Its not often that tall men will want to shrink clothes, as finding clothes big enough to wear is already difficult enough! However, the time may come when you need to shrink your shirt, sweater, hoodie, or jeans after they get stretched out.

If these techniques below don’t give you that exact fit you are looking for, check out our guide to the best t-shirts for tall men on the market.

Now, go ahead and follow our instructions below to learn how to properly shrink your shirts!

Table of Contents

  • Fastest way to shrink a shirt: With iron and spray bottle
  • Best way to shrink a shirt: With washing and drying machine
How to shrink a shirt

How To Shrink A Shirt

Total Time: 2 hrs

Cost: $0

Supplies & Tools

  • Washing machine
  • Drying machine
a photo of a washing and drying machine to shrink your shirt
Washing machine & Drying machine

There are 3 methods to choose from when trying to shrink your shirt, and all of them involve the use of heat and moisture. Different shirts will have different shrinkage capabilities, depending on the type of fabric the shirt is made from. Shrinking will change the size of the shirt, weight of the shirt and ability to stand up to long-term wear.

Even though the amount of shrinking will change, the one constant is that hot water will shrink your clothes, so watch out.

Check the fabric of your shirt

Before performing any of the following shirt shrinking techniques, you must first check the fabric of your shirt. Shirts made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or wool, will have a much greater ability to shrink, when compared to shirts made from synthetic fibers such as polyester (read can you shrink polyester?), rayon, or spandex. A 100% cotton shirt will have a much greater ability to shrink compared to a polyester shirt.

this is a photo of tall paul checking the fabric of his shirt

Being aware of the fabric type your shirt is made from will help you to avoid over shrinking or damaging your clothes. Some shirts are also “pre-shrunk” which means they have been specially treated during the production process and will have almost no ability to shrink.

Once you know the fabric type your shirt is made from, use our article on how to shrink clothes to find out how different fabrics react to hot water and heat. 

The most commonly used method to shrink shirts involves using the washing machine and the dryer.If you don’t have a drying machine, that’s ok you can still dry yours clothes without a dryer, or simply follow the line dry or dry flat process.

If time is an issue, learn how long does a dryer take and how long does a washer take. Then make sure you can get it done before you need to lave the house. You may also want to know how hot does a dryer get.

1. Put shirt into the wash

Put your shirt into the wash with like colored clothing that is light and wont leave any fluffy residue on the shirt.

this is a photo of a shirt put into the wash

2. Wash shirt on high heat

Set the washing machine to the highest water temperature possible and run the wash cycle.

this is a photo of a washing machine set on high heat

3. Remove shirt when finished

Once the washing machine has completed its cycle, remove the shirt and place it into the dryer.

this is a photo of tall paul taking out a shirt from the washer after shrunk

4. Put dryer on hottest setting

Turn your dryer onto the highest heat setting and run the machine.

this is a photo of a dryer on its highest setting to shrink a shirt

5. Periodically check your shirt

Periodically check on your shirt to make sure you do not shrink it too much, especially if it is a linen or cotton shirt as shirts made from these fabrics will shrink up to 20%.

this is a photo of a shirt being checked in in the dryer as it shrinks

6. Remove and hang shirt

Remove the shirt from the dryer when you have found the right size for you.

this is a photo of a shirt hanging on a hanger

How to shrink a shirt: quick tips

  • Check the fabric label before starting. Be aware of the type of fabric the shirt is made from, and if it is pre-shrunk or has received any anti-shrinking treatments.
  • Turn your shirt inside out before you put it into the washing machine or dryer. This will help avoid damaging your shirt over the long run.
  • Be sure you know to use a dryer properly first.
  • When your shirt is in the dryer, periodically pause the machine and check your shirt to make sure you haven’t over shrank your clothes.
  • Be aware that natural fibers will shrink at a much greater rate than shirts made from synthetic fibers and blends.

