How to Stretch a Shirt Lengthwise

Laundry drying on string in garden

Taking a shrunken shirt out of the dryer is disheartening. Before you decide to use it as a rag or give it away, try stretching it out lengthwise first. Cotton, wool and cashmere shirts are more likely to stretch than silk, polyester, rayon or acrylic, but regardless of the fabric type, it’s worth a try to stretch it before tossing.

Fill a tub or sink with cool water. Mix ¼ cup of hair conditioner into the water.

Lay the shirt flat on top of the water, then use your hands to push the shirt down into the water so it’s evenly submerged. This allows for all of the fibers to be conditioned. Avoid balling up the shirt and tossing it in the water. This keeps the conditioner from reaching all the fibers.

Soak the shirt for 15 minutes. Drain the water from the sink or tub, remove the shirt and squeeze the water out gently. Replace the sink or tub with clean, cool water, and soak the shirt for five more minutes to rinse out the conditioner.

Drain the tub or sink again, and wring out the shirt to remove as much water as possible. Lay two to three thick bath towels on the floor or counter, then lay the shirt flat on the stack of towels.

Place one hand at the neckline to hold the shirt in place. Use the other hand to pull down the bottom hem and stretch the shirt until it is the desired size. Leave the shirt on the stack of towels to air-dry.

If the shirt needs to be stretched further, soak the shirt in water and hang it on a hanger in the shower to drip-dry. The water weight will stretch the shirt lengthwise.


When stretching a shirt using the drip-dry method, you have no control over how long the shirt will stretch.