Shrunk in the Wash

All the same suit.

Clothing in real life, especially untreated wool, has a nasty habit of shrinking if you don't follow those cryptic symbols on the tag; and nobody knows what they mean. At worst this means it'll become a size smaller, probably just annoyingly too snug, forcing you to abandon it.

Not in media, however, where this trope is taken to the extreme. Even the slightest dash of water could reduce an expensive three-piece suit to the size of atoms. Even things that shouldn't logically shrink aren't safe from incorrect cleaning!

Most likely to occur in animation, where they can show the clothes shrink in real time, but not limited to that medium.


    open/close all folders 

  • Invoked by Aunt Petunia in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when Harry's sweater keeps shrinking every time he tried to put it on. Though it was obviously magic, Petunia came to the more logical conclusion, sparing him from severe punishment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Seinfeld concerns Jerry trying to get a drycleaner to admit that he had shrunk one of Jerry's shirts in the wash. As seen here.
  • Eerie Indiana has the episode "The Incredible Shrinking Stanley", in which Stanley gets splashed with special soap from the Eerie laundry mat and starts shrinking.
  • Mr. Bean: Teddy is shrunk in the wash in "Tee Off, Mr. Bean". Of course, he's back to normal again next episode.
  • The Saddle Club: In "Show Ponies Part 1" Ashley rode Comanche. Veronica gave Ashley her coat after it shrunk in the wash since it wouldn't fit her anymore.
  • Sesame Street has an episode in the 1990's where Baby Bear got a new tie from his aunt. After it blows away in the wind and lands in the mud, Baby Bear washes it only for it to shrink down to finger size, leaving him to spend the rest of the episode's plot trying to find a way to fix it.
  • In one episode Boy Meets World, Cory is making a The Real World-style documentary about his friends. At one point, his parents watch a clip from it of Eric doing the laundry for the first time at college, and Mrs. Matthews worries that his clothes with shrink because he's putting them in hot water. A minute later Eric walks in wearing comically undersized clothes.

    Video Games 
  • In the Costume Quest, the yeti monster turns out to be a guy in a suit; the reason why the yeti hasn't been seen is that the suit shrunk in the wash. Fortunately, it's shrunk to the correct size of a fourth-grader.
  • Day of the Tentacle has a puzzle where you must put a wooly sweater in a dryer for 100 years so it'll become wearable for a bald hamster.
  • In the opening of Chuck Rock, Chuck's Loin Cloth is in the wash, so he puts on some leaves instead.
  • Metal Gear Solid has Sniper Wolf showing Absolute Cleavage because her jumpsuit shrunk in the wash (which may or may not have been done on purpose by Decoy Octopus).
  • The Double Fine browser game Host Master Deux has Tim shrinking producer Greg's T-shirt down to size so Tim can wear it. If you use too hot a wash, the shirt will shrink to a tiny size and then disintegrate.
  • Toon Town Online features the Head Shrink enemy that will occasionally threaten you with the taunt "Do you shrink in the wash?"

    Western Animation 
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • "Donald Gets Drafted": Donald Duck is outfitted with an army uniform several sizes too big, which is doused with water and shrinks until it fits.
    • "Don Donald": At the end, Donald falls into a puddle and his huge sombrero shrinks into a tiny beanie.
    • "Pluto's Sweater": In trying to take off the sweater, Pluto falls into a pond and the sweater shrinks around his head. Minnie takes it off and puts it on Figaro, who had been laughing at Pluto the whole time.
    • "Hello Aloha": Goofy creates a grass hut to live in, but the rains cause it to shrink around him and it turns into a grass skirt for him.
  • In the Tom and Jerry short "The Zoot Cat", after Tom falls into the fishbowl, his zoot suit shrinks until it pops off. Jerry then jumps into it, and it fits perfectly.
  • Subverted in the Josie And The Pussy Cats episode "A Greenthumb Is Not a Goldfinger". All six protagonists have been captured by Amazon basin natives, who plan to shrink the Pussy Cats' heads in their potion cauldron. To prove that Pussy Cat magic is stronger than the natives' magic, Alexandra dunks her brother's shirt into the potion, which has no effect. Alexander's shirt was the only one guaranteed not to shrink.
  • This happens after Sweetie Belle washes Rarity's clothes without permission in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In this case, it's only one specific wool sweater that shrinks after it's put out to dry. Rarity is very angry at first, and then later realizes that the smaller size makes it a perfect fit for her cat.
  • DuckTales has the episode "The New Gizmo Kids on the Block", where Fenton's metallic Gizmo suit shrunk in the wash, allowing Scrooge's nephews to wear it.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Dress", Gumball is forced to wear his mom's wedding dress because his father shrunk all his clothes in the wash. When he's inevitably spotted by the other kids, they don't recognize him (in fact, most are quite smitten with him).
  • In the sketch, "Honey, I Shrunk the Clothes Trailer" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "K-Acme TV", when Hamton and Gogo get jobs at the laundromat, and they accidentally shrink Fifi's dress to the size of a doll's dress.
  • House of Mouse has the short "Car Washers", which ends with Mickey telling Pete that his car shrunk in the wash (actually, he, Donald and mostly Goofy had wrecked the car so much they decided to buy a new one as a replacement, but could only afford a miniature model). Pete is incredulous of this, but then he ends up forced through the car wash and becomes tiny, yelling at Mickey, Donald, and Goofy in a high-pitched voice.
  • In the episode "Rebel Without a Glove" of The Looney Tunes Show, Bugs shrinks his gloves in the wash, forcing him to wear leather ones until his replacements arrive in the post; causing him to change personalities.
  • Robot Chicken: In the "Big Horror Movie Brother" segment, Ghostface pisses off Freddy by shrinking his iconic sweater.
    Freddy: YOU FOOL! The label CLEARLY says permanent press!
  • The Simpsons: In "See Homer Run", Marge washes Homer's "Safety Salamander" mascot suit (since it hasn't been washed once since he got it) while he, as the Salamander, is running for mayor. When the suit rips apart while giving a press conference, the townspeople, having preferred the Salamander and not the man inside, don't take Homer seriously and he doesn't get the 5% necessary votes to win the election.
  • In the Tex Avery cartoon "Little 'Tinker", a skunk, trying to attract girls, mimics Frank Sinatra, buying a "Frankie Suit", a huge pile of clothes he's dwarfed in until he sprinkles himself with a watering can and it shrinks up and contracts, ending with him looking like a walking broomstick.
  • Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School has a group of cadets assembling a water bazooka to attack a guard dragon to get their volley ball back. Only due to a misfire they soak their commanding officer, after putting his wet hat back on it comically shrinks down to size.