How to Shrink that Shirt (and Baseball Cap) to Fit YOU!

Let’s call a spade a spade and admit that it rocks to get free stuff. There’s nothing better than going to a trade show or festival in your community and walking away with a free shirt or baseball hat from a new favorite company. Well, the only thing better than getting a free 100% cotton t-shirt is if it fits.

However, not all is lost if it doesn’t fit comfortably. If it’s a size or two too large, you can easily fix the problem by heating up some water in a huge pot. Really. I’ve found some methods that will help shrink 100% cotton t-shirts. Got a custom baseball cap that you love, except for how large it is? I’ve got a method to make it fit your head and make sure the brim is perfectly curved for your preference. Give these directions below a try for your 100% cotton shirts and caps!

How to Shrink a 100% Cotton T-Shirt:


1. Boil a large pot of water

2. Once it’s boiling, remove from heat and put your shirt in the pot (the hotter the water means more shrinkage)

• If you want your shirt to shrink roughly 1 to 2 sizes, put your shirt in immediately after you remove the pot from the burner.
• If you want your shirt to shrink roughly 1/2 to 1 size, wait 5 minutes before placing the shirt in the water.
• If you want your shirt to shrink roughly 1/4 to 1/2 size, wait 10-15 minutes before placing the shirt in the water.

3. Let the shirt soak in the water for 5 minutes or so (the longer the shirt is exposed to the hot water, the more it will shrink)

4. Drain the water and let the shirt cool off before handling it

• Leave the shirt in the pot to cool off before you handle the shirt

5. Wring out the shirt and let it air dry

1. Wash your shirt in your washer using the hottest water temperature

2. Once the wash cycle is complete, put the shirt in the dryer and dry thoroughly using a medium-heat setting

3. Once your shirt is dry, wear it with pride!

Some additional tips:

• Add a cup of white vinegar to the water to keep colors from bleeding out. There will still be unavoidable color loss, so wash each garment to shrink separately
• Wash multiple cotton garments you intend to shrink at once
• This does not work on all shirts — it works best with 100% cotton, some wool types, and cotton shirts that aren’t already pre-shrunk

* * *

Okay, let’s say you’re handed a customized baseball cap instead of a t-shirt, but it’s huge on your head? Your options: give it away and miss having a cool hat to wear when the sun is shining or take it home and shrink it to fit your head like a glove.

Shrinking a baseball hat takes time, so it’s best to give yourself as much time as possible to make sure you accomplish each step and make the new size as permanent as possible. It’s easy though!

How to Shrink a Baseball Cap:

1. Fill up a large bucket, pot, or empty kitchen sink with enough warm (NOT BOILING) water to completely submerge your hat

2. Soak your hat for a couple minutes and make sure it gets thoroughly wet and saturated with the warm water

3. Take out the hat and put it on your head (yes, it will still be soaking wet so have a towel handy to dry any drips that fall on your neck). This step is what will make sure the hat shrinks to the size of your head, so wear it until it dries.

If your cap’s brim is flatter than you would like, that’s fixable too. All it requires is some water, a baseball, lots of rubber bands, and time:


1. Spray the brim of your cap with water (just enough to moisten it, it doesn’t need to be soaking wet).

2. Place a softball or baseball under the brim (mason jars can work too) and wrap rubber bands around the ball and brim to shape it around the ball

3. Let the cap sit like this for a day or two (the longer it sits, the more permanent the shaping will be)

4. Repeat as needed, newer hats have brims that will slowly flatten if you’re wearing it throughout the day

The best part about going to trade shows or conventions is picking up free swag. If that cool shirt you got or baseball hat doesn’t fit as nicely as you’d like, don’t throw it out. Try these shrinking methods so you can wear your items with a smile on your face instead putting them in the back of your closet.

What’s your favorite type of promotional product to get? Do you have any other methods to shrink a 100% cotton t-shirt or baseball hat? Share them in the comments below!

Expand Your Brand!


Amy Hoidas

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ Community Manager. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can also connect with Amy on


  1. Wash

    I’m usually the opposite and make sure to wash everything in cold water to make sure nothing shrinks. I also don’t dry any of my clothes in the dryer because I want to be extra cautious!

  2. Dréa Bell

    Thanks for those helpful tips Amy! I never knew you could shrink a baseball cap. Unfortunately, I found out you can definitely shrink converse shoes with these same tips. I was not happy that day. 🙁

  3. Lisa King

    All the depends on the fabric of the hats. But yes washing it in the washing machine in hot water will work.

  4. Nicole Salas

    Will this ruin the sticker on the shirt?

    • Amy Swanson

      Hey Nicole, thanks for stopping by!

      Be sure to remove any stickers before washing your shirt in hot water. Using these shrinking methods shouldn’t affect your imprint, if that’s what you’re referring to 🙂

      Hope that helps!

  5. mel

    hello, I want to shrink one of my 100% cotton shirts but it isn’t a t shirt, it has elastic running through the whole thing. which meathod would be better for it?

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