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How to shrink a sweatshirt? Step by Step Sweatshirt Shrink Control Guide

Posted on May 03 2020

how to shrink a sweatshirt

How to Shrink a Sweatshirt?

Different pullover crewneck sweatshirt fabrics shrink differently and require different ways of shrinking. That said, you first need to determine the material of apparel before you choose the right method of shrinkage. For instance, cotton materials offer the best shrinking results, while polyester shrinks less. Other fabrics like fur and leather do not shrink and, instead, get damaged. Before getting into the “how” details, let’s first understand the meaning of shrinkage.

What is shrink or shrinkage?

Shrinkage is the contraction or reduction in the size (dimensions) of a piece of cloth or apparel fabric from its original size following a wash. The cloth or fabric, therefore, continues to shrink with subsequent laundry processes. Shrinkage occurs because of overstretching of the material, resulting in the high tension within the woven cloth.

How to shrink a sweatshirt in the washing machine

  • Step 1: Place the sweatshirt inside the washing machine by itself. Add a color-safe detergent to prevent fading. Set the device on high heat and wash the shirt using the regular cycle.
  • Step 2: Place the sweatshirt in the dryer and set the highest heat. Ensure the lint trap is clean to avoid dryer fires. Check the shirt after 30 minutes. If it is still clammy, continue drying it every half an hour until fully dry.
  • Step 3: Put on the sweatshirt. If it is still loose, repeat the procedure until it fits you as you please. If it shrinks too much, rewash it but dry it while stretched.

How to shrink a sweatshirt with HAND WASH 

  • Step 1: Check the label on the sweatshirt to determine the water temperature that’s suitable for hand washing. You need to use the opposite temperature to shrink the apparel.
  • Step 2: Fill a sink/bucket with hot water and place the shirt in it to soak. Add a teaspoon of detergent and leave the cloth in the water for about five minutes then wash it using your hands.
  • Step3 : Rinse the sweatshirt in a separate sink with clean water. Wring it to remove excess water.
  • Step 4: Place the shirt on a drying rack or lay it flat on the ground to air dry. Avoid hanging the shirt since that stretches the fabric at the attachment points.
  • Step 5: Try on the shirt to see if it has shrunk to your preferred size. If it is still baggy, repeat the process until it achieves the perfect size for you.

    How to Unshrink a sweatshirt with HAND WASH 

    • Step 1: Fill the bathroom or kitchen sink with lukewarm water and add one or two teaspoons of fade-resistant  fabric softener.
    • Step 2: Place the sweatshirt in the water and soak it for about 20 minutes. The reason for soaking it for that long is to loosen the fabric and make them stretch.
    • Step 3: Empty the sink and squeeze it against the walls of the sink to remove excess water. Avoid wringing the cloth using hands as it causes uneven stretching. Instead, roll the shirt inside a towel to remove as much water as possible.
    • Step 4: Unfold the damp sweatshirt to its original size. This process is known as blocking. This procedure increases tension between garment fibers from each other, causing it to stretch.
    • Step 5:  Place the shirt on a drying rack and leave it to dry in a shaded place, away from direct sunlight or heat.

    How to shrink 80% cotton 20% polyester sweatshirt

    • Step 1: Pour warm water into a bucket [about half full] to make sure the cotton/polyester sweatshirt can be submerged.
    • Step 2: Use your hand to push the shirt under the water. Hold it inside the water, until it absorbs enough water for it to maintain its submerged position. Let it soak for about 20 minutes.
    • Step 3: Drain the water from the bucket and squeeze the sweatshirt to remove excess water. Place it on top of a towel and roll up the two clothes to release any water from the cotton/polyester fabric.
    • STEP 4: Place the 80% cotton 20% polyester shirt in the drier. Operate the drier in the cool, gentle setting until the garment dries.
    • STEP 5: Once the dryer stops, take out the sweatshirt immediately to prevent the fabric from creasing or wrinkling. 

