Did you recently buy a t-shirt that is too big for you but is also so stylish that you don’t want to toss it in the bin? You don’t have to give it away or tuck it in your jeans if it’s too large. You also don’t need to go to the tailor to get it altered. Instead, you can shrink the t-shirt to fit you in the comfort of your home. Using heat on a t-shirt can shrink it a few sizes.

It is easy to shrink a shirt back to original size and shape especially if the t-shirt you bought is 100% cotton as different fabrics take different amounts of time to shrink. However, it might be a bit tricky to shrink a t-shirt that is pre-shrunk. Moreover, a lot of heat can damage your favorite t-shirt so you need to be careful when shrinking it. The following are two ways to shrink a t-shirt that is too large for you. Once you know how to shrink t-shirts, you can easily create a closet full of customized clothes for different occasions.

How to shrink a t-Shirt using a washing machine?

Step One: Wash the T-shirt

Put it into the washing machine and wash it on ‘HOT/HOT’ or the hottest temperature setting. It is actually the movement inside the washing machine that shrinks the t-shirt. A top load washing machine causes more agitation and movement and so, causes more shrinkage than front-load washing machines. You can put some other pieces of clothing you want to shrink with the t-shirt but be sure that they are all of the same or similar colors.

Step Two: Dry the T-shirt

Once the washing cycle is complete, dry it on high heat or medium to high-temperature setting in your dryer. You don’t have to give a lot of heat during drying to shrink the t-shirt because shrinkage is caused by movement. For a vintage or delicate t-shirts, don’t use very high-temperature settings to dry as this can damage them. 

That is all you need to do for shrinking your t-shirt using a washing machine. Now you can enjoy your perfect fitting t-shirt. Machine washing and drying the t-shirt for the first time can shrink it by 20%. However, it can also make the t-shirt lose its brand-new look and feel. This is because the tumbling action in the washing machine raises the small fibers and gives them a faded and powdery look.

How to shrink a t-shirt using hot water?

Step One: Boil the Water

For using hot water to shrink a t-shirt you firstly need to take a pot full of water and boil it.

Step Two: Put the shirt in the boiled water

Once the water starts boiling in the pot, turn off the heat and place the t-shirt in it. Generally, the warmer the water, the more the t-shirt will shrink. Basically, apparel companies stretch the fabric to make a shirt so that less fabric is used. Putting the t-shirt in warm or hot water shrinks it back to its natural size. If you want to shrink the t-shirt by 1-2 sizes, then put it in the water immediately you take it off the heat. For shrinking the t-shirt by up to 1 size, wait for 5 minutes before putting the t-shirt in the water. 

Step Three: Keep the t-shirt soaked in the water

Leave the t-shirt in the water for about 20 minutes. The longer you put the t-shirt in water the more it will shrink. So, you can leave it for more or less time in the hot water depending on its size and how much you want to shrink it.

Step Four: Drain the Water

When you think that the t-shirt has been submerged in the hot water for an appropriate amount of time, drain the water and remove the t-shirt with a pair of tongs. Use thick gloves or pot-holders to drain the water so that you don’t burn yourself while doing so.

Step Five: Dry the shirt

Depending on the size of the t-shirt, use a dryer or wring it out to dry it. If you want to shrink the t-shirt slightly, wring it out and let it air dry. To shrink the t-shirt by 2 or more sizes, use a dryer so that the tumbling action can further shrink it.

To get the best results from shrinking a t-shirt, go through our answers for some queries about the process below.

How long does it take to shrink a t-shirt?

It takes about 15-20 minutes plus drying time to shrink any fabric whether you use a washing machine or place it in a pot of boiling water. If you want to shrink the shirt more then you will need more time to do so. That is because the more heat you apply to the shirt, the more it will shrink.

How do I shrink a shirt without damaging it?

You can follow a few tips to ensure that your t-shirt does not fade or get damaged while you are trying to shrink it.

Firstly, you need to turn the t-shirt inside out before shrinking it so that the pattern on the outer side is not damaged or does not get faded.

Secondly, don’t shrink a t-shirt or any garment more than once. This is because the more heat you will apply to the fabric, the faster it will fade.

Thirdly, don’t dry the t-shirt directly in the sunlight. This will cause it to fade and it won’t give a brand-new look.

Finally, add a cup of vinegar in water when shrinking. This will keep the color of the t-shirt from fading or bleeding out.

Can you shrink a t-shirt by just drying it?

You need to machine wash the t-shirt or soak it in a pot full of hot water before drying to shrink it. That’s because the heat is what causes the fabric to shrink. Only drying the t-shirt might not give very good results as far as shrinking it to your exact size is concerned.

Disclaimer: Content Research, Product Opinion & Publication Process

The articles, cosmetic tutorials, and beauty tips on SheBegan magazine are contributed by experienced fashion professionals, beauty & cosmetics experts. The team of our beauty and cosmetics professionals tests the products and then share the outcomes with proper citations and then after passing all the research & editorial checks; the content is sent live making sure there exists No Conflict of Interest. You can read about our authors, volunteers, team members and editorial board with our content review, product testing, tutorial guidance process here.


Suhira heads the editorial department of SheBegan Magazine. She joined SheBegan Magazine as an author in 2017, and her writings also appeared on cosmopolitan, lifefalcon and other mags. Suhira loves to write on wellness-related topics, skin/hair/beauty tips, relationship advice topics, and bridal grooming niche. Later, in 2019, she became the head of our editorial board and also holds the position of Growth analyst. Having had sufficient experience with fitness and nutritional balance. Suhira has worked as a fitness trainer at local Gyms, we utilize her experience in our fitness and nutritional recommendations.

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