How to unshrink your clothes

2 min read

We have all been there. You are pulling a treasured or high-quality clothing item from the washing machine and find that it now fits a small child rather than an adult, but don’t despair! It doesn’t have to be the end for that Irish fishermans sweater or your favourite pair of warm socks, as there are solutions to shrunken items of clothing.

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Taking care of good quality clothing items is one of the best ways we can reduce our impact on the environment and avoid getting wrapped up in the fast fashion doom cycle that is contributing to the triple planetary crisis It is inevitable that there will be mishaps and you may need to either replace items, hopefully after many years, or you can learn a new skill by unshrinking clothing, learning to sew, or even upcycling clothing. Grab that Irish fishermans sweater and let’s learn how to unshrink woollen clothes.

Why did your item shrink?

The main culprit is likely to be heat, which natural fibres are not a fan of. This is because they have shorter fibres that are slightly less stable when introduced to warm water. You should always wash cotton and wool on a cool cycle.

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Unshrinking natural fibres

Put around eight litres of lukewarm – definitely no hotter than this – water in a bucket. If you have more than one item, repeat this process each time. Dissolve a tablespoon of high-quality hair conditioner with no silicones or sulphates in the water, then fully submerge the item in the water and leave it for about 30 minutes. Rinse the conditioner out of the item – a shower head is probably easiest here – and gently stretch the item back to size. Finally, hang it up to dry.

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