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. Not tumble dry low or tumble dry medium, these will not be hot enough,
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 how to make a t-shirt tighter with these detailed step-by-step instructions for the 5 most effective methods for shrinking a T-shirt.
- How to shrink a t-shirt
- How to shrink a t-shirt: boiling water
- How to shrink a t-shirt: use an iron
- How to shrink a t-shirt: use a steamer
- How to shrink a t-shirt: use a blow dryer
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. Alternatively you can make your t-shirt smaller by taking it into a tailors. If there is no tailor near you, try your local dry cleaner.
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.
Learn more about polyester with can you shrink polyester?
Because of all these different blends of fabrics a shirts weight and thickness will vary.
Not all clothes shrink equally! Follow our detailed guide on how to shrink clothes for examples on all your clothing.
Below are our detailed instructions on the 5 most effective ways to shrink your t-shirts.
1. Turn it inside out
Turn the t-shirt inside out to protect the colors and prints on the outer layer of the fabric.
2. Put in washer
Place the shirt in the washing machine.
3. Add soap (optional)
Add liquid laundry detergent. Refer to the detergent’s label to add the correct amount. Adding cleaning soap is not needed for shrinking the shirt, however a good cleaning doesn’t hurt since its already going in the washing machine.
4. Change the settings
Adjust the washing machine’s settings to the hottest water temperature, and the longest rinse cycle possible.
5. Press start
Push start on the washing machine (curious how long does a washer take?).
6. Transfer to dryer
Once the wash cycle is finished, remove the t-shirt and place it in the dryer.
7. Change the settings on the dryer
Adjust the heat setting on the dryer to tumble dry high (learn how hot does a dryer get).
8. Press start
Push start and run the drying cycle.
9. Remove and store
Once finished, remove the t-shirt and fold to store or wear!
How to shrink a t-shirt: quick tips
- Machine wash the t-shirt in hot water. Hot water can cause the fibers to contract, leading to some shrinkage.
- After washing, tumble dry the t-shirt on high heat. The heat from the dryer can further aid in shrinking the fabric.
- When removing the t-shirt from the dryer, avoid stretching it while it’s still hot. This can prevent it from reverting to its original size.
- If the desired shrinkage is not achieved in one cycle, repeat the washing and drying process until you achieve the desired fit. However, be cautious not to over-shrink the shirt.
- Some fabrics, like 100% cotton, are more prone to shrinking than others. Keep this in mind when attempting to shrink a t-shirt and consider the material’s natural characteristics.
How To Shrink A T-Shirt: Boiling Water
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.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
- Carefully add your t-shirt to the boiling water and submerge it.
- Let your t-shirt soak in the boiling water for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the degree of shrinkage you desire.
- Carefully remove the t-shirt from the boiling water, and allow it to cool.
- Wring out the t-shirt to remove excess water from the fabric.
- If you wish to continue shrinking your t-shirt, proceed to place it in the dryer and dry on the tumble dry high setting.
- Alternatively, you can take your t-shirt to hang (line dry) or lay flat to dry (flat dry.)
How To Shrink A T-Shirt: Use An Iron
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:
- Turn the t-shirt inside out to protect the outer layer of the shirt.
- Lay the t-shirt flat and evenly on an ironing board.
- Use a spray bottle to add moisture to the area you wish to shrink. The fabric should be damp/moist but not soaking wet.
- Turn the iron on to the highest heat setting possible.
- Hand press the iron in the spots you wish to shrink. Briefly press the iron down, remove, and repeat.
- Continue until you reach your desired results.
How To Shrink A T-Shirt: Use A Steamer
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.
- Fill the steamer’s water tank with fresh, clean water. Try not to use old, stale water to steam any of your garments.
- Power the steamer on. Wipe away any droplets that may come from the mouth of the steamer.
- Hang your t-shirt.
- Use a spray bottle to add moisture to the areas of the shirt you wish to shrink.
- Begin steaming your shirt in the areas that you want to shrink.
- Use your free hand to pull and adjust the t-shirt as necessary.
- Continue until you reach your desired results.
How To Shrink A T-Shirt: Use A Blow Dryer
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.
- Hang your t-shirt. Make sure the t-shirt is clean.
- Use a spray bottle filled with water to add moisture to the areas of the shirt you wish to shrink.
- Turn the blow dryer on to the highest heat and wind levels.
- 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.
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.