How to Unshrink a Sweater in 5 Easy Steps

woman wearing a shrunken sweater

Confession time: We love sweater weather. Hey, there aren’t many items in our closet that manage to be cozy, stylish and snug all at the same time. Which is why it’s such a bummer when your favorite woolly jumper shrinks down to child size because someone (OK, fine it was us) accidentally put it in the dryer. Oops. But don’t toss that chunky knit just yet. Here’s how to unshrink a sweater in five easy steps. 

1. Prepare the Sink:

Fill the sink with lukewarm water and add about 1 tablespoon of hair conditioner or baby shampoo (add more if your garment is seriously shrunken).

2. Soak:

Add your too-small garment and let it soak in the water for about 30 minutes.

3. Get Rid of Excess Water:

Drain the water from the sink and gently squeeze the excess water out of the sweater (but don’t rinse or twist it). Tip: Lightly press the sweater against the sink to force out the water.

4. Roll:

Put a thick cotton towel down on a flat surface (like the floor or a counter) and lay the sweater over it. Roll the towel, with the sweater in it, into a jelly-roll shape to absorb the water.

5. Stretch Gently:

While the sweater is damp, gently (easy does it) stretch it back into its original shape. Allow it to air-dry, and that’s it: sweater unshrunk. (If your sweater’s in really bad shape, keep it on a flat surface and gently stretch it out every 30 minutes while it dries.) 

Why this works:

The conditioner softens and relaxes the clothing’s fibers, making them flexible enough to re-shape. Easy-peasy. (But um, hand wash your knits in cool water next time, OK?) 

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...