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How To Shrink A Hoodie

Do you own a favorite hoodie given to you by a boyfriend or bought from a band you used to love? Everyone loves the cozy, hooded comfort of these baggy sweatshirts, but sometimes these roomie garments can get a bit too baggy! If you struggle with hoodies that swallow you up, you can easily learn how to shrink a hoodie to get it to just the right size.

The best way to shrink a hoodie is to wash it in hot water or to run it through a long tumble dry session in the dryer. For more extreme shrinking, some hoodies can withstand submersion in boiling water. Other methods include using an iron or a hairdryer to shrink portions of a hoodie with more precision.

In this article, you will learn what makes clothing shrink. You will discover eight simple ways to shrink a hoodie. Finally, you will find tips on how to shrink a hoodie without damaging the design.

How To Shrink A Hoodie

Can You Alter a Hoodie to Be Smaller?

Most of the time you can quite easily shrink a hoodie by a couple of sizes, but this does depend on the type of fibers in its fabric. Many hoodies contain a knit fleece that has one smooth, knitted side and one fleecy, velvety side. This fabric typically contains 100% cotton, polyester, or a 50/50 blend of these materials.

If you check the manufacturer’s label inside your sweatshirt and discover that it contains any of these three material types, you’re all good! You can shrink these types of fabric without too much trouble–most of the time.

The exception to this rule is something called preshrunk clothing. These days, many manufacturers put the fabric through massive factory machines called compactors that cause the fibers inside the material to contract. This simulates the shrinking that often takes place when you first wash a new piece of clothing.

If your sweatshirt has gone through this preshrinking process, you probably will not succeed in reducing it much more. On the bright side, though, manufacturers use this treatment more often on t-shirts than on sweatshirts!

So, what hoodie material will not shrink at all? Some hoodies have more of a slinky appearance and contain spandex. Others have a fuzzy velvet surface.

Sportswear hoodies, in particular, may fall into this category. These will not shrink, and trying to make them smaller will damage the fabric. Velvety velour hoodies also will not shrink easily.

Now that you know a bit about hoodie fabric, check out these eight basic methods to shrink your sweatshirt!

How to Shrink a Hoodie: 8 Easy Methods

Most of the time, heat and moisture will cause a hoodie to shrink. The methods described here mostly use some form of these elements to shrink either the whole garment or a portion of it by one to two sizes.

If you ever find yourself wondering how to shrink clothes that are too big just in general, you can apply these methods to most types of clothing successfully!

The only exception to the heat and moisture rule is to alter the garment rather than contract its fibers. You will find this method included at the end because it is the only way to make a hoodie more than one to two sizes smaller. Shrinking will usually remove about a half-inch to an inch of material from the width of your garment but will not do much more than that.

1. Washer

How to shrink a sweatshirt

The easiest way to shrink your hoodie is to put it in the wash.

You don’t often need to wash a sweatshirt, as it usually serves as outerwear and does not get sweaty or gross as easily as a shirt or pants. As a pro tip, if you do need to wash a hoodie under normal circumstances, you should always use cold water and an air-dry method to avoid making the inside of the fleece all matted.

  1. Put your hoodie in the washer by itself. Some material will bleed dye when exposed to hot water, and you don’t want to damage other garments! Plus, you don’t want to accidentally shrink any other clothing during this process.
  2. Next, set your washer to a hot water setting, and select a delicate or permanent press cycle. Add a normal amount of detergent.
  3. Run the full wash and rinse cycles.
  4. Remove the damp garment from the washing machine and let it air dry. If you have a sweater drying rack, smooth it out flat on that. If not, drape it over a shower curtain rod. You don’t want to put it on a hanger, which could cause the shoulder to poke out oddly.

Once the hoodie dries fully, try it on and see if it fits more snuggly! If you still find it uncomfortably loose, you can combine the washer method with the dryer method described below.

2. Dryer

Putting a wet hoodie in the dryer will almost certainly cause it to shrink a much as two sizes, at least the first time you try it! After that, additional shrinking may seem minimal.

If you do not want to shrink your hoodie, never put it in the dryer. Let it air dry after washing. This will also preserve the fluffy fleece inside it!

Of course, if you do want to shrink the hoodie, go for it!

  1. First, use either the washing machine or the boiling water method. This will leave you with a damp hoodie.
  2. Place the damp sweatshirt in the dryer.
  3. Set the dryer to a full tumble dry setting.
  4. If you want the hoodie to shrink as much as twenty percent, allow it to run all the way through this cycle. The tumbling and heat together will cause fibers to contract and shrink the garment overall.
  5. If you only want it to shrink a little, take it out halfway through the dryer cycle and let it finish drying by draping it over your shower curtain rod.

