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Laundry · How to Unshrink Clothes Using Inexpensive Baby Shampoo

How to Unshrink Clothes Using Inexpensive Baby Shampoo

Had a favorite shirt shrink in the wash? No worries! You can use this simple 3-step method to unshrink shirts, pants, and more to return them to their original shape!

I’m guessing that at some point in our lives, most of us have experienced the deep despair of having accidentally shrunk a favorite clothing item in the wash or dryer because we forgot to read the laundry care symbols on the clothing item. And after cursing the heavens or eating your feelings, you may have even resigned yourself to tossing that shrunken item in the donation pile. And while I can’t go back and change the past, I can offer you an easy way to prevent such a tragedy from occurring in the future!

Today I’ll be sharing a simple 3-step method you can use to actually unshrink your clothes. I’ve used this method dozens of times at this point (because I never seem to learn from my laundry mistakes), and it has worked like a charm every time. 🙂 I’ll also share some useful tips about using this method to unshrink specific materials, which you can find near the bottom of the post. So let’s get started!

Here’s what you’ll need:

How To Unshrink Clothes Quickly And Easily

To unshrink most clothing, soak the item in a solution of lukewarm water and a capful of baby shampoo. Gently knead the item with your hands to help relax the fibers. Gently pat or roll dry with a towel, and then use your hands to gently stretch the item out to its original size. Then air dry.

More on this process below:

Step 1 – Soak in a Solution of Lukewarm Water & Baby Shampoo

Fill a sink (or bucket) with lukewarm water then add a capful of baby shampoo to the water.

Place the item you want to unshrink into the sudsy water. Let it soak for a minute or two, then gently knead the item with your hands to help relax the fibers.

Remove the item from the water and gently squeeze it to remove some of the water. (But don’t wring it or rinse it out!)

Step 2 – Absorb Water From Shrunken Clothing with a Towel

Lay out one of your big, clean bath towels and lay the clothing item flat out on top of it.

Roll the towel up from one end so the clothing item is wrapped inside. Press on the towel gently to absorb the excess water, then unroll the towel.

Step 3 – Gently Stretch & Reshape Clothing

Grab your second clean bath towel and lay the damp piece of clothing out on it.

Use your hands to gently stretch the item out to its original size. Finally, leave the clothing item on the towel and allow it to air dry completely.

A Note On Rising: You’ll notice the directions don’t mention anything about rinsing out the shampoo water. That’s because in my experience, this process doesn’t leave very much soap behind in the clothes, and the little soap that does remain seems to help keep the fibers pliable during the stretching process. So I see no reason to fret over it! 🙂

BONUS: Tips For Unshrinking Specific Materials

When it comes to unshrinking, some materials are more forgiving than others. Here’s what you can expect according to what material your item is made out of:

Cotton & Cotton Blends

These are probably the easiest materials to unshrink. Follow the steps I outlined above and you’ll have your item back to its original shape in no time!

Cashmere, Wool, & Other Animal Fibers

It’s a little more difficult to stretch these materials back out, especially with tight knits, but this method can still work well. Try gently pulling and stretching the garment while it’s still submerged in the sudsy water.

Synthetics (Polyester, Rayon, Etc.)

This method can works really well on synthetics, but it’s easy to go overboard and stretch them too far. Just be very gentle when stretching them back into shape.


To unshrink clothes like denim and denim blends, try a different approach. First, put the jeans on and sit in a lukewarm bath for about 15 minutes. Then dry yourself off so the jeans aren’t dripping wet, and move around in them for about an hour afterwards.

Related: How To Stop Denim Dye From Bleeding

Have you ever successfully rescued a shrunken clothing item?

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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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