I was doing laundry in my new washer and dryer and I managed to shrink my favorite shirt. I got the shirt years ago in a thrift store and it can’t be replaced. Please tell me how to stretch a t-shirt so this one fits again!
Andrea Hoard – Manchester NH
Did you know that you can undo the damage if you have clothes that have shrunk in the wash? You aren’t performing magic; you are just doing what the dryer did in reverse. Any clothes like cotton, linen, baby clothes or jeans shrink because the fabric they are made of is woven together with small threads.
The thickness of the threads and how close, or tight, the threads are to one another help determine the size, feel, and pattern of your clothes. Heat on wet threads can make them bunch up more closely together.
The less space between threads, the smaller the piece of clothing is. This means all you have to do to get the shirt back to its original size is stretch the shirt enough to increase the space between threads.
The type of fabric determines how to stretch your shirt successfully. If it’s cotton, it’s pretty easy. Soak the shirt in water with baby shampoo or conditioner, ring it out using a towel, and hand stretch it to the right shape while it lays on a towel.
If your shirt is made from rayon, avoid wringing out the fabric, as this can damage it. The best ways to unshrink rayon are to soak it like you do with cotton, take it out of the water and gently squeeze out the excess.
Lay the garment on a towel and tightly roll it up to get rid of as much water as you can. Carefully pull on the shirt from different directions to stretch out the fabric.
Then, keep it flat (pin it to the towel or place something on the edges to keep it stretched out) until it dries. You can stretch polyester and other materials using this same method, just skip the wringing.
For more on unshrinking clothes and how to prevent disasters like this in the future, check this article: https://www.tipsbulletin.com/how-to-unshrink-clothes-the-ultimate-guide/
For animal-based fabric, like wool, you’ll use Borax or vinegar instead of the shampoo, and you’ll begin to stretch it out while you let it soak in the liquid. This is the best way for stretching a sweater made from wool. Once the garment finishes soaking, you need a more three-dimensional approach to complete the process to get your clothes to the right size.
You want to use your towels to build up the shirt’s shape from the inside. Stuff towels into the sleeves and the main body of the shirt to make it bigger. For these types of clothes, after using the towels to help stretch out the fabric, hang them up to finish drying.