As we move into colder, wetter months you may be using appliances like a dryer more frequently and therefore run the risk of shrinking a wardrobe favourite. Here’s how to avoid ruining your clothes — and how you might be able to undo the shrinking if it’s too late and bring your clothes back from the shrink.
In the washing machine
Before washing your clothes, always double-check the care label if one is attached to the fabric. You should wash any shrink-prone clothes in cold water as high temperatures can damage the fabric and cause shrinking. Similarly, if fabrics like cotton, linen or wool are washed too vigorously it can cause the fibers to tighten together. Delicate cycles are key to protecting fabric: avoid heavy-duty cycles and fast spins and for extra protection place delicate clothes in a mesh laundry bag.
The simplest way to avoid shrinking any fabric while drying your clothes is to air dry them on a washing line or clotheshorse. As well as avoiding shrinkage, this drying method is also environmentally friendly and pocket-friendly. If that is not possible and you are using a dryer, use low heat settings and don’t leave them in the machine for longer than necessary. Exposing your clothes to long cycles of high heat in the dryer or overdrying the fabric in the machine can damage it and cause clothes to shrink.
How to unshrink clothes
If you accidentally shrunk your clothes, washing machine manufacturer Whirlpool has shared a tip to undo the damage, and you only need to reach for your hair conditioner. Soaking garments in lukewarm water with a couple of tablespoons of hair conditioner. added can improve the fabric’s shape. Soak it for half an hour in the mixture before removing and wring out as much water as possible. Place the item on a towel and roll it up to remove any excess water. Unroll and stretch the garment as much as you can. Allow it to air dry and you should see an improvement. You should note that this step will not always work as some fabrics, like wool, cannot be returned to their previous state.