A Cleaner World Blog
What Causes Clothes to Shrink?
The fit was perfect when you first purchased it, and now it is not. What gives? It does not matter the garment – sweater, t-shirt, trousers – all fabric is stretched as items are made. Then when clothes are washed, they are exposed to heat, agitation, and moisture; and therefore, the fibers shorten, leaving your perfectly fitting garment smaller than it was before. The good news is that by following the garment’s care label and knowing a little bit about fabric, you can avoid the shrinkage issue.
- Natural fibers like cotton, wool, linen, leather, and silk are more likely to shrink when washed because heat, agitation, and moisture cause the structure to change.
- Synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic, nylon, and fabric blends are less likely to shrink because they require more heat to change their structure.
Caring for Cotton
- 100% Cotton is likely to shrink whereas pre-shrunk cotton or cotton blends will shrink less over the life of the garment.
- Check the care label for instructions, but your best bet is to either handwash in cold water or machine wash in cold water on the delicate cycle.
- Remove cotton garments from the washing machine as soon as the cycle is complete.
- Hang to dry instead of placing the garment in the dryer.
Caring for Linen
- Believe it or not, linen is likely to shrink more than cotton because of its loose weave.
- Wash in cold water on the delicate setting.
- Hang or lay flat to dry.
- Avoid placing in the dryer.