3. Boiling Water

The absolute most dramatic way to shrink your hoodie is to place it in boiling water. While not the easiest of methods because you have to deal with a giant pot of boiling water, this method proves highly effective. You should only try this if you really, really want your hoodie to shrink as much as it possibly can!

  1. Fill a large part two-thirds full of water and place it on your stove. You need a pot big enough to fit several gallons of water and the bulk of your hoodie.
  2. Bring the water to a boil. You may have to wait a few minutes to get the frothy bubbles that indicate a rolling boil with this much water.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and use two long-handled spoons or salad tongs to submerge your hoodie in the water.
  4. For significant shrinking, let the garment soak for five minutes. For more extreme shrinking, let it sit for ten minutes.
  5. Carry the pot to your kitchen sink, being careful not to splash yourself.
  6. Use the spoons or tongs to lift the hot sweatshirt out into a clean bowl. Let it cool down until you can safely touch it.
  7. Use your hands to press out some of the water. You should not wring out the hoodie, as this could stretch it out again. It could also damage the printed design.
  8. Spread the hoodie onto a large, clean bath towel. Roll up the towel with the hoodie inside, and press on the roll to get most of the water out.
  9. Next, you can place the damp hoodie in the dryer to make sure you have shrunk it as much as possible.
  10. If you don’t want to shrink it any farther, allow it to air dry.

4. Hairdryer

The hairdryer method lets you minimally shrink portions of your hoodie without a lot of mess or bother. That said, it is a bit more hands-on and does take some time.

Plus, your hairdryer puts out a pretty good amount of heat, but not as much as boiling water! You should not expect to see more than minimal shrinking from this method. It works best to attack just a section of the garment, such as the waistband.

  1. First, dampen the portion of the hoodie you want to shrink. You can do this easily with a clean spray bottle filled with water or even by soaking the area in cool water and squeezing it between two towels.
  2. Spread out your hoodie on another clean towel so that you have easy access to the damp potion. You will want to do this near an outlet for your hairdryer.
  3. Plugin your hairdryer and put it on its hottest setting if it has multiple temperature options.
  4. Move the hairdryer back and forth over the damp fabric. You will want the nozzle close to the fabric but not touching it.
  5. Continue this until the hoodie feels hot and dry.
  6. You may need to flip the hoodie over and repeat the procedure on the opposite side as well.

5. Ironing

Ironing a portion of your hoodie offers another mess-free, simple way to minimally shrink a small portion of the garment. You probably do not want to use this method if you want the whole hoodie to shrink a size or two, but it can prove highly effective in shrinking just the hood, just the waistband, and so on!

  1. Before trying this method, test your iron on the inside of the waistband. Make sure the high heat of the iron does not damage the fabric. You can also place a pressing cloth over the material to prevent any scorch marks as you go.
  2. If your iron has a squirt function, you can use that to dampen the area you want to shrink. If not, prep the garment by spritzing it with clean water out of a spray bottle.
  3. If your iron has a steam setting, you can use that during the whole process. If not, don’t worry! Just spritz a bit more water as you go. Mixing moisture and heat will create the best results.
  4. Spread out the hoodie so that the part you want to shrink lies smoothly on your ironing board. Run the iron smoothly back and forth over the damp area repeatedly.
  5. Try on the hoodie to see if you like the results!

6. Cotton/Polyester Blend

If your hoodie is made out of polyester or contains a cotton and polyester blend, some specific shrinking methods will work better than others.

You can get the best results in your hoodie shrinking project by tailoring your method to the type of material. One of the big questions you face when working with modern clothing is whether or not the clothing contains synthetic fabric.

What is a synthetic fabric? It comes from man-made products like plastic. Polyester, for example, actually comes from a petroleum byproduct manufactured into plastic and then processed into threads!

Polyester costs much less than cotton in today’s market. This means that you will quite often find hoodies made entirely out of polyester or out of a 50/50 blend of polyester and cotton.

The key thing to know about a polyester hoodie is that you need to up the heat to cause it to shrink.

  • You can use the dryer method successfully on a polyester or cotton/poly blend hoodie. Make sure you have the dryer set to high heat, and allow the tumble dry cycle to fully complete.
  • You can also use the boiling water method. However, you will want to allow the hoodie to soak in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes instead of 5 to 10 minutes.
  • You can shrink polyester using an iron, but you probably should not try this because the plastic in polyester may melt or scorch when directly exposed to that much heat! Instead, try the hairdryer method for targeted shrinking.

7. 100% Cotton

Unless your 100% cotton hoodie specifically says it went through a preshrinking process, you will find it super easy to shrink!