    How to shrink a polyester sweatshirt
    with a washing machine

    • Step 1: Grab the sweatshirt and turn it inside-out to prevent fading due to the heat. Ensure you place it alone because it may ruin other garments as the shirt’s color may bleed out.
    • STEP 2: Wash the apparel using boiling water and set it on the longest wash cycle. You may add detergent if you wish to wash the shirt during the process, then rinse it using hot water.
    • STEP 3:  Place the shirt in a dryer and dry it using the highest heat and set the machine at the longest drying cycle. You need the heat for effective shrinking.
    • STEP 4:  Remove the sweatshirt from the dryer and let it cool to room temperature. If it hasn’t achieved the desired shrinkage, repeat the procedure to reduce the dimensions further.

      How to shrink a polyester sweatshirt
      hand wash

      • Step 1: Boil water in a stockpot and pour enough of it into a bucket. Using a pair of tongs, place the polyester sweatshirt inside until it submerges inside it. Let it soak for about 20 minutes until the water achieves a temperature that your hands can withstand.
      • Step 2: Drain off the water and squeeze the garment on the sides of the bucket to release excess water. You can alternatively pour the content of the bucket in a colander to release the water.
      • Step 3: Wring the clothing to ensure it is ready for drying. You can spread the shirt on an outdoor rack or use a dryer, but remember to set the highest heat. Repeat the procedure if the first-attempt does shrink the fabric.

      How to shrink a cotton sweatshirt
      hand wash

      • Step 1: Check the label on the collar of the item and ensure that it indicates the garment is 100% cotton.
      • Step 2: Use a pot to boil the water. Ensure that you leave enough space, so the water doesn’t flow over when you place the shirt. You can add vinegar to prevent color bleeding.
      • Step 3: Leave the sweatshirt in the boiling for about seven minutes and stir it using a wooden spoon to make sure every part of the fabric is adequately soaked.
      • Step 4: Remove the garment carefully from the boiling water and place it inside a dry. Set it to the highest temperature and the longest tumble time until it dries completely. Remove it from the dryer using a towel to protect your hands from the heat.
      • Step 5: If it hasn’t shrunk to your desired size, repeat the process as many times until the fabric shrinks to the size you prefer. 

      How to shrink a cotton sweatshirt
      using a washing machine

      • Step 1: Examine the collar label, ensuring that the shirt is 100% cotton. 
      • Step 2: Place the single garment inside a washing machine. High temperatures cause colors to bleed, and you don’t want the color to ruin other apparel. 
      • Step 3: Set the machine to operate at the hottest temperatures, both for tumbling and rinsing. You can add vinegar if you want to retain the color.
      • Step 4: After rinsing, place the sweatshirt inside a dryer and let it dry the garment at the highest heat possible.
      • Step 5: Remove the cloth from the dryer and let it cool, then try it on. If it hasn’t shrunk as you want, repeat the procedure.

      How to shrink a sweatshirt with
      print [handwash]

      • Step 1: Turn the shirt inside-out to make sure you don’t ruin the imprint on the top.
      • Step 2: Pour water in a stockpot and place it on top of a stove to boil the water. Turn off the heat once the water starts roll boiling.
      • Step 3: Place the garment inside the water. Ensure it is submerged in the water using a wooden spoon or tongs to avoid simmering your hands.
      • Step 4: Leave the shirt to soak in hot water for about five minutes and then remove it and let it cool to room temperature.
      • Step 5: Squeeze it by rolling it together with a clean towel to remove excess water.
      • Step 6: Put it inside a tumble dryer and let it operate at gentle heat to avoid ruining the top imprint. 
      • Step 7: Switch the dryer to the longest drying cycle for the best shrinkage.
      • Step 8: Remove it and put it on to see if it fits you. If it doesn’t, repeat the procedure once or twice until it contracts to your desired size.

