There's nothing quite so sad as saggy, baggy underwear. When your favorite piece of underwear loses its shape, it's tempting to throw it in the trash and start hunting down a replacement. But do you really need to? Is there a way to cut the slack and tighten things up? There is. Although be warned... it's going to involve a LOT of hot water.
Finding underwear that fits like a glove can be a challenge. Even if you do manage the impossible, there's no guarantee it's still going to be fitting like a dream a few months down the line.
Regardless of how expensive the piece or how great the brand, underwear has a nasty habit of becoming stretched, baggy, and way, way less supportive than it was designed to be. Which is a problem. Not only is loose underwear uncomfortable to wear, but it's also kind of ugly. And if there's one thing no one wants, it's ugly, uncomfortable underwear.
But while stretched-out underwear might be inevitable, it's also not irreversible. With the right technique, it's possible to shrink most kinds of underwear safely, easily, and without spending a single penny. If shapeless underwear is getting you down, stay tuned to find out exactly what you can do to fix it.
Hot water is often touted as the number one way to shrink underwear. But does it actually work? As with most things, there's no simple yes or no answer.
If your underwear is old and has already been washed and dried on multiple occasions, a warm bath is unlikely to produce any noticeable difference. If, on the other hand, it's relatively new, there's a good chance that a wash in hot water will help tighten things up. A lot also depends on the type of material you're dealing with.
Before anything else, check the label. If the fabric contains a high percentage of cotton, wool, rayon, silk, or linen, there's a good chance that hot water will result in shrinkage. If it's made entirely from a synthetic fabric like polyester or nylon, hot water is best avoided.
Not only is it unlikely to shrink the underwear, but it could even melt or cause permanent damage to the fabric. If there's a larger percentage of natural material than there is synthetic, you can give the method a try, but the results may not be as noticeable as they'd be with all-natural materials.
If you're ready to give it a go, start by separating the underwear from the rest of your laundry so you don't accidentally damage or shrink any delicates. Add the underwear to the washing machine along with some laundry detergent. Set the load size to small, the temperature to the hottest setting available, and the washing cycle to gentle (this will stop the underwater from tangling). Wash the items.
If the underwear is delicate, you might want to give the washing mashing a miss and handwash them in hot water instead - the results will be the same, but the gentler action of handwashing will avoid any potential damage.
To handwash, fill a basin with hot water and submerge the underwear in hot water. Leave the garments to soak for around 3 to 5 minutes. Add some mild detergent and swish the garments around using a spatula. After around 5 more minutes (increase this to 25 more minutes if the fabric content includes a percentage of synthetics), take the garments out the basin and rinse them under warm water to remove the suds.
Leave them to air dry. Once they're completely dry, try them on for fit. If they still feel loose, repeat the process.
If washing your underwear in hot water hasn't achieved the desired level of tightness, it's time to dial things up a notch. A dryer can do great things for the fit of underwear and is capable of turning even the slackest, baggiest garment into a form-fitting dream.
But beware - if the underwear is made from a high percentage of polyester, nylon, or spandex, resist the temptation to pop them in the dryer. The high heat is unlikely to do anything but damage the fabric. Providing the underwear is made primarily from natural fabric like cotton, wool, linen, or silk, feel free to put your dryer's shrinking powers to the test.
If you've just washed the items, start by pressing them between a folded dry towel to remove as much excess water as possible. Next, dial the heat setting on the dryer up to max (the 'cottons' setting is usually as hot as things get) and set the timer for 20 minutes. If any damp spots remain on the underwear after the initial 20 minutes, blast them for another 5 minutes.
Once the underwear is completely dry, try it on for fit. If it still feels too big, repeat the washing/ drying process one to two more times, depending on how long it takes to achieve a comfortable fit.
If you don't own a dryer or simply don't like the idea of putting your delicates through such an intensive process, don't panic. Even without a dryer, you can still achieve some significant shrinkage.
Machine Wash - A hot wash in the washing machine can help tighten the fibers on underwear made from natural fabrics. Simply separate the underwear from the rest of your laundry and set the washing machine to the hottest setting available.
If the underwear isn't particularly delicate or if there's a lot of shrinking to be done, leave the underwear in the machine for as long as possible - the hotter the temperature and the longer the exposure, the more the fabric will shrink.
If you're washing as well as shrinking, add some mild detergent before you start the cycle. Once it's finished, air dry the underwear. Try it on for fit - if the underwear is still a little baggy or saggy in places, put it through another cycle.
Soak - If you want to conserve energy, skip the washing machine and soak the underwear by hand instead. Fill a large pot with water and heat over the stovetop. Make sure the pot is big enough to comfortably accommodate how ever many items of underwear you'll be shrinking.
Once the water reaches boiling point, turn the stove off. Add the underwear to the water, using a long-handled utensil to make sure the garments are completely submerged.
