How to Shrink a Soccer Jersey: A Step-by-Step Guide

Evidence Based

Fact Checked

Whether you’ve outgrown your favorite soccer jersey or stumbled upon a vintage find that’s a tad too loose, shrinking it to the perfect fit is within your reach.

While the process might seem daunting, it’s actually quite manageable with the right approach. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to shrink a soccer jersey to achieve a snug, game-ready fit.

No magic spells or complex maneuvers—just a strategic use of water, heat, and a little patience.

Do Soccer Jerseys Shrink?

A Nike yellow Jersey hanged in a Nike store

Most soccer jerseys are made from materials that have a degree of natural elasticity, which means they can shrink when exposed to heat and moisture. 

However, the extent of shrinking can vary depending on factors like the jersey’s material composition, the temperature of the water used, and the heat during the drying process.

Some jerseys might shrink more noticeably, while others might hardly shrink at all!

What are soccer jerseys made of?

First thing’s first. Let’s look at the three most common types of soccer jersey materials: synthetic, poly-cotton blends, and 100% cotton and how much they’re likely to shrink.

Synthetic Material 

Modern soccer jerseys are often crafted from synthetic fibers like polyester.

Polyester fabrics are designed to resist shrinking, as they have minimal natural fibers that are prone to change in size. 

Synthetic soccer jerseys generally don’t shrink a lot, even after repeated washes and exposure to heat.

This makes them ideal for maintaining their original fit and appearance over time.

Poly-Cotton Blends 

Poly-cotton blends jerseys, which combine polyester and cotton fibers, can experience some shrinkage, although it’s usually minimal. 

In the first couple of washes, poly-cotton jerseys might shrink by around 3% to 4% due to the presence of cotton fibers. 

After this initial shrinkage, the jersey’s size tends to stick, and further shrinking becomes less noticeable.

This moderate level of shrinkage is often manageable and might contribute to achieving a better fit for some players.

100% Cotton 

Cotton is known for its ability to shrink when exposed to heat and moisture. 

Like any other piece of clothing, soccer jerseys made from 100% cotton can shrink quite well, especially during the first few washes. 

It’s common for cotton jerseys to shrink in the range of 7% to 10%, depending on various factors like the specific cotton type, fabric weave, and care method. 

How to Shrink a Soccer Jersey: A Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to shrink a soccer jersey:

Step 1: Assess the Material

Before you go diving into the shrinking process, find out what material your soccer jersey is made of.

Modern jerseys often feature synthetic materials, poly-cotton blends, or 100% cotton. How much your jersey can shrink depends on this material composition.

Always check the care label for specific instructions. Cotton garments or polyester materials require different treatments due to their distinct properties.

While cotton can tolerate higher heat levels, polyester may need more gentle care to avoid damage during the shrinking process.

Step 2: Prepare the Jersey

When it comes to shrinking sports jerseys like a soccer shirt, adjusting the water temperature is a must.

Instead of boiling water, it’s best to stick to warm water. Don’t forget to consider the type of fabric to prevent ruining your shirt.

Here’s what you can do: Immerse your jersey in warm water, making sure it’s fully soaked.

Then, add a small amount of mild detergent and fabric softener to the water.

To maintain the vibrant and permanent color of your soccer jersey, opt for a color-stay detergent and follow a gentle cleaning process.

This approach can help avoid problems like color fading or running.

Now, let the jersey soak in the hot water for about 10 to 15 minutes. This allows the fibers to absorb moisture and become more receptive to shrinking.

After the soaking period, remove the jersey from the hot water and rinse it thoroughly with cold water. This helps remove any detergent residue.

Then gently squeeze out excess water from the jersey. Be careful not to wring or twist the fabric, as this could damage it!

Step 4: Dry 

The drying process depends on the jersey’s material too.

For synthetic jerseys, consider using a dryer on low heat. Synthetic fabrics are less likely to shrink than other fabrics. For poly-cotton or cotton jerseys, air-drying on a clothesline is best to prevent it shrinking too much.

Throughout the drying process, periodically check the jersey’s size to avoid over-shrinking. Keep in mind that high heat settings can damage the fabric or alter the design, so use caution.

Step 5: Gently Stretch (If Necessary)

As you take your freshly shrunken jersey out of the drying process, it’s an opportune moment to gently stretch and shape it further, if required. 

While the fabric is still slightly damp, delicately use your hands to ensure that the jersey retains its proper shape and fits comfortably on your body. This step is particularly important if certain areas seem slightly uneven due to the shrinking process.

How to Unshrink a Jersey

Soccer Girl in Black Jersey Control Kick Approach

Unshrinking a jersey can be a bit more challenging than shrinking it! But there are a few methods you can try to relax the fibers and regain some of the original size. 

