Does It Work? Shrinking A Shirt

by 8:51 PM 0 comments
My oldest has Cub Scout day camp this week.  Thankfully, the Boy Scouts of America embraces families/siblings and almost always has a program for the little kids, called MeToo's.  Each MeToo also gets a camp shirt to wear just like their older siblings get.  The only problem is that my youngest is in a 2T, maybe 3T, t-shirt. The smallest shirt size they had was a Youth Small.  That's a HUGE difference in sizes so I knew I had to try something (anything) because my poor little was swimming in his shirt!
100% cotton, youth small t-shirt

J modeling his tent, ahem, shirt.
(The only way he'd hold still was to play with my tiny egg pan)
To compare, this is J's regular shirt on top of the camp shirt!
Google to the rescue!  I found step-by-step instructions on WikiHow to shrink a cotton shirt that seemed pretty straight forward.  I had nothing to lose, worst case scenario is J swims in his shirt all week!

Shrink By Boiling Method

Step One:

Using a large pot (I used I biggest one I own) bring water to a boil. I didn't use a wimpy, bubbling boil but a hard, rolling boil!

Wimpy Boil
Rolling Boil

Step Two:

Once the water was boiling, I removed it from the heat and put the shirt in the pot to soak.  The original article tells you how long to wait before submerging the shirt based on how much you want to shrink it.  Since we're going for a huge amount, I placed the shirt in right away.  Now we wait, at least 20 minutes, but according to the article, the longer the shirt is exposed to the hot water, the more it will shrink.  I waited 40 minutes in all, occasionally making sure to push the shirt back into the water with my tongs.
It's like a shirt hot tub!

Step Three:

Drain the water from the pot and let your shirt cool for a few minutes.  After 40 minutes the water has cooled significantly, but it's still incredibly hot.  I used tongs to manipulate the shirt at all times, even after letting it sit a while.
I used tongs to lift/hold the shirt as I drained the water.

Step Four: 

Now according to the article, you can wring the shirt and let it air dry at this point if you are satisfied with the results.  Knowing I have a whole lot of shirt to shrink, I also employed the second shrinking method using the washer and dryer.
Although the water was neon yellow (see the cup in the background) the shirt seems to have retained it's vibrant color.

The Result: 

Bear in mind, the shirt is still wet because I'm not done my attempt at shrinking, but this is the result from the boil method.  There is some difference; my oldest felt like it had shrunk significantly.  I can tell it does seem smaller, but I'm not sure by how much.

Results of boil method.

Shrink By Washer & Dryer Method

Step One: 

Wash the shirt in hot water.  Thankfully I had a few towels that needed washing too so I at least had a small load.  Washing just one thing in my machine drives me crazy, I think my mother instilled that in me.  :)  I did add another pot of boiling water to the washing machine since my husband had just taken a long, hot shower and our water heater is not exactly top of the line.  Supposedly, the combination of hot water and getting bumped around the machine helps to shrink the fabric.

It wasn't a full load, probably 3/4

Step Two: 

Throw that bad boy in the dryer.  Supposedly the agitation of the dryer is what really makes your fabric shrink, not a high heat.  Never the less, I had nothing to lose so I ran my dryer on high heat.  

Ready to dry!

The Result: 

The shirt is significantly faded, which happens after the abuse I've put this poor thing through.  That isn't something I'm worried about, at least not this time around.  It's only a camp shirt and much worse is going to happen to it than just some fading.  This was the final result, I'll do a side by side comparison and you be the judge.

My verdict?  It works if you need to shrink something a little bit, but trying to turn a youth shirt into toddler-wear is next to impossible.  Then again, I wasn't hoping for miracles, I just didn't want my son to look like he wasn't wearing any pants!

Jodi @ God Still Speaks

Head Writer

Boy mom of three. Married to the same man since 2002. Former working mom turned stay-at-home mom. I love my faith, family, and coffee.


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