Clothes that fit too tight can be uncomfortable and look awkward. 

Clothes can often shrink in the wash if they are cared for incorrectly, which is usually accidentally done by using hot water in the washing machine or the wrong tumble dry setting in the dryer

Many household substances such as baby shampoo, hair conditioner, baking soda, vinegar, and fabric softener can help to stretch out clothes when mixed with water. 

Use our step-by-step instructions throughout this guide to effectively stretch your hoodie, t-shirt, sweatpants, joggers, shorts, and jeans.

Table of Contents

  • Fastest way to stretch clothes: All equal time
  • Best way to stretch clothes: Using hair conditioner
how to stretch clothes

Supplies & Tools:

  • Hair conditioner
  • Fabric softener
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Baby shampoo
this is a photo of hair conditioner used to stretch clothes
Hair conditioner
Baking soda
Fabric softener
Baby shampoo
this is a photo of white vinegar used to stretch clothes
White vinegar

How To Stretch Clothes

If your clothes shrank in the wash from hot water, or were too small when you bought them, there are a handful of effective methods you can use to stretch them out!

Once stretched to your liking, put them away properly by hanging or folding your clothes so they stay in the shape you want and don’t wrinkle.

Continue reading below to see our step-by-step instructions on 4 useful methods you can use to help stretch your clothes. 

Fabric softener or hair conditioner

Total Time: 2 hr

Cost: $0.65

  • Buy  Amazon Conditioner for $4.65

This method is often the most convenient since it’s likely you have hair conditioner or fabric softener already in your household.

This stretching method is good for cotton, polyester, and knitted garments.

1. Fill container to soak

Fill a container, basin, or sink with lukewarm water.

this is a photo of a plastic basin being filled with water to stretch clothing

2. Add softener/conditioner

Add a few drops of hair conditioner or fabric softener to the water. Add ¼ cup at the most. Mix it in the water to dissolve.

this is a photo of tall paul adding conditioner to the full water basin

3. Submerge the clothes

Submerge your clothes in the water and let soak for 15 to 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the item.

this is a photo of fully submerged clothes in a plastic basin of water with conditioner in it

4. Remove the clothes

Remove the garment from the container and rinse under cold water until the soap is completely removed and the water runs clear.

This is a photo of the clothes being removed from the water basin and rinsed

5. Wring the clothes

Wring the garment or roll it up in an absorbent towel in order to remove excess water.

This is a photo of the clothes being removed from the water basin and being wrung

6. Stretch the clothes

Lay the garment evenly on a flat surface. Stretch the garment as far as possible and use weighted items to hold the garment in place.

This is a photo of tall paul putting weights on the clothes to be stretched

7. Leave the clothes for 24hrs

Leave the garment for 24 hours to dry and stretch permanently.

This is a photo of clothing with weights on it as it sits for twenty four hours

8. Repeat as necessary

Repeat the process as necessary if you require further stretching.

Repeat as necessary

Vinegar and baking soda

Total Time: 2 hr

Cost: $1.00

  • Buy Acclaim Vinegar for $24.99
  • Buy Pure Baking Soda for $7.99

This method involving baking soda and vinegar works best on garments made from natural fibers such as linen, cotton, and wool. It is not as effective on synthetic fabrics such as polyester and rayon.

1. Fill a basin with water for your vinegar and baking soda

Fill a basin, container, or sink with room temperature water. Put in enough to cover your clothes but not too much to dilute the vinegar and baking soda that you will add.

this is a photo of a basin being filled with water to stretch clothes in with baking soda and vinegar

2. Add 2 tablespoons baking soda to the water

Add two tablespoons of baking soda to the water. Mix the baking soda in the water until it has fully dissolved.

this is a photo of 2 tablespoons being added to water to stretch clothes in

3. Submerge your clothing in the baking soda water

Submerge your clothing in the baking soda water and let it soak for 5 minutes.

