How to Shrink a T-Shirt: 5 Effective Methods

Our article gives you step-by-step instructions on how to shrink t shirts using the 5 most effective methods.

How to Shrink a T-Shirt

cotton polyester

The best way to shrink a t-shirt is to use a washing machine and dryer. Turn your t shirt inside out first. Adjust the settings on the washing machine to the hottest water temperature possible and push start. Once the wash cycle is complete, move your t shirt into the dryer, and adjust the settings to tumble dry high. Push start on the dryer and remove the t shirt once done.

This is How to Shrink a T Shirt: 5 Effective Methods.

Shrinking a t shirt can be done in a number of different ways, with the two most effective methods being the washer and dryer, as well as using boiling water

Most T-shirts are made from either 100% cotton, a cotton blend, a polyester blend, or a cotton poly blend. Shirts made from cotton fiber will shrink more than shirts made from polyester, as polyester is a synthetic fabric that has been specially designed not to shrink. 

To shrink a T-shirt, use the washing machine on the highest heat setting possible, and when that is finished, move the shirt over to the dryer and run the cycle on tumble dry high.

Check our more detailed guide with How to Shrink a T-shirt in the Wash.

To use boiling water, simply fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Submerge your shirt in the boiling water and leave it there to soak for 5 to 15 minutes or until it has shrank to your desired size.

Continue reading to learn the detailed step-by-step instructions for the 5 most effective methods for shrinking a T-shirt

How to Shrink a T-Shirt

There are several methods to choose from when attempting to shrink your t-shirt. The most effective way to shrink your t-shirt is by using the washing machine and dryer on the highest levels of heat possible. Boiling water is also a great alternative way to shrink your shirts. 

100% Cotton t-shirts and cotton blend t-shirts will shrink more than t-shirts made out of polyester. Polyester has been specifically designed not to shrink or wrinkle, and is also non-resistant to heat, which means that you shouldn’t attempt to shrink your polyester clothing too frequently. Polyester mixed with cotton, such as a 60/40 poly cotton blend, will shrink to some degree, but not as much as a 100% cotton t-shirt. 

Not all clothes shrink equally! Follow our detailed guides on “How To” shrink anything in your closet, properly.

Below are our detailed instructions on the 5 most effective ways to shrink your t-shirts.

How to Use a Washer and Dryer to Shrink a T Shirt

To shrink your t-shirt in the washer and dryer, carefully follow the instructions outlined below. 

  1. Turn the t-shirt inside out to protect the colors and prints on the outer layer of the fabric.
  2. Place the shirt in the washing machine.
  3. (Optional) Add liquid laundry detergent. Refer to the detergent’s label to add the correct amount. 
  4. Adjust the washing machine’s settings to the hottest water temperature, and the longest rinse cycle possible.
  5. Push start on the washing machine.
  6. Once the wash cycle is finished, remove the t-shirt and place it in the dryer.
  7. Adjust the heat setting on the dryer to tumble dry high. 
  8. Push start and rush the drying cycle. 
  9. Once finished, remove the t-shirt and store or wear!

How to Use Boiling Water to Shrink a T Shirt

Since heat is the most important element involved in the shrinking process, boiling water is a great way to shrink your t-shirt. Review the instructions below to find out how to use boiling water to shrink shirts. 

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Carefully add your t-shirt to the boiling water and submerge it. 
  3. Let your t-shirt soak in the boiling water for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the degree of shrinkage you desire. 
  4. Carefully remove the t-shirt from the boiling water, and allow it to cool. 
  5. Wring out the t-shirt to remove excess water from the fabric. 
  6. If you wish to continue shrinking your t-shirt, proceed to place it in the dryer and dry on the tumble dry high setting. 
  7. Alternatively, you can take your t-shirt to hang or lay flat to dry. 

How to Use an Iron to Shrink a T Shirt

An iron is a great tool to shrink your t-shirt in a specific spot, rather than having to shrink the entire garment. If perhaps the neck, sleeve, or stomach area of your t-shirt are too loose, then you may choose to use an iron to shrink it. 

To shrink a t-shirt using an iron:

  1. Turn the t-shirt inside out to protect the outer layer of the shirt. 
  2. Lay the t-shirt flat and evenly on an ironing board. 
  3. Use a spray bottle to add moisture to the area you wish to shrink. The fabric should be damp/moist but not soaking wet. 
  4. Turn the iron on to the highest heat setting possible. 
  5. Hand press the iron in the spots you wish to shrink. Briefly press the iron down, remove, and repeat. 
  6. Continue until you reach your desired results. 

How to Use a Steamer to Shrink a T Shirt

If you are out of options and you need an alternative way to shrink your t-shirt, then you may choose to use steam! Steaming is an effective way to shrink your t-shirts in small but precise areas, without shrinking other parts of the garment. 

  1. Fill the steamer’s water tank with fresh, clean water. Try not to use old, stale water to steam any of your garments. 
  2. Power the steamer on. Wipe away any droplets that may come from the mouth of the steamer. 
  3. Hang your t-shirt.
  4. Use a spray bottle to add moisture to the areas of the shirt you wish to shrink. 
  5. Begin steaming your shirt in the areas that you want to shrink. 
  6. Use your free hand to pull and adjust the t-shirt as necessary. 
  7. Continue until you reach your desired results. 

How to Use a Blow Dryer to Shrink a T Shirt

Using a blow dryer to shrink your t-shirt may be slow and not quite as effective as using the washing machine and dryer, but it’s worth a try if you are in a bind. Follow the simple steps below to use a blow dryer to shrink your t-shirt. 

  1. Hang your t-shirt. Make sure the t-shirt is clean.
  2. Use a spray bottle filled with water to add moisture to the areas of the shirt you wish to shrink. 
  3. Turn the blow dryer on to the highest heat and wind levels. 
  4. Hold the blow dryer 1 to 2 inches (3 to 6 cm) away from the surface of the fabric and apply hot air until you have shrunk the t-shirt to your desired fit. 

How Much Do 100% Cotton T Shirts Shrink?

Cotton is one of the most shrink prone fabrics on the market and can shrink anywhere from 5% to 20% depending on if the shirt has been pre-shrunk or not. Fibers such as cotton, wool, and linen, will shrink the most when they are placed in hot water or in the dryer on tumble dry high. Polyester, nylon, and spandex, are examples of fabrics that do not shrink much or at all.

How to Shrink a T Shirt FAQ

The most effective way to shrink t-shirts is by using the washing machine and dryer on their highest heat settings. Set the washing machine to the hottest water temperature possible, and set the dryer to tumble dry high, to shrink your t-shirt most effectively.  

You can shrink a shirt a size if it is made from a fabric such as cotton, wool, or linen. Most synthetic fibers such as polyester are specially treated so that they will be resistant to shrinkage while in the wash. Shirts made from 100% cotton have the greatest ability to shrink a size. 

The best way to shrink clothes is by placing them into the washing machine on the highest water temperature setting, followed by placing them into the dryer on the tumble dry high setting. Heat is what shrinks clothes, and the high levels of heat in these two machines will effectively shrink most types of clothes. 

Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

Join The List