Keep in mind that the success of these methods depends on the material of the jersey and the extent of shrinkage.

Warm Water Soak and Stretching 

Start by filling a basin with lukewarm water. Make sure it’s not too hot, as excessive heat can worsen the situation

Gently place the shrunken jersey into the water and let it soak for around 30 minutes.

Once the fabric has absorbed some moisture, carefully stretch it while it’s still submerged. Use gentle pulling and massaging to encourage the fibers to relax. 

When you’re done, lift the jersey from the water and continue the shaping and stretching process. 

To dry, lay it out on a clean, dry towel and avoid wringing or twisting the delicate fabric.

Conditioner and Water Method 

Create a mixture by adding a small amount of hair conditioner to lukewarm water in a basin. Stir well until the conditioner dissolves. 

Submerge the shrunken jersey in this solution and let it soak for about 15 to 20 minutes. As you gently stretch and massage the fabric during soaking, the fibers may start to loosen up. 

Rinse the jersey with cool water to remove the conditioner, then carefully press out excess water. Reshape the jersey to its original size and lay it on a towel to air dry.

Steam Method 

If you have access to a garment steamer or steam iron, this method might help you unshrink the jersey.

Hang the shrunken jersey on a hanger or lay it flat on a clean surface. 

Set your steamer or steam iron to its lowest setting and hold it a few inches above the fabric. Gently direct the steam over the jersey without making direct contact. The goal is to dampen the fabric slightly and relax the fibers. 

While the fabric is damp, use gentle stretching and shaping to restore the jersey’s original size. 

After you’re satisfied with the results, allow the jersey to air dry in its stretched state.

How to Purchase a Perfect-Fitting Jersey Every Time 

When you find and buy a jersey that matches your measurements, you won’t have to worry about making adjustments later.

It’s all about ensuring a comfortable and perfect fit right from the start. Plus, it keeps the jersey looking great for a long time!

To ensure you always snag the ideal jersey size, follow these methods to save you the hassle of attempting to shrink a jersey later on.

Two female soccer players playing at soccer field

Know Your Measurements 

Start by taking accurate measurements of your chest, shoulders, waist, and hips. This will serve as a baseline when comparing sizing charts provided by the shirt manufacturers. 

Different brands may have slightly different sizing, so knowing your measurements will help you choose the correct size across other brands.

Consider Fit Preferences 

Understand the different types of fits available, such as slim fit, regular fit, or athletic fit.

Think about your personal style and comfort preferences when choosing a fit. Keep in mind that an athletic fit might be more snug around the body, while a regular fit is often a size larger.

Read Reviews and Recommendations

Online reviews and customer feedback can provide valuable insights into how a particular jersey fits.

Reading reviews can give you an idea of whether a jersey runs true to size or if adjustments are needed.

Try On In-Store

If possible, try on jerseys in-store to see how it fits.

This gives you a chance to assess how the jersey looks and feels on your body. 

Move around, stretch, and mimic sports movements to ensure the jersey doesn’t restrict your activities.

Material Matters

Pay attention to the material composition of the jersey.

Different fabrics drape and fit differently. Consider your comfort preferences and how the material might behave during physical activity.

Brand Type 

When shopping for soccer jerseys, you’ll find options including authentic jerseys, replica jerseys, and even non-branded soccer jerseys. 

Pick a brand that works for you. Adidas jerseys can run small whereas Nike seems true to fit. We also loving matching jersey brands with our cleats!

Check Return and Exchange Policies 

Always be aware of the store’s return and exchange policies.

Even with careful sizing, there might be instances where a jersey doesn’t fit as expected. Knowing the store’s policies can provide you with peace of mind.

The Final Score 

If you follow these steps and take good care at each stage, you’ll be able to shrink your soccer jersey for a personalized fit that boosts your on-field performance and keeps you super comfy.

Understanding your jersey’s material and being patient throughout the process is key to getting the results you want.

Just remember, unshrinking a jersey isn’t a surefire fix, especially if the fabric has gone through permanent changes. So, be cautious and gentle throughout the process to avoid any harm to the fabric. You got this!.

This article was written by

  • Mia Johnson, Fitness Expert & Soccer Coach

    Hello! I'm Mia, a high school Physical Education teacher in Orlando, Florida by day and a soccer blog contributor by night. My journey with soccer began just like any other enthusiastic player - on a local field, chasing after a ball and dreaming big. Soccer became my way to teach, inspire, and connect with others. In addition to my role in education, I've taken my passion for soccer a step further by earning a coaching qualification. This badge not only represents my commitment to the sport...