Unshrink your favorite shirt with hair conditioner

Before giving up on a garment that has been shrunk, try to unshrink it.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
2 min read

You might be able to fix a damaged shirt.

Taylor Martin/CNET

At some point, everyone loses a garment to a damaging drying cycle. The shirt or pants that once fit perfectly now cling to your body a little too much.

It's easy to write it off as a loss and throw it in a pile of clothes destined for Goodwill. But there's a simple trick that can revive your now too-small garment, and all you need is some hair conditioner.

Conditioner relaxes the cotton fibers of the garment, allowing them to be stretched back to their original form. As a side effect, your unshrunk garment may also be softer than it originally was, but everything should return to normal after a few wash cycles.

How to unshrink your favorite shirt

    • Start by filling a sink with warm water and adding a tablespoon (14.8 milliliters) of conditioner. Thoroughly mix in the conditioner with your hand.
    • Place the shirt in the sink and work the conditioner into the shirt.
    • Leave it to sit in the sink for at least 30 minutes.
    • Pull the stopper to drain all the water out of the sink and wring out the shirt as best you can.
    • Lay the shirt out on a flat surface and begin stretching it in every direction.
    • Wash the shirt in a standard wash cycle or by hand to remove any remnants of conditioner.
    • After the wash, lay the shirt out flat to dry. If you hang the shirt, you will likely get unwanted bumps in the shoulders from the clothes hanger.

    Your shirt should now fit more like it originally did. If not, try repeating the process and stretching a bit more during conditioning.

    This trick should work for most garments -- including button downs, sweaters, dresses and others. For pants, instead of trying to stretch them by hand, put the pants on and wear them for approximately 30 minutes as you walk around, bend over, squat and sit in them to stretch them out.

    Now, try not to throw them in the dryer again.