How to Shrink a Silk Sweater

Things You'll Need

  • Clothes washer
  • Alkaline-free shampoo
  • Hair conditioner
  • Towel

If that silk sweater you bought is a little big, you have a good chance of shrinking it by changing a few steps in your normal laundry routine. Silk is taken from the silk worm's cocoon, and according to, "a natural glue, sericin, secreted by silkworms and not totally removed during manufacturing of the silk, is a natural sizing which is brought out when washing in warm water." So washing silk can actually tighten up the weave of a loosely woven sweater.

How to Shrink a Silk Sweater

Machine wash the sweater on the delicate setting in warm water. Silk fiber is much like human hair, so use an alkaline-free shampoo to "remove oil and revitalize your silk." Avoid shampoos with waxy or oily ingredients because these could stain your silk.

Instead of fabric softener, which can stain silk, use a good hair conditioner in the rinse cycle to prevent static cling.

Roll up the sweater tightly in the towel to remove any excess moisture. This will prevent the strain that wringing would put on silk.

Lay flat to dry and iron on a cool setting, if needed.


  • If hoping for dramatic results, you may need to consider buying a smaller size because it's not the silk itself, but the weave that shrinks.


About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.