It’s happened to all of us—you didn’t intend for the sweater to be dried with the rest of the clothes. You pull it out of the dryer and realize it could fit a small child. Or, maybe the dryer was set too hot for too long, and your favorite jeans are much shorter than you would like.

Seeing your clothes in this condition makes your heart sink. Your first reaction may be to take these favored items to the donation pile. But, wait! Did you know there is a trick to “unshrinking” clothes?

The answer to this dilemma starts with answering, “Why do clothes shrink?” Natural fibers are woven together into the cloth that is used to make most sweaters, jeans and shirts. This cloth is stretched during the manufacturing process. When it’s exposed to water and heat from your laundry, the fibers shrink back to their normal state.

So, how can you save your shrunken clothing? Try this simple 6-step method:

1. Use lukewarm water and gentle shampoo or soap. Fill a sink or tub with lukewarm water and add a capful of baby shampoo or hair conditioner. You may also try using the same amount of laundry detergent formulated for delicate cycles.

2. Soak for up to 30 minutes. This is when the fibers will begin to loosen.

3. Gently remove water from the clothing. When time is up, gently squeeze water from the clothing, but do not rinse the items.

4. Lay the clothing on a flat towel. Roll the towel, with the clothing inside, squeezing gently to release more water until the clothing is damp rather than wet.

5. Lay the clothing on another dry flat towel. As you position it on the towel, stretch it gently back to its preshrunk size.

6. Let the clothing air dry.

So, the next time your favorite outfit has come out of the laundry a bit smaller in size, don’t despair! These simple tips may get your clothing back to size and your spirits soaring.