How to Shrink a Shirt to the Perfect Size

Whether you’re exploring the latest vintage shop or snagging your latest find in the men’s section, one thing is certain: The perfect T-shirt is not always the perfect size. Fitted graphic tees and crop tops continue to dominate some our favorite in-the-moment looks—which means that your oversize tee may require a little work. Luckily, shrinking a shirt is a lot easier than you may think, and bringing your favorite tee down a size can be achieved in just a couple hours. As long as your oversize T-shirt is made from cotton (and isn’t already pre-shrunk), these helpful tips are well worth giving a try.

Continue on to discover exactly how to shrink a shirt in two simple ways.

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The Boiling Method

There are a couple of effective methods for shrinking a shirt, and one of the easiest is by boiling it. Simply heat up a pot of water, then shut off the stove as soon as it reaches a boil. Drop the T-shirt in the water immediately and let it sit for about five minutes.

If you’re looking for a more serious degree of shrinkage, you can leave the shirt in the water for up to 20 minutes. The longer the shirt is left in the water, the further it will shrink, but obviously, there’s a limit to this magic. Most shirts will only shrink up to a maximum of 20% in size.

Once you’re finished soaking the shirt, remove it from the water using a pair of tongs or a wooden spoon. Once the shirt has cooled off enough to touch, wring it out and examine your progress. The boiling process can be repeated as many times as you need to achieve the desired results.

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The Washer/Dryer Method

As you may have at one point discovered accidentally, shrinking a shirt may be as simple as cranking up the heat in your washer and dryer. First, wash the shirt on the hottest setting your washing machine will allow. If you’re washing your shirt with other items, make sure to only include similar colors, and avoid anything that’s likely to bleed.

Be sure to turn graphic tees inside out, and beware of fragile or vintage tees: This method of washing can be damaging to thin or delicate fabrics. Next, run your shirt through the dryer on the hottest setting.

Final Words of Wisdom

Knowing how to shrink a shirt can be a brilliant way to customize your closet, but be careful: Ultra-high heat can be tough on fabrics, so shrink with caution. Be sure to try on your tee between rounds of shrinking to ensure the perfect fit, and you’ll be ready to show off your favorite new (old) T-shirt in no time.

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Shop T-shirts you (hopefully) won't have to shrink:

Up next, get inspired by 96 ways to style a white T-shirt.

This story posted at an earlier date and has been updated.