Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Un-Shrink your Clothes

If you read any of my OOTD posts then you know I am obsessed with Banana Republic's Sloan skinny ankle pants. I own them in three colors (black, navy, and khaki) and I love them to pieces. They are without a doubt my favorite work pants. Sometimes I wear the black ones out, too.  I've tried many skinny pants and these really are the best. They fit perfectly. The material is crazy good quality. They come in three lengths so I can buy the shorts and not have to have them hemmed. The only thing I don't love about these pants is that they are dry clean only.
This is a little bit of a problem for me as I work with a room full of germy children on a daily basis. I also own the capri version which can be machine washed and laid flat to dry. So that's what I've been doing with my skinny pants as well - it would cost me a fortune to dry clean them each week. I wash them on delicate (which is how I wash all of my clothes actually) and then I lay them flat to dry. This has been working well for a really long time. Until a couple weeks ago, when I forgot to pull them out of the laundry before I plopped it in the dryer. Oops.

I didn't think anything of it until I was getting ready for work a few mornings later and was pulling them on and noticed they were a little, um, snug. My first thought was that I must be gaining weight and I instantly regretted the Italian food we'd had for dinner over the weekend. Then, I noticed that they were shorter, too, and that's when I'd realized that I'd accidentally dried them. I changed into another pair of pants for work and then came home later and tried to stretch them out doing lunges and butterfly stretches but nothing worked. I tossed them in the closet and pouted. Then, over Memorial Day weekend BR threw a huge 35% off sale so I decided I could just buy another pair. I put them in my cart and applied the promo code but couldn't help steaming over the fact that they would still cost almost $60. The pants are well worth the money but it really irked me that I was going to have to re-buy a pair of pants I already owned. So I did the only logical thing I could think of and turned to Google.

It turns out it is actually possible to un-shrink an item of clothing. I crossed my fingers and gave it a try and then waited impatiently for 12 hours until they were dry so I could try them on. And guess what? It worked -what a relief! Since I didn't have to purchase the khaki again, I'm contemplating getting them in another color. There's a really pretty blue color and they just became available in hot pink.

Here's the how-to (in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation):
1. Fill the sink or a large bowl with room temperature water. Don't use cold water but its also important not to use hot water because heat is what causes clothes to shrink. Somewhere in the middle is perfect.

2. Add a tablespoon of conditioner. This loosens up the fibers in the material. 

3. Soak your item, making sure it is fully saturated with the conditioner-water. I let my pants soak for about 10 minutes. 

4. Lay the item flat on a towel to remove excess water. It is ok to squeeze a little excess water out but don't wring the item. 

5. Stetch, stretch, stretch. Do this slowly. Stretch outwards and downwards at the seams, making sure to do this evenly all over the garment. 

6. Rinse. Again, making sure the temperature of the water isn't too hot or too cold. Don't wring!

7. Lay flat to dry. It will most likely take the item overnight to dry. Just be patient during this time. 

8. Style the item with a cute outfit because you'll be able to wear it again! Yay!


  1. Oh my gosh this is so smart. I need to do this with a pair of my J. Crew minnie pants that Kevin so kindly shrunk.

  2. Love that you posted this because I had to search for the same thing last week! It really does work!

  3. What an awesome tip!!! Thank you!!!!

  4. Hi, can I put it in the washer to rinse?

    1. I have only handwashed after doing this. I'm sure you could put it in on cold water only on the delicate cycle. Just make sure not to expose the fabric to heat again.

  5. Hi Elizabeth, I just did this to my blacks sloans yesterday and I'm devastated. Did the full length return?

    1. They are not 100% like they were before but I'd say about 90%, which I can live with to save from purchasing a replacement pair. Definitely worth a try!

  6. Which condidtioner did you use?


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