How to Shrink Polyester Shirt In Washing Machine

This is a guide about how to shrink polyester shirts in the washing machine.

” I cannot wear it anymore “

I think the neck size is too large, and also around the waist.  In addition, there’s somebody volume on my chest that bothers me.

In addition, this white thick dress shirt does not hang loosely like a vintage cloth.  It looks more like a pattern of formal shirts than anything else. Also, since we did not change anything for several years, we will need to restore its original form .

The washing machine shrinks all clothes so we can use them with tight neck and waist again by washing it one time! Moreover, even your beloved sewing pants or denim jeans can be restored by washing them once.

What We Will Need?

We will need 2-3 days since the time of shrinking is different depending on the thickness and size. The clothes become thin, so it’s an advantage that we can use less laundry powder as well! Let’s take care of your favourite clothes!

Shirt that you want to shrink must be 100%cotton or 60% cotton, 40 % polyester

Machine-washable cotton will lose softness.  Before starting the process, I recommend you use a fabric conditioner so that it can restore its original form after washing.


1. Do not use a dryer or iron at all!

This method uses a washing machine to make shrunken clothes! You might be surprised by seeing the result but please do not try to repeat this process any more than necessary to avoid damages on fabric and seams.

Fabric and seams might get weak and come off especially if you wash it many times because they are now shortened by one size.

The fabric texture becomes stiffer and colour becomes deeper!  

But the cloth becomes thinner than its former state. Stiff fabric wears great with a modern look!

As I said before, do not put this shirt in the dryer or iron it because you might damage the fabric to make it thin even more! You can use natural air flow by hanging your newly shrunken clothes on hangers.

2. Do not wash bed sheets, curtains etc.

Please read labels on fabric materials before washing them by machine! Some synthetic fabrics cannot be washed well if they are put into washing machines, so check their labels before starting process! Normally, synthetic fabrics are wrinkle-free. This method is only suitable for natural fabrics like cotton or linen.

3. Please wash your newly shrunken clothes alone so that the rest of the laundry will not be affected by shrinking! Shrinkage can also affect other clothes in the washing machines because it shrinks quickly until the fabric becomes thin and stiff, so please wash them separately!

How to Shrink Cotton Shirt: Step By Step

Step 1. Put your shrunken clothes in a washing machine filled up to the top with water. Please check the gauge of your washing machine for its maximum capacity as well as how much laundry powder you will need.

Step 2. Put a fabric conditioner into the load! It can restore fabric stiffness and softness after the shrinking process , so it is very important step.  

Also, if you have a large amount of laundry that needs a lot of laundry powder, you might consider putting a small amount into each load because this time we are going to use less quantity from now on until it shrinks 1-2 sizes smaller .

Step 3. Set your washing machine at “Cold” or “Warm”. You can test different settings such as 40 degrees, 60 degrees, etc. All is okay as long as you use cold setting  because shrinking fabric will be fast and easy!

Step 4. If your laundry powder cost a lot or it’s a small amount , please choose a smaller quantity for this time so that the clothes will shrink quickly.

I recommend using one scoop of laundry powder per washing machine load if possible.

 If you have big amount of laundry to wash by machine, then three or four scoops might be necessary.

Step 5. After filling up the washing machine with water and set it at cold setting, add your shrunken shirt into the washing machine now!

Add about 1 cup of laundry powder including fabric conditioner after putting your shirt into the load.

If you choose the three-step washing machine process , just leave it at “Warm” and put everything in together! Water will become cloudy and bubbles will form very quickly.

Step 6. Please do not touch your clothes until the end of process ! If you use fabric conditioner beforehand, it can be shrunk within 10 minutes!

However, if you use only one scoop laundry powder including fabric conditioner for this time, please let it shrink about 1 hour.

The time can vary depending on water temperature and quantity of laundry powder that we put in .

Step 7. And then push the button for “Rinse”. It is important to wash off remaining detergent completely because they might cause discomfort when you wear them .  When the washing machine goes into spinning, your clothes will shrink even more!

Step 8. If you want to shrink cotton shirt in one-step process , do not add fabric conditioner in this time.

You can try another method after shrinking it with 40 degree Celsius water without adding laundry powder and fabric conditioner except for the first cycle in step 4.

It is important to check labels on fabrics before doing a certain way of washing them because some fabrics cannot withstand too much heat or they might be damaged by using hot temperatures altogether!

Step 9. After rinsing, put your shrunken shirt into the dryer if possible.

Tumble dry low setting until there is no humidity left! It’s a very important step to dry your shirts until they are stiff and rough because they will shrink further.  

If you want to iron them, please set the temperature as low as possible!

Step 10. Finally, try on your mini-sized shirt and enjoy!!

NOTE: If you feel that the shrinking is slow or there is no change after drying, please put it into a washing machine without a fabric conditioner or use a fabric softener for one-step process to have better results!

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