Often after washing you may find that your favorite sweater had shrunk and become a smaller size. It happens because of improper treatment of items containing cotton or wool fibers. What to do to avoid this kind of thing, and how to stretch the shrunken garment?
Why clothes deform
To understand how you can restore the shape of the item that shrunk during laundry, and to avoid it shrinking in the future, you need to find out why clothes deform in the first place. Products made of wool and cotton fibers often shrink. These fibers can absorb a large amount of moisture, therefore they are easily deformed by water.
The threads that are filled with moisture soften and become easy to stretch or compress. Under the influence of high temperatures or aggressive detergents, which occur during machine washing, wool fibers are compressed, and that makes the garment shrink. The following factors can cause sweaters’ deformation after washing:
- incorrectly selected wash cycle;
- poor quality detergent;
- high water temperature;
- spin at high rpm.
To prevent your sweater shrinking during washing, wool and cotton items should be washed only by hand and in cool water. They should be dried flat without any special actions.
What should you do if your piece of clothing shrunk after machine washing? If a sweater was made from pure wool and shrunk a lot, and you also see pills forming on the surface, you probably won’t be able to revive it. But, if a sweater containing some wool fibers shrunk by one size, you can try to restore it to its original appearance.
You can try to stretch the shrunken wool sweater to its original size. This should be done in a wet state, when the fibers are softened. To stretch it, you should re-wash or steam the sweater first. Besides, such an item also needs to be dried correctly.
If wool clothing shrunk during washing, re-washing them can help. Pour cool water (about 30 degrees) into a basin and dissolve a mild detergent in it. It is better to use a special gel or liquid for washing wool items.
Put a wool sweater into the water for a few minutes so the fibers can absorb the solution. Then rinse the clothes well in clean water. You can use a fabric softener for wool. Special products will help the fibers become softer and restore their shape.
Take the item out of the basin without wringing it out. Then hang the sweater on a wide padded hanger. Wring lightly with your hands, without twisting the fabric, and gently stretch it in all directions. You will have to stretch the sweater a few more times while it dries. You should do it carefully, or you risk deforming the sweater in some other way.
There is a second method of drying a sweater that shrunk. After washing, let the water drain and lay the sweater down on a flat surface. Gently squeeze it with towels, twisting the woolen item between the towels. After that, stretch the wool sweater in all directions and leave to dry. Stretch it regularly during the drying process until it is completely dry.
Do not overstretch the sweater! If you stretch too hard, in the end, you will get a product with uneven edges and long sleeves.
If you knitted the sweater that shrunk yourself by hand, disassemble it into its parts, and then wash them separately. Pin the wet parts of the sweater to the pattern you used, and dry them flat in this position.
There is also a radical method of drying a wet product when a sweater that shrunk is put on. This method is not suitable for everyone, as walking in wet clothes for a long time is quite uncomfortable.
To return the original shape of a woolen piece of clothing, you can steam it. You need to wet the piece in cool water, squeeze it using a towel, and spread it out on the ironing board. Straighten the item out, and cover it with a dry cotton cloth.
Heat the iron and switch it to steam mode. Then treat the sweater with steam piece by piece, not touching it with iron. Try to stretch the sweater in all directions while steaming. It should be done very carefully, so you do not get burned by the steam. After the jacket takes the desired shape, leave it on the ironing board until it is completely dry.
Using chemical solutions
If a wool item shrunk after laundering, you can try to stretch it using chemicals. Alcoholic and acetic solutions soften the wool fibers and increase their elasticity. After using such solutions, it is easier to stretch the sweater.
Pour 5-6 liters of cold water into a basin. Add one tablespoon of vodka and turpentine each, then add three tablespoons of ammonia and mix. Put the sweater into this solution and soak for 40-50 minutes. After that, you can squeeze the product with a towel and start to stretch. Lay the wool item flat to dry.
This mixture can be replaced with a solution of hydrogen peroxide. Dilute two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide in 10 liters of cold water. Mix well and put the sweater into the solution. Wait for 30-40 minutes, then proceed as in the previous paragraph.
In case your sweater stretched after washing or in the process of wear, you can restore the previous appearance with the help of re-washing, too. Use detergents with properties that are suitable for the item. Wash the item using detergents, gently squeeze and spread out on a flat surface, forming the desired shape.
To avoid problems described above, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations mentioned on the item’s fabric care label. It will help to preserve the original appearance of wool clothes for a long time.