You can use any of the methods described above on a cotton hoodie. Cotton fibers have an amazing ability to absorb water, and this means that moisture and heat can easily cause cotton fibers to shrink.

The only thing to know when shrinking a 100% cotton hoodie is that it will often shrink more than you anticipate. Some cotton manufacturers warn that putting a wet cotton garment in the dryer could cause it to shrink by as much as twenty percent!

8. Tailoring

Tailoring is not a shrinking method per se, but you may want to consider this step if you have a hoodie that is enormously too big. Most of the time, shrinking will only reduce a garment by up to two sizes. If you have a beloved hoodie you can’t bear to part with, but it is five or ten sizes too big, you can ask a tailor to alter the sweatshirt for you.

A tailor could easily curve in the side seams of the hoodie to make it fitted instead of baggy, for example.

That said, unless you feel a strong attachment to this hoodie, it probably costs about as much to buy a new hoodie as it would to hire a tailor!

How to Shrink a Hoodie Without a Dryer

How to make a hoodie smaller

You can shrink most hoodies quite a bit without placing them in the dryer. Cotton especially will shrink just through exposure to hot water. You can use the washing machine method or even the boiling water method and then allow the sweatshirt to air dry rather than placing it in a dryer. This will still cause significant shrinking!

Polyester may not respond well to any of the shrinking processes described in this article unless you follow up the method with a tumble dry. That said, the boiling water method will work very well on polyester, even without the dryer. Simply allow the hoodie to soak a bit longer in the boiling water before removing it to air dry.

How Do You Shrink a Hoodie One Size?

There is no perfect way to shrink a hoodie by just one size. Unlike tailoring or altering a garment using sewing, shrinking methods do not allow for such exactness. The biggest risk of trying to shrink any clothing is that you can’t precisely control the results.

That said, you can follow the general rule of thumb that more heat equals more shrinking. For less shrinking, use less heat.

For example, if you want to use the washing machine method, do not place your damp hoodie in the dryer if you do not want to shrink it a lot. Instead, hang it up to air dry. Likewise, you can try using a cooler temperature on your iron or hairdryer if you use those methods.

You will not want to use the boiling water method unless you want to shrink your hoodie a lot!

But what about if you need to shrink just the waistband? You can target certain areas of the hoodie using the hairdryer or iron methods. This does give you a bit more control over the amount of shrinkage.

How to Shrink a Hoodie Without Ruining It

You can usually safely attempt the methods described in this article to shrink your hoodie without ruining it. That said, indeed, you cannot fully predict exactly how a piece of clothing will shrink. In some unfortunate cases, you could end up with too-small sleeves, a scorched design, or just too much shrinking!

Here are a few steps you can take to avoid damaging a hoodie while you shrink it:

  • Read the manufacturer’s care label inside the garment. This will tell you how to safely wash it. If the care label indicates that you can wash the hoodie in hot water, you will know you can safely try the washing machine method to shrink it!
  • The label will also tell you what material the hoodie contains, such as cotton or polyester. Use a shrinking method that will work well for that specific material.
  • To avoid damaging the printed design on your hoodie, you may want to skip the boiling water or washing machine method. Instead, target the areas you want to shrink with your hairdryer. Some heat-set designs could crack or fade when exposed to too much heat or moisture.

Should Hoodies Be Tight or Loose?

Should Hoodies Be Tight or Loose

Whether or not a hoodie should be tight or loose depends entirely on your own fashion preferences. The cool thing about hoodies is that they work in so many different styles and types of fashion! Everyone from rappers to minivan moms looks great in this casual clothing.

Hoodies do come in several different popular cuts. You can find the classic bulky, baggy style, often worn long over a pair of leggings. You can also find a fitted style with shaped side seams that hugs the body more closely. Then, of course, you can find the more jacket-like hoodies with zipper fronts.

You may prefer the fitted hoodie that shows off the lines of your body more clearly. On the other hand, you can look equally stylish in a baggy hoodie by throwing your hair in a messy bun and pairing the hoodie with leggings, boots, and a pumpkin spice latte! It all depends on your personal preferences.


Most hoodies will easily shrink up to two sizes under certain conditions. You can shrink a hoodie using eight basic methods: a hot washer or dryer cycle or soaking in boiling water. The best way to shrink a targeted portion of a hoodie is to dampen that area and dry it using an iron or hairdryer.

The material used in the hoodie does make a big difference in how easily it shrinks; a hoodie that contains spandex will not shrink, for example! Cotton shrinks very easily when exposed to heat. Synthetic fabrics like polyester need prolonged exposure to high heat to shrink.

Have you ever tried to shrink a hoodie? What method did you use, and did it turn out well? Leave a comment below to let us know!