Allow to soak for up to 30 minutes, depending on how much you want to shrink the underwear by. If the underwear is made from cotton, 5 - 10 minutes of soaking time should be sufficient. If it's made from silk, a minute or so should be plenty. Other materials or underwear that require a lot of shrinking will benefit from the full 30 minutes.
Once the necessary time has passed, remove the underwear with cooking tongs to ensure you don't burn yourself. Press the underwear between towels to remove the excess water before leaving it to air dry.
Iron Dry - if your underwear is made from cotton, the following ironing method will do a great job of tightening things up. It's particularly useful if you want to tighten up just one part, rather than the whole garment. If the underwear is made from polyester, don't try it - the heat from the iron could cause irreparable damage.
Start by filling a spray bottle with warm water. Spray the underwear, paying particular attention to any saggy or baggy areas. Set the iron temperature to match the fabric content of the underwear. Run the iron slowly over the fabric. Keep ironing until the underwear is dry. When you next try the underwear on, you should notice a much snugger fit.
Boxers have a terrible habit of losing their snug fit over time. Fortunately, a few extra inches of sag are no reason to consign them to the trash.
Ultimately, boxers are no different from any other type of underwear. If they're made of a high percentage of natural materials (which, thankfully, most are), you can shrink them as you would any other garment using the same hot water/ dryer method we've previously discussed.
Cotton underwear might be wonderfully soft and comfortable, but as you're probably all too aware, it's got a terrible habit of stretching and losing its shape over time. The good news? Cotton can shrink, stretch and shrink again without losing any of its basic integrity.
Start by separating the cotton underwear from the rest of your laundry. Next, set your washing machine to a high temperature and a gentle setting. Once the underwear has finished washing, you can either leave it to air dry or throw it into the dryer on a high heat for 20 minutes.
If the underwear is particularly baggy, the high heat from the dryer will tighten up any remaining sag leftover from the wash cycle. If they're still too loose once they emerge from the dryer, give them another tumble.
To maximize shrinkage, you could also try soaking the underwear in a pan of hot water for around 15 minutes prior to running them through the washing machine.
If a sports bra is made with a high percentage of cotton or another kind of natural fabric, you stand a good chance of shrinking it using the hot water/ dryer method.
The problem is, shrinking a sports bra can damage its structural integrity. If the bra has an underwire, for example, the high heat needed to shrink the bra will end up bending the wire and ruining the shape of the bra.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can tighten up the fit of a sports bra without damaging it in the process, including...
If the sports bra straps are too long and can't be adjusted, shorten them by cutting away the excess and reattaching the straps to give a better fit.
If you've got a few sewing skills hidden away up your sleeve, put them to good use by tailoring the fit of your sports bra with the addition of the same snap hook you find on regular bras.
Use a washable pen to mark a line at the center of the bottom part of your sports bra to help you cut at the right place. Once you've cut the strap at the mark, sew the hook and snap on opposite sides.
Stitching an elastic band into the bottom of the sports bra can do a great job of achieving a tighter fit. Start by creating a small hole in the bra's seam by removing a little patch of fabric. Thread an elastic band through the hole, gather the fabric to ensure a snug fit, and sew the band in place.
If your lace underwear is made of cotton, silken, or linen threads, you should be able to shrink it successfully using hot water. As lace can be delicate, it's best to hand wash rather than machine wash.
Fill a basin with hot water and leave the underwear to soak for 5 minutes. Add some mild detergent intended for delicates, agitate the underwear with a spatula, and leave to soak for another 5 minutes. Rinse to remove any suds then leave to air dry. If the underwear is still not form-fitting once dry, repeat.
If the lace is made from polyester threads, you'll need to go back to the drawing board. Attempting to shrink a manmade material like polyester will just lead to frustration and in all probability, a damaged garment.
Does Calvin Klein underwear shrink? It depends. Like all underwear, its potential for shrinkage depends on what the underwear is made from. If Calvin Klein suddenly started making 100% synthetic underwear, it's not going to shrink much, regardless of the method you try.
That said, most of Calvin Klein's underwear tends to consist of a good percentage of cotton along with some modal and elastane for good measure. Thanks to the cotton content, the underwear can be shrunk using hot water and a dryer.
As we've seen, making underwear tighter is a relatively quick, easy, and hassle-free process. Providing you have plenty of hot water and aren't afraid to use it, you should soon be able to transform your baggy garments into form-fitting dreams.
Just remember that shrinking natural fabrics is a different proposition from shrinking synthetics. Man-made fibers like polyester don't enjoy excessively high heat.
If the underwear contains more synthetics than it does anything else, there's no harm in attempting to shrink it by running it through a high heat cycle in the washing machine or leaving it to soak in a tub of boiling water... providing you're prepared to deal with the possible consequences.
If you'd rather avoid melting or damaging the fabric, you might want to look at alternative alteration methods instead.