this is a photo of tall paul submerging his clothes in baking soda water to stretch them

4. Remove the clothing from the baking soda water

Remove the clothing from the water and wring out the excess water. If your garment is delicate then use an absorbent towel to roll it.

this is a photo of tall paul removing clothing from baking soda water to stretch it
this is a photo of wet clothing being rolled in an absorbent towel

5. Stretch the baking soda dampened clothing with your hands

Grab opposite sides of the garment with your hands, and proceed to gently pull and stretch the baking soda dampened garment.

this is a photo of tall paul stretching his clothing in baking soda dampness with his hands

6. Put the clothing back in the baking soda water and add more water

Put the clothing back into the baking soda water and add around 4-6 cups of water. It’s ok if you don’t get the exact amount, just eyeball it.

7. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the clothing in the baking soda water

Add one cup of white vinegar to the baking soda and water mix.

8. Soak the clothing for 45-60 min in the baking soda and vinegar water

Let the garment soak for 45 minutes to an hour.

9. Remove the clothing from the baking soda water and vinegar water

Remove the clothing from the water and wring the excess water out of the fabric until the item is slightly damp, and not soaking wet.

this is a photo of stretched clothing being removed from baking soda and vinegar water

10. Air dry the stretched clothing once done the baking soda and vinegar technique

Allow to air dry by hanging (line dry) or laying flat (dry flat) on an indoor drying rack.  Do not use the dryer.

this is a photo of stretched clothing being air dried

Baby shampoo

Total Time: 2 days

Cost: $0.30

  • Buy Johnson’s Baby Shampoo for $4.78

Using baby shampoo is a gentle way to stretch your clothes because it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. Use the baby shampoo method with garments made from cotton, cotton blends, wool, or knitted clothing.

1. Fill a basin with water for your baby shampoo

Fill a container, basin, or sink with lukewarm water for the baby shampoo to be added to.

2. Add 1 cup of baby shampoo to the water for stretching

Add one cup of baby shampoo to the water and mix until completely dissolved.

this is a photo of tall paul adding 1 cup of baby shampoo to water to stretch clothes

3. Submerge the clothing in the baby shampoo mixture

Submerge the clothing in the baby shampoo water mixture and let soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

this is a photo of tall paul submerging clothes into baby shampoo water

4. Agitate the clothing in the baby shampoo water with your hands

Use your hands to agitate and mix the garment in the water so that it can make plenty of contact with the baby shampoo.

this is a photo of tall paul agitating clothes in baby shampoo water to stretch them

5. Remove the clothing from the baby shampoo water

Remove from the container and wring out the excess water or roll in an absorbent towel.

this is a photo of tall paul removing clothing from baby shampoo water
this is a photo of clothing being rolled in absorbent towel

6. On a flat surface stretch the clothing

Lay the garment evenly on a flat surface. Stretch out the edges of the garment and hold them in place with heavy items.

this is a photo of tall paul stretching clothing on a flat surface

7. Leave the clothing where you have stretched it for 24 hours

Let the garment stay in place for 24 hours to dry and stretch. Repeat as necessary and hand wash the clothes again in water if the baby shampoo left a smell to them.

This is a photo of clothing being left to dry for 24 hours after it was stretched

Follow our other guides if you have a specific piece of clothing you need stretched.

FAQ

Using elbow grease is one of the most effective ways to loosen tight clothes. You can also use fabric softener, baby shampoo, or hair conditioner mixed with water, to help loosen your clothes. 

The fastest way to stretch clothes is by grabbing one end of the garment in each hand, and pulling. Do this all around the garment and you will likely have increased the size of the garment dramatically. 

Use fabric softener, baby shampoo, or hair conditioner mixed with water, to help stretch out clothes that are too small. 

If your shirt is made out of cotton the best way to stretch it is by using your hands and a little bit of elbow grease. Grab both ends of the shirt and pull with your hands in opposite directions.