Do Clothes Shrink in the Washer or Dryer

do clothes shrink in the washer or dryer

How to Prevent Clothes From Shrinking

Have you ever pulled one of your favorite garments from the dryer to find it shrunk to a size fit for a child? It has happened to me a couple of times. It can be frustrating, especially if it’s your favorite clothing. So, I consulted with a laundry expert on do clothes shrink in the washer or dryer. Here are the steps they recommended. I found them easy to follow, and the results were remarkable.

do clothes shrink in the washer or dryer

Why Do Clothes Shrink?

Often, it’s because of high temperature and agitation during the washing and drying. Hot water and high heat can cause the fibers in fabrics like cotton, linen, or wool to tighten up and shrink. Think of it like delicate threads getting too hot and tangled!

Fabrics Most Likely to Shrink

Natural Fabrics

  • Cotton (including denim and muslin)
  • Silk
  • Rayon
  • Wool (including flannel and cashmere)
  • Linen
  • Bamboo
  • Viscose

These fabrics are natural materials and tend to be more sensitive to heat, which makes them shrink more easily.

Fabrics Less Likely to Shrink

Synthetic fibers

  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Spandex

Synthetic fabrics are more resistant to shrinking because they’re tightly woven and heavily processed.

5 Steps on How to Prevent Shrinking

do clothes shrink in the washer or dryer

They say prevention is better than disaster, and here are some steps you should follow to avoid cloth shrinkage. 

  1. Check the Care Label: It is your laundry bible! Always check the clothing tag before washing and buying new clothes to know what to expect. The care label will tell you the fabric type and recommend the washing temperature, cycle, and drying instructions. Cold water, gentle cycles, and low-heat drying are your best bets to prevent shrinkage.
  2. Use Cold water: When in doubt, remember this: cooler water is better! Hot water is the enemy of clothes with natural fibers. Use cold water for washing and opt for low-heat drying or air drying. Delicate garments can benefit from a mesh laundry bag for extra protection during washing.
  3. Tumble Dry or Air Dry Wisely: Follow the care label’s advice for drying temperature settings. Avoid over-drying by using shorter drying intervals. Air drying is a great way to prevent shrinkage, so skip the dryer altogether.
  4. Skip the Super Dry Cycle: High heat and extended drying times are a recipe for disaster. Shorter drying cycles with lower heat settings will help keep your clothes from shrinking.
  5. Let Clothes Air Dry Naturally: This is a gentle way to dry clothes and prevent shrinkage. Fresh air drying is a win-win!

Does Detergent Cause Shrinking?

how to prevent clothes from shrinking

Not usually! The primary culprits of shrinking are water temperature and dryer settings. However, some fabrics, like wool, benefit from special detergents that help maintain the fibers and minimize shrinkage. Learn how to clean lint from front load dryer.

Can You Reverse Shrinking?

For some fabrics, there’s hope! Soaking shrunken clothes in lukewarm water with a hair conditioner. Then, gently stretching and air drying can sometimes help regain their original size. Here are the steps:

  • Use 2 tablespoons of hair conditioner and mix with lukewarm water.
  • Soak the shrunk cloth for half an hour
  • Remove the cloth and wring it completely
  • Stretch the fabric for lie 2-3 minutes
  • Air dry it in a cool place.

Following these tips, you can keep your clothes looking their best and avoid the dreaded laundry shrink! I hope you found the answer to do clothes shrink in the washer or dryer.


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