Boiling Water Method

Total Time: 2 hrs

Cost: $0

Using boiling water to shrink shirts is a highly effective method that can be used to shrink all types of clothing.

How to shrink shirts using boiling water:

1. Fill large pot with 3/4 water for your shirt

Fill a large pot that will hold your shirt without overflowing, with water.

2. Bring large pot to a boil before adding shirt

Put the pot on the stove and turn up the heat until you have a pot full of boiling water

3. Put the shirt into boiling water

Put your shirt into the boiling water and let the garment soak for at least 5 minutes. You will achieve a greater level of shrinkage if you allow your shirt to soak in the boiling water for a longer period of time.

this is a photo of a shirt put into boiling water to shrink

4. Carefully remove the shirt from the boiling water

Once completed, carefully remove the shirt from the boiling water and gently wring the shirt out to remove excess water. Use a pair of tongs to take the shirt out, or simply dump the pot into a clean sink. Be careful not to re-stretch the shirt.

this is a photo of a shirt being removed from shrinking in boiling water

5. Hang dry the shirt if shrunk enough

Hang dry the shirt or put the shirt into the dryer if you want to further increase shrinkage. Allow the shirt to dry and repeat as necessary until you achieve a satisfactory level of shrinkage. 

this is a photo of a shrunk shirt hang drying

Iron And Water Method

Total Time: 1 hr

Cost: $0

Supplies & Tools

  • Spray bottle
  • Ironing board
  • Iron
this is a photo of a spray bottle used to shrink a shirt
this is a photo of an ironing board to shrink a shirt

If you do not have access to a washing machine or dryer, or need a quick fix to shrink your shirt, then this is the method for you.

How to shrink shirts using the iron:

1. Fill spray bottle with tap water to shrink shirt

Fill your spray bottle with tap water. The water does not need to be a specific temperature, just make sure there is no other liquids in the water from past use.

2. Spray areas on shirt that you want shrunk

Spray the area or areas on your shirt you want shrunk. Get the fabric damp but not soaking wet. Don’t be afraid to get a big area of fabric wet to make sure enough fabric shrinks.

this is a photo of tall paul spraying areas on a shirt with a spray bottle

3. Turn the iron to high heat for shirt shrinking

Turn the iron on to a high heat setting to get the most shrinkage of your shirt.

this is a photo of an iron turned to high heat to shrink shirt

4. Iron the areas you want to shrink on your shirt

Iron your shirt in the areas you wish to shrink. Do not let the iron sit on once spot, move the iron around the areas you dampened in slow circular and up and down motions.

this is a photo of tall paul ironing the damp areas if his shirt to shrink it

5. Lay the shirt flat once shrunk

Once you finish ironing lay the shirt flat to dry if possible. This will ensure that the shirt doesn’t stretch out once again. You can keep the shirt on the same ironing board you used, like I am doing here.

this is a photo of a shirt laying flat once shrunk

FAQ

Using hot water and heat will allow you to shrink most types of clothing. Cotton, linen, and other natural fibers will shrink greatly by simply using the washing machine and dryer with hot water and high heat settings. Clothes made from rayon, polyester, or spandex will not shrink much and are meant to keep their shape.

You may be able to shrink your shirt down a size if it is made from 100% cotton, linen, or a cotton blend. If your shirt is made from spandex, rayon, or polyester, it is unlikely you will be able to shrink it down a size, as shirts made from synthetic fibers are meant to keep their shape and size.

If you want to shrink your shirt by a size the two most effective methods to use will be boiling water, and the washer and dryer. Both of these methods use hot water and heat to shrink your shirt, and the hotter the water temperature, the greater chance you will have of shrinking your shirt by a size.

Before you attempt to shrink your shirt, you should check to see which fabric the shirt is made from. Some shirts can be ruined by soaking in hot water and high heat, while others are meant for it. Turning your shirt inside out while in the washer or dryer will also help to avoid damage and ware.