Don't throw out that shrunken sweater—here’s how you can fix it at home

Don't throw it away! Try this trick instead.

Credit: Getty images
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It was my own fault. I usually clean my wool sweaters in the washing machine with cold water on a delicate cycle. I know, you probably wash all your sweaters by hand or send them to the dry cleaners. But my method had always worked before—until the day I accidentally dialed up the wrong cycle. And I didn’t realize that I had washed in hot water until it was all over.

When I unloaded the washing machine, I nearly cried. My sweaters were tiny. I shook them out, which did not help at all, and laid them flat to dry. Then I hid them in the back of my closet.

When fall came, I missed my teal sweater, which was always so warm and cozy. And I decided to try to bring it back from ruin. I figured if I could relax the wool enough, I could stretch it back into shape.

I'm a knitter, and I've been blocking sweaters for years, so here’s what I did.

1. Add 1/3 cup hair conditioner to a sink filled with lukewarm water.
Some people use a special wool wash called Eucalan or even baby shampoo for this phase.

Hair-conditioner-for-sweaters
Credit: Reviewed.com / Cindy Bailen
Use a third of a cup of conditioner to relax the sweater.

2. Soak the sweater for at least 15 minutes.

Soak-in-conditioner
Credit: Reviewed.com / Cindy Bailen
Fill the sink with tepid water, pour in the conditioner, and submerge the sweater.

3. Drain the sink. Don’t rinse or wring out the sweater, but press the water out gently.

Drain-sink
Credit: Reviewed.com / Cindy Bailen
Let the water out, but don't rinse or wring the sweater.

Lay the sweater on a towel. Roll it up to get more of the moisture out.

Roll-it-up
Credit: Reviewed.com / Cindy Bailen
Roll the sweater in a clean, dry towel.

5. Place the sweater on a dry towel or two. Reshape it to size.
A nerdy way to make sure you get the size right is to trace one of your non-shrunken sweaters onto a large sheet of paper, and use it as a template for reshaping. I didn't, but you could try it.

Lay-the-sweater-flat
Credit: Reviewed.com / Cindy Bailen
Lay the sweater out flat on a clean towel. Let it dry overnight.

This worked much better than I expected. And I can’t even tell you how happy I am to have my favorite sweater back in the rotation. Obviously, you should never wash a wool sweater in hot water. But if you accidentally do, now you know how to fix it.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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