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Can you reverse shrinkage in clothing?

March 13, 2019

Depending on the fabric, it is sometimes possible to unshrink garments.  For washable fabrics like cotton, you can try soaking the garment in white vinegar for an hour and then wash it in hot water. If that doesn’t work, try stretching the wet garment by hand until it is the original size. Then hold it down with heavy objects and let it dry flat.

For dry clean only garments, we will use a process called “blocking” to restore the garment to its original shape. This is basically a process of repeatedly steaming and stretching the garment to relax the fibers.

Blocking is also applied when we clean your knit sweaters. All knits distort with both wearing and cleaning. We measure your garment before cleaning to make sure it is in the original shape after cleaning.

We would like to share this video that demonstrates how to unshrink a wool sweater.  If this is too much work for you, remember that we are here to help. Just call us at 617-523-8414 for free laundry pickup and delivery or bring your shrunk garments to us at one of our dry cleaning locations.

How to Prevent Clothes From Shrinking

Now that we have taken care of the shrunk clothing, we should talk about how to prevent clothes from shrinking in the first place.

Why do clothes shrink? Depending on the type of fabric and how the garment was made, clothes can shrink for various reasons. Generally speaking, natural fibers are able to stretch more than man-made fibers and therefore more prone to shrinking. So we recommend to buy natural fiber garments that are labeled as “preshrunk”. Also, fabric is usually made of materials that are woven or knitted together by a machine. Woven fabrics are generally more stable to shrinkage factors than knitted fabrics.

There are some simple wash and dry methods to help prevent your clothes from shrinking.

  • Wash with cold water:  Cold water can be less damaging to your clothes. Hot water can cause your clothing to relax which will result in shrinking.
  • Air dry:  Instead of using the dryer, consider hanging up your clothes to dry. Stay away from direct sunlight.
  • Spin on gentle cycle: Clothing can shrink due to agitation and heat. The gentle cycle will help keep the fabric of your clothes in shape.  Alternatively, the “tumble” setting will spin dry your clothes using only motion, not heat.
  • Hand wash in cool water with a gentle detergent using very little agitation or wringing action.
  • Following the cleaning labels.

For clothes made of natural fibers, such as wool, we recommend dry cleaning.  It’s the best way to avoid shrinking your favorite garments.  At Utopia Cleaners, we use an eco-friendly dry cleaning method called Green Earth Technology which does not involve chemicals. The solvent is liquid silicone, which is essentially sand, and it is applied in vapor form. Thus, your clothes are treated very gently, so gently that even bead and sequins will not be damaged. We can also clean your clothing using wet cleaning, which uses new, gentle washing methods and biodegradable soaps and conditioners to ensure your clothes are properly cleaned.

Prevent your favorite garments from being shrunk by inappropriate cleaning methods. Bring them to Utopia Cleaners! Call 617-695-3778 for free dry cleaning pickup and delivery or bring your garments to one of our dry cleaning stores in Boston.