How To Shrink Socks?

Bunching on ankles, loosely fitting cuffs, and falling socks are signs of stretched socks. They are no longer appealing. You can’t even imagine that it was once your favorite pair. Well, there are numerous techniques you can use to shrink socks back to their standard size. So, how to shrink socks?

You can shrink them by washing, boiling, and drying. Pre-soaking your socks in warm or hot water helps them react better to the heat and shrink faster! For cotton or polyester socks, use the hottest setting.

Read along for more details.

How to Shrink Socks That Are Too Big?

Socks are made from different materials such as cotton, polyester, and wool. These materials have various properties and respond differently when exposed to heat and moisture.

Therefore, reading the care label instructions is essential before washing or ironing. Below are three methods of shrinking stretched or oversize socks.

Related: Different Types of Socks

Method 1: Washing

Washing socks is one of the effective ways of shrinking socks. All you need to do is:

  • Adjust the washing machine to hot mode. Most fabrics such as wool and cotton shrink when exposed to higher temperatures. So, select the hottest washing mode for them. If you’ve other garments- you can clean under the same conditions, add them.
  • Socks comprising polyester or other synthetic materials usually shrink under cold temperatures. So, separate them from the other clothes and readjust the machine to cool mode.
  • Set the machine on a long washing cycle to give the material enough response time. Adjust the setting to a lower wash cycle for wool socks to avoid over shrinking.
  • Get them out once the machine completes the cycle. If the results aren’t satisfactory, you can still re-wash them. You can choose to air dry or use a hot dryer to dry them.

Related: How Do You Wash Waterproof Socks?

Method 2: Dry Shrinking

  • Submerge the socks in hot or cold water before placing them in a dryer. This will help quicken the shrinking process.
  • You should dry cotton and polyester under higher temperatures on a long drying cycle. Keep checking the socks to ensure they attain the correct size.
  • You’ll need to adjust the machine settings to a warm mode for wool fabric. Wool is susceptible to heat–thanks to its structure. You, therefore, don’t need to expose it to as much heat as other fabrics.
  • Remove the sock from the machine and let it cool at room temperature

Method 3: Boil Shrinking

  • Get a bowl and add water into it until 2/3 full. Submerge the socks in the water and heat them until it boils. The boiling water helps apply heat to the socks, causing them to shrink.
  • Allow the socks to boil for approximately 10 minutes or more. This gives it more time for the socks to reach their utmost size. Then, you can add essential oil, e.g., eucalyptus and lavender for a pleasant smell.
  • Move the boiled water into a dryer. Then, using a spatula or a thong, pull the socks from the water and place them in a dryer.
  • Dry the socks using the highest dryer settings. Once the process is complete, remove them from the dryer and let them cool. Leave it at room temperature for a while before checking its size. If you need to shrink them further, boil them for a more extended period. Also, repeat the other steps above.


Q. How can I make my socks tighter?

You can make your socks tighter by using tumble-drying or boiling them. Most fabrics, e.g., wool and cotton, shrink when exposed to heat. So you can boil or air dry them under hot machine settings.

When shrinking wool socks, use slightly lower heat settings. Wool is susceptible to heat and is likely to over-shrink in high temperatures.

Q. Do socks shrink in the dryer?

It depends on the socks’ fabric. For example, wool and cotton shrink when placed in a dryer set at high temperatures. Most sock fabrics and textiles shrink when subjected to heat. Dryers use heat to dry and remove moisture from clothes.

Q. Do Nike socks shrink in the dryer?

It depends on the material. Nike socks containing synthetic material don’t shrink. But the ones made from natural fibers can shrink. All you need to do is soak them in warm water and tumble dry.


Shrinking socks gives them a new lease on life. It makes them return to their previous firmness though not 100%. To shrink them, you can boil, tumble dry, or wash them in warm water. The level of shrinkage is dependent on the material and the heat. Cotton and wool socks can quickly shrink, but polyester is the opposite. They are difficult to shrink.