      How to shrink a sweatshirt with print using
      a washing machine

      • Step 1: Turn the sweatshirt inside out so that the design or print does not get damaged due to the washing.
      • Step 2: Place the cloth inside the washing machine and set it on the highest temperature to make sure the water contracts the shirt. Ensure you only work with the item you want to shrink. Otherwise, the color may bleed and damage other garments.
      • Step 3: Take out the shirt from the machine and place it inside a dryer. Change the settings to a hot temperature and let it dry for the longest time.
      • Step 4: Once it is completely dry, remove it from the dryer and let it cool. It should be shrunk enough by now to fit you. If it is still baggy, repeat the process.

      How to shrink a shirt with a logo using
      a washing machine

      • Step 1: Turn the shirt inside-out to protect the integrity of the logo. Also, look for the “preshrunk” sign on the collar label. Usually, preshrunk shirts shrink very slightly. 
      • Step 2: Wash the sweatshirt inside a machine using the highest water temperature. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to prevent color bleeding. There’ll still be a little bleeding, a reason you should wash it without mixing it with other apparel.
      • Step 3: After washing, place the shirt in the dryer and let it dry using moderate heat for the longest drying time.
      • Step 4: After it completely dries, take it out of the dryer and let it cool before you wear the shirt.

      How to shrink a sweatshirt with an embroidered
      logo or image [machine wash]

      • Step 1: Place the sweatshirt in a washing machine by itself and set it to the hottest wash. 
      • Step 2: Add a gentle fabric softener and close the machine to start the washing cycle. When the cycle is complete, take it out and place it inside a tumble dryer.
      • Step 3: Set the dryer to the highest temperature. That shrinks the garment further. Let it dry for a longer time than the regular drying cycle.
      • Step 4: Once it completely dries, remove it from the dryer and let it cool, then try it on to determine whether it fits. If it doesn’t, put it back in the dryer for more shrinkage.

      How to wash a sweatshirt without shrinking

      • Step 1: One thing you need to do is to avoid the heat, especially when you are dealing with a piece of cotton fabric. It shrinks when subjected to heat. For other materials, you can do anything you want with them, so long as you don’t subject them to heat.
      • Step 2: Turn the washing machine to a cold wash and use a detergent specifically manufactured for a cold wash.
      • Step 3: Avoid placing the sweatshirt inside the drier as the heat will cause it to shrink considerably. Instead, let it air dry in a cool place without exposing it to direct sunlight. It should dry within 12 to 24 hours.
      • Step 4: Use an anti-wrinkle spray to remove creases. An iron presses garments using heat, and that’s one thing you want to avoid. Otherwise, you can use an iron at low temperatures.

      How to prevent shrinkage with washing machine

      • Step 1: Read the collar label of the garment to know the temperature, which is required when machine-washing the apparel. 
      • Step 2: Place the apparel inside the machine and set the required water temperature. At this point, you also need to set it on the right washing cycle. That ensures the machine operates at a slower spin-speed for a gentle wash.
    1. Step 3: Once you’re done with washing, place the shirt in a dryer. However, you need to be cautious because some garments require air drying instead of tumble drying. But for the latter, check the temperature requirement on the label to set the dryer appropriately. 
    2. How to reduce shrinkage for sweatshirts

      • Step 1: Reduce the washing frequency to maintain the factory size of the sweatshirt. You can do that by maintaining it in a clean state so you can confidently wear it again.
      • Step 2: Most fabrics react unkindly to heat. What you need is to wash the shirt using cold water. Hot water causes the fabrics to stretch. Washing machines remove stains with the right cold setting. When hand washing, you need to use more detergent to make sure the garment is properly cleaned.
      • Step 3: Always check the label on the collar. It shows you the dos and the don’ts when washing, drying, and ironing. Following these instructions will ensure that each of the processes is done correctly.
      • Step 4: Air-dry the clothing. You should not hang it on a drying line. Lay it on a flat surface or a drying rack without direct exposure to sunlight.


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