How to Shrink a Cotton Shirt: 3 Easy Techniques

Sometimes, the cotton shirts we love do not fit us properly. Whether it’s your used oversized shirt or that large one you’ve fallen in love with at the store, you would probably prefer them fitted. 

Method 1 — How to Shrink Cotton Shirt With Boiling Water 

Pot of Boiling Water

You can shrink a cotton shirt with boiling water by following the steps below:

1. Get a Large Pot to Boil Water

Ensure the pot you’re using is large enough to avoid water spillage while shrinking the shirt. Put water in your pot and boil on your cooking gas until the water boils. After the water is boiled, submerge your shirt in the boiled water.

2. Determine How Much You Want to Shrink Your Shirt

Before submerging your shirt into the water, you can choose the size of shrinkage you want. The first thing to do is determine how long you want your shirt to remain in the water. 

If you want to shrink your shirt by only a small amount, you must wait 10-15 minutes before putting the shirt into the water. To shrink from half a size to 1, wait 5 minutes before putting your shirt in. 

You might also want to shrink from size 1 to 2; submerge your shirt into the boiling pot as soon as you remove it from the heat. Let your shirt remain in the water for at least five minutes. Note that the longer your shirt remains in the boiled water, the more it shrinks.

3. Remove and Dry the Shirt

After leaving your shirt to shrink properly for about 5 minutes, carefully remove it from the water with a wooden spoon and place it in a dryer. 

Ensure your shirt doesn’t cool down before placing it in the dryer. Since the dryer produces heat, using it adds to the shrinkage of your shirt and can easily help you achieve that desired size 1 or 2. 

If you want your shirt to have a manageable amount of shrinkage, it’s best to reduce the dryer’s temperature to a medium setting. However, if you’re unsatisfied with the shrinkage, you can leave the dryer at a high temperature. 

When you get your desired shirt, remove it from the dryer and air-dry it on a rack.

4. Repeat as Necessary 

After you’re done with the process, you’ll notice a huge difference in your cotton shirt. However, if you’re still unsatisfied with your desired result, you can repeat this same process as often as you want.

Method 2 — How to Shrink Cotton Shirt With Washing Machine

Washing Machines

You can also follow the steps below to shrink your cotton shirt with a washing machine.

1. Set Your Washer Temperature and Put Your Shirt

Depending on how much you want to shrink your shirt, you can set your water temperature to about 130° F. You can add a bit of detergent if you wish, but it’s not necessary. Allow the shirt to wash for about 10 minutes before removing it from the washer. 

2. Remove Your and Dry it

Carefully place your shirt into the dryer and set the temperature to your desire until it’s completely dry. Check periodically throughout the drying process to ensure you don’t over-shrink the shirt. 

3. Repeat as Necessary

You can repeat the process if you’re unsatisfied with the result.

Method 3 — Take Your Cotton Shirt to a Professional Tailor/ Seamstress

Some extra-large cotton shirts do not shrink enough. In this case, you can take your shirt to a professional tailor, who will take your measurements and sew the shirt to fit your taste.

Things to Note While You Shrink a Cotton Shirt

You should know some things before shrinking your favorite cotton shirts.

1 Cotton Shirts Cannot Shrink Infinitely

As much as you might want to get your old cotton shirt to its initial size, you should know that there’s only so much it can shrink. Ordinarily, most cotton shirts can only shrink down to about 20% of the original size. You cannot shrink an extra-large shirt to a small one, and the shirt shrinks depending on the cotton type. 

2. Ensure it’s 100% Cotton

Materials such as fur or leather won’t shrink, and attempting to do that can completely damage them. Furthermore, a shirt over 50% cotton won’t shrink like pure cotton.

3. Check the Fabric’s Color Fastness

Before deciding to shrink your shirt, it’s important to assess the condition of the shirt and check if the dyes in it are not colorfast. Using hot water to shrink it will cause the dye to bleed. Consequently, a red shirt may become pink. Before attempting to shrink that shirt, you can do a quick colorfast test to be certain about going ahead to shrink.

4. Check the Tag

Every shirt has a tag that describes the nature of the clothing and how to wash it. It is best to read the instructions to avoid damaging the shirt.

5. Shrinking a Cotton Shirt With Graphics

Lady in Graphic Tees

Some shirts have graphic designs, and you don’t want to harm the prints while shrinking the shirt. To shrink a graphic shirt, always remember to turn the shirt inside out to prevent direct high-heat exposure to the ink. That way, you can save your shirt and the design printed on it, except the design was not printed properly.

Read more: How to Shrink a Sweater

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