What to Do When Dry Cleaner Shrink Clothes

What to Do When Dry Cleaner Shrink Clothes

What to Do When Dry Cleaner Shrink Clothes. Finding a favorite garment that has unexpectedly shrunk after a visit to the dry cleaner can be disheartening. You may wonder, “What went wrong, and is there any way to reverse the damage?” This detailed guide will explore why clothes shrink at the dry cleaner, what to do when it happens, and preventive measures to ensure your beloved garments remain intact.

Understanding Why Clothes Shrink at the Dry Cleaner

Before we delve into the solutions, it’s crucial to understand why clothes may shrink when taken to a dry cleaner:

  • Fabric Type
  • Inadequate Pre-Treatment
  • Incorrect Dry Cleaning Methods
  • Poor Quality Control

Fabric Type

Certain fabrics, such as wool, silk, and linen, are more prone to shrinking when exposed to heat and moisture. These natural fibers are less forgiving during the dry cleaning process.

Inadequate Pre-Treatment

Failure to pre-treat stains and spills properly before dry cleaning can lead to shrinkage. Colors can be set during the cleaning process, making it challenging to remove them without damaging the fabric.

Incorrect Dry Cleaning Methods

The dry cleaner’s choice of cleaning method and temperature settings can impact the fabric’s dimensions. Inexperienced or negligent dry cleaners may use the wrong techniques for specific materials.

Poor Quality Control

In some cases, dry cleaners may not thoroughly inspect garments before or after cleaning, leading to improper handling and potential shrinkage.

What to Do When Your Clothes Shrink at the Dry Cleaner

Discovering that your clothes have shrunk after a visit to the dry cleaner can be frustrating, but all is not lost. Here are the steps you can take to address the issue:

  • Check the Care Label
  • Contact the Dry Cleaner
  • Request Compensation

Check the Care Label

Before taking any action, review the care label on the garment. Understanding the manufacturer’s recommended care instructions will help you determine the appropriate steps.

Contact the Dry Cleaner

Reach out to the dry cleaner promptly and express your concerns. Please provide them with details about the garment, including the fabric type and care label instructions. A reputable dry cleaner will typically assess the situation and may offer a resolution.

Request Compensation

If the dry cleaner acknowledges their mistake and accepts responsibility for the shrinkage, inquire about compensation. Depending on the circumstances and their policy, they may offer to replace the garment or provide a monetary prize for the damage.

Attempt to Reverse the Shrinkage

While it’s challenging to reverse the effects of shrinkage completely, you can try the following methods to regain some of the lost dimensions:

  • Lukewarm Water Soak: Fill a basin with lukewarm water and add a small amount of hair conditioner or baby shampoo. Gently submerge the shrunken garment and allow it to soak for 15-30 minutes. Gently stretch the fabric while it’s still damp to its original shape, taking care not to damage it. Rinse with cold water and gently press out excess water. Lay the garment flat on a towel, roll it up, and gently press to remove more moisture. Finally, reshape the garment and allow it to air dry.
  • Steam: Use a handheld fabric steamer or a steam iron on a low setting to gently steam the skinny fabric. While cooking, gently stretch the garment in all directions to help regain its original shape. Be cautious not to apply too much heat directly to the fabric, as it may cause further damage.
  • Professional Alteration: In some cases, a skilled tailor may be able to salvage the garment by making alterations to accommodate the new dimensions. Discuss your options with a professional.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Shrinkage

Preventing clothes from shrinking in the first place is the best approach. Here are some preventive measures:

  • Read Care Labels
  • Hand Wash or Use Cold Water
  • Use a Mesh Bag
  • Air Dry
  • Use a Professional Dry Cleaner

Read Care Labels

Always read and follow the care label instructions on your garments. Pay attention to recommended washing, drying, and ironing methods.

Hand Wash or Use Cold Water

Consider hand washing with cold water or using a gentle cycle in your washing machine for delicate fabrics like silk, wool, or linen. Hard water is less likely to cause shrinkage than hot water.

Use a Mesh Bag

Place delicate items, especially those with straps or strings, in a mesh laundry bag before washing. It protects them from tangling with other garments and reduces friction that can lead to shrinkage.

Air Dry

Whenever possible, air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer. High heat from dryers can be a significant cause of shrinkage.

Use a Professional Dry Cleaner

Choose a reputable dry cleaner with a track record of handling various fabrics correctly. Read reviews and ask for recommendations from friends and family.


Can all shrunken clothes be reversed using the methods mentioned?

Not all shrunken clothes can be fully reversed. The success of these methods depends on various factors, including the fabric type, the extent of shrinkage, and the care label instructions.

What if the dry cleaner denies responsibility for the shrinkage?

If the dry cleaner denies responsibility, you can try the methods mentioned to attempt to reverse the shrinkage. You May also consider seeking legal advice or filing a complaint with consumer protection agencies if necessary.

How can I prevent clothes from shrinking when washing them at home?

To prevent clothes from shrinking, always follow the care label instructions, use cold water for delicate fabrics, and air dry whenever possible. Hand washing can also be gentler on specific garments.


Discovering that your clothes have shrunk at the dry cleaner can be frustrating, but with the right approach, you can address the issue and even attempt to reverse some of the damage. Remember to read care labels, choose a reputable dry cleaner, and follow preventive measures to minimize the risk of shrinkage. By taking these steps, you can ensure your beloved garments remain in excellent condition and continue to bring you joy for years.