to Shrink a Shirt

If you’re wondering how to shrink a shirt without damaging it, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll show you effective methods to resize your shirt without compromising its quality.

How to Shrink a Shirt
How to Shrink a Shirt

Whether you’ve stumbled upon a fantastic find in a vintage shop that’s too big for you, or you’ve fallen in love with your boyfriend’s new shirt and want to wear it yourself, shrinking a shirt to a smaller size is a great solution.

How to Shrink a Shirt Tutorial 

There are various techniques you can use to achieve this, and we’ll guide you through them, ensuring your shirt looks and feels just as good as it did before. So, let’s dive into the steps for safely and effectively shrinking your shirt while preserving its integrity. The good news is that making a shirt smaller is simpler than it might appear. You can reduce the size of your new favourite shirt in just a couple of hours.

But, it’s important to keep in mind the fabric type when you’re trying to shrink a t-shirt. While you can shrink other types of fabric too, cotton works best with this method. Always check the label to ensure that the shirt hasn’t already been pre-shrunk.

There are two easy ways to shrink a shirt: The boiling method and the washer or dryer method.

Boiling Method:

Shrinking a shirt using the boiling method is quite simple. Here’s how to do it:

  • Boil a large pot of water and turn off the stove when it reaches a boiling point.
  • Place the shirt you want to shrink into the boiling water for about 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how much you want it to shrink.
  • Use tongs or wooden spoons to take the shirt out to avoid burns.
  • Let the shirt cool and check the result. You can repeat this process as many times as needed to achieve the desired size.

Washer or Dryer Method:

You can also shrink your shirt in the washer or dryer, but be careful, as this method can unintentionally shrink clothing. For Cotton, Denim, or Polyester Shirts here are steps to follow:

  • Set your washing machine to the highest heat setting available. The heat relaxes the fabric, making it shrink.
  • Use the longest washing cycle to reshape the garment by releasing fabric tension. This is effective for cotton and denim and somewhat for polyester.
  • Set your dryer to a high cycle, as both hot water and hot air condense the fabric.
  • Use the longest drying cycle available to maximize the shrinkage. Allow the shirt to cool in the dryer, as air-drying may not shrink it effectively. Avoid air-drying denim, as it may cause stretching.
  • Repeat the process as needed to achieve your desired result, especially for polyester shirts, which can be harder to shrink than cotton.

By following these methods, you can effectively shrink your shirt without any complications.

Best Types of Fabric Shirts to Shrink 

Before you begin the process of shrinking a t-shirt, it’s essential to look at the label on the shirt to check what kind of fabric it’s made from. The type of fabric makes a big difference in how easy it is to shrink a shirt. The best fabrics for shrinking are the ones with natural fibres.

Cotton, as mentioned earlier, shrinks more easily than other fabrics and can reduce the shirt’s size by up to 20%. Other fabric types like polyester, linen, wool, and denim can also be shrunk, but it might take a few more tries to achieve the size you want.

How to Shrink Shirts Made of Wool 

The process mentioned earlier works for cotton, denim, and polyester, but if you’re trying to shrink a shirt made of wool or silk, there are some important considerations to keep in mind due to the delicate nature of these fabrics.

Shrinking a Wool Shirt:

Wool is delicate, so shrinking it requires special care. Here’s how to do it:

  • You don’t need to set the washer for the longest cycle. Wool is responsive to heat, so a short cycle works well.
  • When drying wool, unlike cotton, use a low heat cycle. Wool is sensitive to heat and shrinks quickly, so a short cycle with low temperature is best.
  • Check the garment periodically to ensure even shrinking, as wool tends to shrink unevenly due to its thickness.
  • If you accidentally shrink wool too much, don’t worry! You can bring it back to its original size by soaking it in cool water for about thirty minutes. Once it cools off, wrap it in a towel to remove excess water.

Shrinking a Silk Shirt:

Silk is delicate as well, so here’s how to shrink it safely:

  • Place the silk fabric in a mesh bag before washing it to protect it from heat and damage.
  • Use a delicate and short cycle with low heat for washing, as silk is sensitive to heat. Minimal heat tightens the silk threads and the weave naturally.
  • Unlike other fabrics, you can air-dry silk, as it tends to retain its shape and won’t stretch. Wrap it in a towel to remove excess water but avoid wringing it, as this can damage the fabric. Hang it to dry, avoiding direct sunlight to prevent colour fading.
  • If you choose to spin dry, do so with a heatless air setting and keep it to the shortest time possible.

By following these specific instructions, you can safely shrink shirts made of wool or silk without causing damage to the delicate fabrics.

Caution When Shrinking a Shirt 

When you’re learning how to shrink a t-shirt, there are several important things to keep in mind.

1. Use Caution with Heat:

Heat can be harsh on fabric, so you should be extra careful when trying to shrink your favourite shirt. This is especially true for older or delicate shirts, as exposing them to high heat may cause damage. Always exercise caution when shrinking.

2. Watch for Fading:

Using a high heat setting can lead to fading, so be mindful of this when you’re shrinking dark-coloured shirts and t-shirts.

Tips for Shrinking a Shirt

  • After each attempt, always try on the t-shirt or shirt. You want to avoid shrinking it too much, so check the fit by trying it on before each cycle.
  • To protect printed designs on your shirt, shrink it inside out. Repeated shrinking cycles can damage the print, so it’s best to wash it inside out. This is one of the first things to remember when you’re planning to learn how to shrink a t-shirt.

By being cautious with heat, monitoring for fading, and following these tips, you can successfully shrink your shirts without any unwanted surprises.


Shrinking a shirt that’s too big for you is not only possible but also quite easy. You can do it by hand or with a washer and dryer, and both methods are effective. It doesn’t require much time or effort to transform your oversized tee into a perfectly fitting one.


How much can you shrink a shirt? 

Cotton is still the easiest fabric to shrink. Keep in mind, though, that a cotton shirt might only get about 20% smaller. How much it shrinks depends on the fabric and whether it’s been shrunk before.

Do Shirts Shrink in the Washer or Dryer?

Shirts made of natural materials like cotton, denim, and linen can shrink in both the washer and dryer when exposed to high heat.

Can You Unshrink a Shirt?

While it’s not always possible, you can sometimes unshrink a shirt by washing it again and gently stretching it back to its original shape while it’s wet.



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