Ever wonder if do shirts shrink in the washer or dryer? Checking the label fabric on clothes, washing clothes in cold water, drying them on low heat, and air drying are all ways to prevent the fabric from shrinking.
If you’ve ever taken your favorite shirt or garment from the dryer and discovered it was the size of a cat after a wash program, you’re not poisoned. Find out what causes withdrawal and find ways to extend the life of your family’s favorite outfits with this guide.
Do Shirts Shrink In The Washer Or Dryer?
Do Shirts Shrink In The Washer Or Dryer? Clothes can shrink in the washing machine if they are washed in a hot water cycle with strong agitation, as well as in a dryer on a high heat setting that can cause drying. As a general rule, high heat increases the chance of clothes shrinking in your washing routine.
What Causes Clothes To Shrink?
Agitation and high temperatures during the washing and drying cycle can deform the fabric and cause the garment to shrink. Washing fabrics, such as cotton, linen, or wool, too vigorously can cause the fibers to get tangled together and cause the garment to shrink. Hot wash cycles and high dryer settings can also damage fabrics and cause shrinkage.
How Different Types Of Fabric Shrink?
- Silk: This delicate material is, unfortunately, subject to shrinking if it isn’t cleaned properly. Excessive water and force from the spin/drying cycles cause the fibers in silk to get tight. When the heat hits them, however, they begin to shrink in on themselves.
- Cotton: Cotton is perhaps the most well-known material that can shrink in the wash. When it’s in a spin cycle or simply drying in the dryer, quick movement can stretch out the fibers. When excess heat from the water in the washer or air in the dryer hits the cotton it relieves this stretching and causes the fabric to shrink in on itself.
- Wool: When it comes to shrinking in the wash, wool is another notorious offender. In the case of wool, most of the shrinking is caused by too much hot, soapy water and motion making the scales of the fabric tighten up.
- Linen: Like silk, linen is a fine material that can easily shrink when exposed to too much water and heat. In fact, most linens should be hand washed for the least amount of shrinking. Still, keep in mind that unless they have been pre-washed they are expected to shrink a little bit no matter what temperature of water you use to clean them.
How To Keep Clothes From Shrinking
If you want to know how to keep clothes from shrinking, you can incorporate the following washing tips into your routine that can help keep your family’s favorite clothes from shrinking.
1. Check the fabric care label before buying and before washing
The first step to preventing your clothes from shrinking is to follow the laundry instructions on your garment’s care tag. Make it a habit to check the care tag not only before washing but also before buying new clothes so you know what to expect.
Check the care label for a fabric that can tell you if the garment is prone to shrinking, such as cotton or linen, or if the garment has been “pre-shrink”. Some clothing may be considered “dry clean only” and should not be washed in the washing machine. Also, be aware of recommended water temperatures, wash cycles, and drying instructions. As a general rule, washing clothes on a cold, gentle cycle with low heat drying can help keep your clothes from shrinking.
2. Use cold water and suitable wash cycles
If you only remember one rule on how to avoid shrinking clothes, remember this: stay cool. Clothes are more likely to shrink when exposed to hot water or in high dryer settings.
Washing clothes in cold water will help you keep the “off the shelf” size. Avoiding heavy-duty cycles, quick spin, and high-temperature drying can also prevent shrinkage. Instead, use thin cycles and put delicates in a mesh laundry bag for added protection. When drying, consider a low-temperature setting or dry air. When in doubt, always follow the instructions on your garment care tag.
3. Select the tumble dry or air dry setting
Drying your clothing on a tumble-dry or air-dry setting can help keep clothes from shrinking by minimizing wear to the fabric fibers. Your clothing’s care tag will provide the optimal temperature and dryer settings to help avoid shrinkage.
4. Avoid over-drying laundry
Overdrying and exposing your clothes too long cycles of high heat can damage the fabric and cause clothes to shrink. Instead, opt for tumble or air-dry settings in shorter intervals in order to preserve your clothing.
5. Try air drying your clothes
Do air-drying clothes help prevent shrinking? Yes. Instead of using your dryer, consider air drying your clothes for a fresh, natural drying alternative that helps prevent your clothes from shrinking.
How Do I Keep My Clothes From Shrinking In The Dryer?
Clothes can also shrink as they go through your dryer. However, if you keep a few simple tips in mind below, make sure you don’t accidentally shrink more clothes in the dryer:
1. Again, check the label:
Do Shirts Shrink In The Washer Or Dryer? Some materials are best left to air dry. Always make sure you check the label for any washing/drying instructions.
2. Don’t use too much heat:
Heat is your biggest enemy when it comes to shrinking clothes. Make sure that the heat setting on your dryer is appropriate for the type of material you are cleaning.
3. Know that some items really shouldn’t be dried in the dryer:
Just as there are many types of clothing like bras and bathing suits that shouldn’t be put in the dryer, there are specific materials as well.
Many dryers nowadays are equipped with sensors to stop the drying process once all your clothes are dry. If yours doesn’t have that feature, however, you’ll want to make sure that you avoid shrinking by dividing up your laundry into groups–based on what is safe for each given material–before drying anything.
So Really, do shirts shrink in the washer or dryer? Clothes can shrink in both the washer and the dryer. To ensure you never accidentally shrink your clothes, always double-check how the tag recommends you wash them. If you have anything made from silk, cotton, linen, or wool, you’ll likely need to take extra steps to clean it if you don’t want it to shrink.
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