Fashion & Style

How to Shrink a Shirt to Get The Perfect Fit: Our 6 Favorite Methods in 2022

Can we collectively agree that baggy, ill-fitting shirts are simply not a good look anymore? Yes, there was once a time when a t-shirt could hang down to your knees, but those days are behind us (thank god), and now we’re more in favor of clothing that fits properly. 

So if you’ve found yourself with a collection of unflattering tops in need of some twenty-first century TLC, here’s how to shrink a shirt in half a dozen different ways. 

Stuck with a baggy top instead of a form-fitting shirt? Learn how to shrink a shirt and keep it down to the perfect size. 

What You’ll Need

shirt laying on a wicker chair
waxlondonclothing / Instagram

1. How to Shrink a Shirt in the Dryer

Perhaps the easiest method of how to make a shirt shrink is to pop it in the dryer and forget about it. Wash your shirt at a high temperature, and then toss it into the dryer on high heat. Now sit back and let the dryer do the rest of the work. 

However, it’s worth noting that this method isn’t effective for delicate clothing or shirts made of sensitive material. If you’d like to shrink dress shirts or linen summer shirts, for example, set the heat to a lower setting and let it tumble dry instead of hanging. 

2. How to Shrink a Shirt in the Washer

A little-known fact is you can actually shrink a shirt in the washer, in addition to the dryer. To shrink a shirt in the washing machine, set the water to the highest heat and run the cycle. Just be sure to wash your items with similar colors, or you risk having the dyes bleed together. Also, remember to only wash what you wish to shrink. Otherwise, your favorite pair of trousers may end up a few sizes too small. 

Man steam ironing a white shirt
Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels

3. How to Shrink a Shirt in Hot Water

This old-fashioned method of how to make a shirt shrink is certainly among the best. Simply bring a large pot of water to boil over the stove and cut the heat as soon as the water bubbles. Carefully place your shirt into the pot of hot water and cover it with a lid for at least five minutes. 

Once the time is up, remove the pot lid, pull out the shirt with a long pair of tongs, and inspect the new size. If it needs to shrink further, repeat the processes as many times as necessary. Eventually, you’ll end up with a perfectly shrunken shirt. 

4. How to Shrink a Shirt Without Washing It

If you’d rather skip the washing part of how to shrink a shirt, consider ironing it down for a better fit. Instead of suffering through uncontrollably high heat, using a high-quality iron will allow you to get a more accurate downsize since you can regulate the amount of warmth the garment receives. 

Wondering how to make a shirt shrink with an iron? Simply dampen it with a spray bottle or quickly submerge it in warm water. Then, heat up your iron and move it across the shirt until it’s completely dry. Since you’ve just dampened it, this may take some time, so be patient and ensure you move the iron constantly to prevent singeing the fabric. The heat should reduce the shirt’s size, all without washing it. 

man wearing shirt and pants sitting back in a chair
waxlondonclothing / Instagram

5. How to Slightly Shrink a Shirt

If you only wish to shrink a shirt a bit, the best way to achieve this is to use the boiling water method. While it typically takes several rounds to shrink a shirt multiple sizes, submerging it in hot water once or twice for five minutes at a time gives you more control over how much it shrinks.  

6. How to Shrink a Shirt with a Hair Dryer

If all else fails, grab the closest hair dryer and get to work. To shrink a shirt with a hair dryer, wash it on the highest heat setting first and then spread the shirt out on a flat surface. Next, set the hair dryer to the highest heat setting and dry one part of the shirt at a time. This will take some time but should result in even shrinkage if you don’t have a dryer. 

Still have some lingering questions? Here’s how to shrink different types of shirts for men.

gold clothing rack with t-shirts hanging off them
waxlondonclothing / Instagram


    • Cotton is generally the simplest fabric to shrink as the fibers relax easily. In fact, you’ve likely shrunken a cotton shirt inadvertently and then cursed yourself for washing it on such high heat.

      But if you’re intentionally trying to shrink a cotton shirt, you can do this in a few ways. The easiest is to wash it on high heat and then pop it in the dryer on the highest setting. This can cause a cotton shirt to shrink up to 20% if it hasn’t been pre-shrunk.

      If you’d like a more controlled method of shrinking a cotton shirt, consider the boiling water or blow dryer method that you can repeat until you achieve your desired fit.

      • Polyester can be a bit finicky, but it’s surprisingly easy to shrink. Similar to cotton, wash the garment in hot water and then dry it on a high heat setting. 

        If you’re worried about damaging the fabric from excessive heat, try the boiling water method for five minutes at a time or ironing the shirt to only shrink it a bit.

        • While you typically want to avoid heat on Dri-FIT clothing, this can be an effective way to shrink a shirt. However, before going wild with the heat settings on your laundry machine, check out the material of your Dri-FIT shirt to prevent damage. 

          Cotton Dri-FIT shirts can easily be thrown in the dryer to shrink, while polyester or polyester blends should be washed in hot water first. Once the garment is nice and warmed up from the washing machine, toss it in the dryer on high heat to shrink it further. 

          Just remember to turn the shirt inside out if it’s a synthetic fabric to keep the colors vibrant and fresh.

          • To shrink a shirt with print, the most important thing to remember is to turn the shirt inside out before proceeding. Once the print is tucked inside, wash it on a cold setting to get it nice and saturated. Avoid washing the shirt in hot water, as this may cause the print’s colors to run or fade.

            Afterward, crank up the heat on your dryer and let the machine do the rest of the work. Your shirt should come out in a smaller size with the print still intact.

            • The best way to shrink a men’s dress shirt is with the boiling water method, as dress shirts are typically made with more delicate materials. Tossing it into the washer or dryer is a gamble as they can be too violent for this type of shirt.

              Instead, the hot water stovetop method will allow you to carefully monitor your dress shirt to get the perfect fit. If it’s still not small enough after the first round in boiling water, repeat the processes until you achieve the desired size, and then hang it to dry.

              Alternatively, you can also shrink a dress shirt by ironing it down, though this takes careful attention to detail and may result in burn marks if you aren’t watching it closely.

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