4 Ways to Effectively Shrink a Sweatshirt

As winter draws closer, sweatshirts become more critical for our comfort. Sometimes, you might find yourself in situations where your only sweatshirt is oversized. I’ll teach you how to make that oversized sweatshirt fit you better.

How to Shrink a Sweatshirt Fast


You can shrink a sweatshirt using several simple methods.

1. Washing Machine

Lady Using a Washing Machine

This method works best if your sweatshirt is made of organic materials that shrink easily. Unlike cotton or wool, synthetic materials like rayon and nylon do not shrink with this method. You can check the sweatshirt label to know what material it’s made from. 

Materials that shrink when exposed to heat usually have an instruction to only wash with cold water. Follow the steps explained below to shrink such materials:

  • Soak your sweatshirt in hot water and put it in the washing machine.
  • Pour sufficient laundry detergent and wash. Select the longest washing size to maximize the shrinkage; a normal wash cycle will only shrink it one size.
  • Rinse the cloth and check if the sweatshirt is perfect for you.

2. Boiling Water

Putting your sweatshirt in boiling water is a follow-up to the first method of washing it with hot water. This method will shrink the sweatshirt more because of the water’s greater heat. The steps to use this method are as follows:

  • Boil a large pot of water on high heat until it comes to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat, submerge your sweatshirt in hot water, and cover the pot.
  • Leaving the sweatshirt for 10-15 minutes will shrink it one size. Letting the water get to room temperature will shrink it two sizes.

An alternative way to use this method is to put your sweatshirt in a sink and pour boiling water over it. Afterward, allow it cool to room temperature.

3. Pressing Iron 

Pressing Iron

You can shrink your sweatshirt by up to one size with a pressing iron; the steps for this method are as follows:

  • Wet the sweatshirt with warm water and remove any excess moisture.
  • Lay the clothe on your iron board, and turn on your iron to warm it up.
  • Set the iron to medium heat setting— high heat can burn your sweatshirt, and low heat won’t be effective.
  • Slowly run your iron across the garment, ensuring you don’t leave it in one spot longer than 10 seconds. The sweatshirt usually shrinks as you iron it.
  • You’ll observe your sweatshirt giving off steam as you iron it till it is almost dry. 
  • You can hang your damp sweatshirt to dry or use an electronic dryer.

4. Tailor

If all the heat-shrinking methods don’t work to reduce the size of your sweatshirt, you can give it to a tailor. The tailor will loose the thread that joins the sweatshirt and sew it at a point that makes it tighter. This method is the most efficient because it works on all sweatshirt materials.

Is it Safe to Shrink a Sweatshirt?

Yes, it is safe to shrink a sweatshirt. However, the best way to shrink your sweatshirt is by giving it to a professional tailor to adjust the size to your taste. This method is safer than the other heat-shrinking methods; some disadvantages of using the heat-shrinking methods include the following:

1. Ineffective on Some Materials

While heat shrinking works effectively on cotton and wool, it doesn’t work well on others. Synthetic materials like rayon and nylon will not shrink even if you put them in boiling water. Polyester is another tricky material to shrink.

2. Disproportionate Shrinking

Sometimes your sweatshirt will not shrink proportionately. This issue occurs when the heat is concentrated on a portion and doesn’t touch the others. The manufacturer might make some parts of your sweatshirt from other materials that do not shrink easily like the rest of the clothing. 

Thicker parts of the garment, like the cuffs and collars, do not easily shrink when you use the ironing method. Finally, there’s no way to precisely heat-shrink your sweatshirt. Sometimes the sweatshirt might shrink excessively, and other times it would stop short of your desire.

3. Fading 

Washing a garment with hot water causes tough stains to come out easily. Similarly, hot water can cause your sweatshirt to lose color, especially if it’s dyed. Therefore, you should only use the heat method on sweatshirts that aren’t dyed.

4. Weaken/Destroy the Material

Excessive heat can weaken the fibers of your sweatshirt’s fabric, making it more prone to tears and loosened seams. The fabric gets weaker when you do this more often.

Some materials do not do well in high temperatures. In particular, polyester does not fare well when exposed to temperatures above 178 °F (81 °C). Temperatures that high can cause the fabric to become rough or stiff.

Read More: How to Shrink Polyester

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