How to Shrink a Basketball Jersey Without Damaging It?

basketball jersey on a sofa

One of the first things you notice about basketball jerseys is how well they fit. These are made true to size and have a slim and sleek look. The main reason behind this is to prevent the opposing team players from grabbing your shirts during the intense gameplay. You will move smoothly when the fit is narrower because the fabric won’t fly when you dribble around.

If you’ve accidentally ordered a jersey that is a bit loose, you can take action to shrink it. All you need is to give your jersey a hot water spin in the washing machine and dry them using the hottest settings.

Since the polyester material resists active shrinkage, you won’t be able to reduce the size drastically, but it can give you a nice slim fitting. So, whether it is your ice-hockey gear, football, or basketball uniform, as long as it is made from a mix of natural fibers, you can use the dryer method to reduce the size.

All of this requires precision and care which is why we’ve described all the steps below to help you shrink your playwear without damaging it.

Do sports jerseys shrink?

Yes, sports jerseys can shrink because the material they are made of is prone to shrinking. Most jerseys are made from 100% polyester, while others next to polyester might include cotton, silk, or elastane (spandex) – a synthetic fiber with an elastic nature. You can find this information on the manufacturer’s tag of the jersey.

Polyester and spandex playwear can be shrunk using high temperatures (typically anything slightly higher than recommended washing temperature will be sufficient). Most jerseys will have the most shrinkage the first time they are washed, so giving your jersey its first machine wash at a higher temperature might do the job.

To shrink a basketball jersey, it must be heated at a temperature higher than what the manufacturer’s tag recommends. In most cases, if your jersey is heated at 140°F, it can shrink to 100% of its original size. On the other hand, blends of polyester and spandex have a tendency to shrink from 5% to 25% when they are washed in hot water or tumble-dried.

If you own a jersey with decals that’s too big, i.e. an expensive NBA jersey, machine-rinsing it in warm water will be safe if you ensure you turn a jersey inside out and use a low spin cycle.

Manufacturer's tag on sports jersey that informs about the material jersey is made of.

How do you resize a basketball jersey that is too big?

Resizing a garment is pretty simple. And with our easy-to-follow guide, it becomes an even easier task. But before you get going, here are some important tips to remember:

  • Always check your playwear’s instruction tag. It has all the essential washing instructions that can help you identify your garment fabric.
  • Look at the label content to determine whether your clothing has been pre-shrunk. A pre-shrunk fabric may need extra drying spins to shrink it further.
  • Some jerseys have iron-on stickers and colorful crests. These can get damaged by extremely hot water. A key tip for these is to turn your clothes inside out and reduce the duration of the tumble spin to prevent the stickers from getting ruined.
  • Always use a mild color-safe laundry detergent when washing your basketball playwear as high heat can fade the colors.

Here are three tested ways that work to shrink your jerseys.

Washing Machine

  1. Turn your shirt inside out.
  2. Put your jersey into the washer and choose a hot wash cycle.
  3. Adjust to an appropriate water temperature. The water temperature of 120°F will be enough to slightly shrink your jersey. If you want a more significant shrinkage, increase it to 140 – 145°F.
  4. Add a color-safe washing detergent (optional)
  5. Start the washing machine.
  6. Once the cycle ends, remove your basketball jersey from the washer and hang it to dry.

Dryer ( for jerseys without decals )

Caution: repetitive use of tumble-dryer may cause damage to decals. We recommend this method only for jerseys without them.

  1. Turn your basketball jersey inside out.
  2. Rinse it under warm water and place it in the dryer.
  3. Set up your dryer on a high-heat setting
  4. As the cycle ends, take it out, and measure it to see if it has shrunk in size. If you are still not satisfied, you can repeat it twice.
Basketball jersey with the number that's part of the fabric.
Basketball jersey with a number that is part of the fabric. These are safe to shrink in the dryer.


This method is rarely used for shrinking, but it is equally helpful. Before you proceed to iron your shirts, check for any caution signs on your garment’s care tag.

  1. After your garment is rinsed, stretch it flat on the ironing board. Ensure it is inside-out to prevent direct heat contact with the decals.
  2. Cover a jersey with another layer of fabric. You can use an old t-shirt, towel, or even a parchment sheet.
  3. Turn your iron on a medium heat setting, and gently press it against the shirt in small circular strokes. Iron every part of the fabric. For this process, a dry iron will work better than a steam one.
  4. Check your shirt and evaluate the shrinkage.

Tips for Cleaning Sports Jerseys

  • Make sure to wash your basketball jerseys after every game to keep them lasting long.
  • You should never wash your regular basketball jerseys or NBA ones whether it’s swingman or authentic with other regular clothes, zipper fabrics, or white shirts. Always clean them individually to avoid damage.
  • Avoid ironing your basketball uniforms too frequently. Most of the fabric does not need ironing. But if it does, avoid extremely high heat and contact with decals. It can cause burn marks and peeling of the iron-on decals.
  • Fold your sports jerseys correctly to avoid damaging iron-on numerals, lettering, and logos.
  • On average, it can take from 2 to 12 hours for your basketball garments to naturally dry at room temperature. Hence, plan your washing routine accordingly. (Note: consistently drying jerseys inside is not the best option, take a look at our jersey drying guide to learn more.)

I hope these shrinking instructions were helpful. And in case you’ve accidentally shrunk your jersey too much, these stretching instructions will help you out.

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