How to Stretch a Cotton Sweater

To prevent future stretching, use cold water when washing your sweater.
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Unfortunately, your washing machine and cotton clothes don't always get along. When this happens, you may be left with a garment a size smaller than when you started. Because of the looser way cotton sweaters are knitted, it's easier to resize them after a tangle with the washer than other types of clothing. If you prefer to get professional attention, a dry cleaner can help you -- but baby shampoo offers another simple method you can try from home without ruining your clothes.

Measure out 1 tablespoon of baby shampoo.

Add 1 quart of lukewarm water to a sink or bathtub.

Add the tablespoon of baby shampoo to the water.

Stir the solution together.

Immerse your sweater in the solution, letting it soak for a couple of minutes.

Remove the sweater, lightly wringing out excess water.

Place the sweater on a large towel.

Lay down another item of clothing next to the towel as a guide for your sweater's desired dimensions.

Gently stretch your sweater out to your desired size.

Place several coffee mugs or other heavy objects on the edges of your sweater so that it dries to the correct proportions.

  • Do not rinse the solution off of the sweater upon removal from the sink or bathtub.
  • If your sweater is still damp after you wring it out, roll up your towel with the clothing inside to absorb more water. You can also use a steamer or the steam from an iron to speed up the process.

Michael Briggs is a trending news reporter for He has interned for digital and print publications including "The New York Daily News," "The Princeton Packet" and Thrillist. He graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in journalism with a sports reporting concentration.