How to Stretch a Rayon Sweater

Rayon is a man-made “regenerated cellulose” fiber. Even if you’re not sure what “regenerated cellulose” means, there is one thing you need to know about this manufactured fiber: It can shrink when exposed to heat. If you accidentally washed or dried your rayon sweater on a hot setting, you might assume the shrunken piece is destined for the trash. Fortunately, it’s possible to bring your shrunken rayon sweater back to life in a matter of hours.

A young woman is doing laundry. (Image: Andrew Olney/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Step 1

Fill a plastic bucket or basin halfway with lukewarm water. Add 1 tablespoon baby shampoo and 1 tablespoon regular hair conditioner. Use your hand or a spoon to stir the water and dissolve the shampoo and conditioner.

Step 2

Submerge your rayon sweater in the water. Allow the sweater to remain completely submerged in the conditioner and baby shampoo mixture for at least five to 10 minutes.

Step 3

Spread a towel out on the floor or a table near the basin. Remove the sweater from the water and gently squeeze to remove the liquid. Lay the sweater flat onto the towel. Roll the towel and gently squeeze to remove additional liquid. The idea isn’t to completely dry the sweater, only remove the excess liquid to prevent dripping.

Step 4

Hang the sweater on a sturdy hangar. Gently stretch the sweater’s arms and body to help regain its original shape. Once you’re satisfied with the sweater’s size and shape, allow it to air dry. If the sweater is still too small after it's completely dry, repeat the process of soaking and stretching the piece.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic bucket or basin

  • 1 tablespoon baby shampoo

  • 1 tablespoon regular hair conditioner

  • Spoon

  • Towel

  • Hanger


It might take an additional two, three or even four soakings and stretching to achieve the desired look.

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