How to Get a Sweater to Shrink Without Drying It

Many people have experienced pulling a favorite sweater from the dryer, only to find that it has shrunk. Experienced launderers know that tumble-drying can shrink both cotton and wool clothing. You can purposely shrink too-large clothing in the dryer, but the high heat may damage cotton by lowering the hardiness of the fibers. Using the washer alone may also allow you to shrink a sweater without these damaging effects, if hot water is used. The heat creates the shrinking effect in both types of fabric, and wool shrinks from dampness and agitation, as well.

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Heat causes felting in wool sweaters, which leads to shrinkage.

Step 1

Set the temperature on the washing machine as hot as possible, since heat increases the chances of shrinkage for both wool and cotton fabrics.

Step 2

Use a setting with high agitation to increase the chances of shrinking your wool sweater, since such action causes the material to cling together more tightly.

Step 3

Lay the sweater out flat to dry. Avoid stretching the garment, since that will stretch the fibers back out.