How To Shrink A Gi

There’s not much more of an annoying feeling when you’ve brought your new gi home, ready to try it on and take it for a spin, only for it to be too large and thick.

A gi that is too big might get in the way of your combat and become more of a hindrance than a help. 

How To Shrink A Gi

Size charts are not that reliable in the best of times, so it can be quite difficult to order a gi that is the correct size for you.

But instead of sending it back in exchange for another size, there is another way to use the currently too-big gi that you have. 

Today we’re looking at how to shrink your gi in an easy way to prevent you having to wait for another one to be delivered to you. 

What Is A Gi?

A gi is a form of traditional uniform worn for many different types of martial arts, such as karate, judo, and jiu jitsu.

They consist of loosely fitting pants, a wrap around jacket, and a colored belt to determine your ranking within the martial art. 

They are worn by both opponents to give one another a level playing field rather than someone having an advantage.

They are also often used within the martial arts for grabbing and weakening the opponent’s defense. 

Why Might You Need To Shrink Your Gi? 

We know what you’re thinking – why on earth would we want to shrink our clothing? Most people actively avoid this while doing laundry, so why are we trying to find a way to purposefully shrink our gi’s? 

As we have already mentioned, it can be frustrating to get your gi only to find out that it is too big.

A gi that is too big for your body is going to get in the way and offer more excess fabric for your opponent to grab onto. 

A gi that is too long on the arms and legs will also hinder your training and you might find that you cannot perform to the best of your ability while wearing it.

If this is you, then shrinking the gi might be your best course of action. 

What Do We Mean By Shrinking?

What Do We Mean By Shrinking?

Shrinking a piece of clothing will be easier or more difficult depending on the garment.

Some are easy to shrink while others require a science behind it. 

Most gi’s are made with a cotton blend fabric, which means that they shrink quite well. 

However, bear in mind that cotton blends tend to stop shrinking after a few washes, so you only have a few washes to get it to the right size before you’re stuck with whatever size you get it to. 

How To Shrink Your Gi

Now we’ll go through a number of steps that you should follow to shrink your gi to the desired size.

You’ll need a washing machine as well as a dryer for optimal results. 

  1. Turn your gi inside out and wash it on a cold cycle. 
  2. Once the washing cycle has finished, hang your gi inside to dry. Don’t put it outside as the UV rays coming from the sun might damage the fabric. 
  3. Wash the gi again once it is completely dry, but this time in warm to hot water. 
  4. Put the gi in the dryer on a reduced heat setting until it is completely dry. 
  5. Now you can try your gi on to see if it’s the right size! Hopefully you should see that it fits much better. 

Bear in mind that your gi will stretch the more you wear it, especially if you’re using it for a lot of grappling moves on the mat.

So, don’t settle for a too-big gi and think that it is ‘good enough’. You want your gi to fit perfectly before you start using it for martial arts. 

What If Your Gi Is Still Too Big? 

If you have followed the above steps and the gi is still too big, then you must have got the complete wrong size! Don’t panic, though, as you can continue shrinking the gi by following the next steps, which we will detail now. 

  1. Put your gi back into your dryer and begin it on a hot setting. 
  2. Keep it in the dryer for 10 minutes at a time, checking the size of the jacket each time. 
  3. Once you have shrunk your gi to the correct size, leave it to cool completely and try it on again.

The reason why we mention step three is because we have experienced many disappointing gi shrinking expeditions where we get it to the perfect size once it comes out of the hot dryer, but by the time we actually want to wear it, it’s too big again. 

This is because the heat can shrink the fibers, making the gi feel smaller than it is.

Once these fibers begin to cool and relax, the gi can stretch back out slightly again. 

Checking that this has not happened right after you finish shrinking it, once the fabric has cooled down, will avoid your disappointment. 

How Much Can You Shrink A Gi? 

The answer to this question depends on the type of gi you have and the quality of the fabric.

However, a good rule of thumb is that a gi will typically shrink between 1 and 2 inches within the first 6 months of use. Throughout the next year, it will shrink another inch.

So, you can shrink a gi to fit a couple of sizes smaller than the one you bought. Bear in mind that cotton often stops shrinking after enough washes, though, so it will stop shrinking eventually. 


We hope that you have enjoyed this article! Shrinking your gi is rather easy as long as you have a washer and dryer.

You can shrink your gi a few sizes smaller to avoid having to wait for another one to be delivered, so what are you waiting for? Get the washer on – and good luck.

Christopher Anderson
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