How to Avoid Clothes Shrinkage? Update 06/2022

The sleeves of your favorite sweater or t-shirt may no longer reach your wrists after being washed. It’s not uncommon for laundry to shrink during the wash cycle. By following a few basic laundry recommendations, you can keep your clothes from shrinking!

Coldwater and gentle cycle washing is the greatest technique to keep clothes from shrinking when they are washed. The fabric will shrink if you use a dryer, therefore if feasible, hang the clothing to dry rather than use the dryer. When drying clothes in a dryer, choose a gentle cycle like air fluff or a short, gentle cycle.

What causes garments to shrink is discussed in this article. You’ll learn five easy strategies to keep your clothes from shrinking while they’re in the washer. We also cover how to clean delicate fabrics like cotton and polyester in this section.

How to Prevent Clothes From Shrinking

What Causes Clothes to Shrink?

A combination of heat and friction can lead to shrinkage in clothing. Most clothing can be affected by these two elements, although different types of fabric will react in varying degrees.

Laundering your garments isn’t going to affect them all the same. As a result, the fibers in each type of cloth react differently to heat and agitation.

Plant-based fabrics such as cotton shrink when heated because the tension that holds the fibers in place is released. The cloth can “shrink” when the fibers get shorter and return to their native coiled configuration. However, there are certain exceptions to the general rule that pure cotton clothing shrinks considerably when washed, which we will discuss later.

Second, textiles derived from animals, such as wool, shrink when agitated. Fibers made from wool are made up of many microscopic scales that rub together to generate a denser structure in the fabric when they come into contact with one other. Dry cleaning is required for most wool, cashmere, and angora items since they are too delicate to be washed in a machine.

As a last point, synthetic textiles like polyester are more durable than natural fabrics, and they don’t shrink nearly as much. A polyester clothing can still be melted, shrunk, or scorched by extremely high temperatures.

Do Clothes Shrink in the Washer or Dryer?

Using the wrong settings on your washer and dryer can cause some clothing to shrink. When it comes doing laundry at home or in a laundromat, finding the right washer and dryer settings can be tricky.

Before you ever get to the washing machine, you may prevent all of your garments from shrinking by performing one simple step.

Look for the manufacturer’s label on the inside of the clothing. Typically, this small fabric tag can be found tucked away inside a waistband or collar, or hidden inside a seam towards the hem of the garment. Pay attention to the label.

If your item can be washed in hot water and dried, this tiny indication will let you know if it has to be dry cleaned. Rather than having to figure out how to handle each clothing individually, this is a time-saving technique.

The type of cloth used in the garment is another important detail that can be found inside the garment. You can find the fabric composition on the label of the product. Typically, the label will read “100% cotton” or “50% cotton, 50 polyester.” You’ll want to know this information before you start washing your clothes!

Okay, let’s say you read this tag and discover that your shirt is made of 100% cotton and can be washed in cold water and dried on an air fluff or mild setting. Using your washer and dryer properly means understanding the many controls on the machines.

Two different knobs, dials, or setting mechanisms are common on most washers. By controlling water temperatures, you can tell the machine if you want it to use cold, hot or warm water. When it comes to agitation and the length of cycles, there are two factors to consider. A permanent press or delicate setting can be selected from the drop-down menus.

Despite the fact that most dryers just have a single knob or setting device, there are still numerous possibilities. Fluffy dry, permanent press, chilling cycles, etc. are all examples of these methods.

Learn how to utilize these settings properly to prevent shrinkage of your clothing in the next section!

How to Prevent Clothes From Shrinking: 5 Methods

Do Clothes Shrink in the Washer or Dryer

Following the care instructions on the care label inside each garment is the most effective method of preventing shrinkage. Learn how to properly wash your clothes with these simple techniques, such as washing in the machine, drying them in the dryer, or doing them by hand.

1. In the Washing Machine

Selecting cold water in the washing machine will prevent your clothing from shrinking. In order to prevent shrinkage of both natural and synthetic fibers, it is best to wash your clothes in cold water.

There are times when you need to use a permanent press cycle since the care label on your apparel suggests to do so. I don’t know what that means.

Use these strategies to avoid shrinking any more items in your washing machine!

  • A washing machine’s standard cotton cycle is a decent option for most clothing. It can be used to clean bedding, towels, or garments by running through a complete wash and rinse cycle and using a lot of agitation. You should usually use this setting if the care tag does not specify any specific washing machine settings.
  • Most washing machines have a “bulky/heavy/bedsheets” option that increases the wash time and agitation. If you have a large amount of heavy fabric or extremely filthy clothing, this cycle is the best option for cleaning. You don’t see this recommendation on a care label too often.
  • You should only use the Permanent Press option on a washing machine if the care label on the clothing states that it is necessary. Because it employs a short 30-minute warm water cycle to relax the fibers inside the fabric, this option can assist to minimize wrinkles in synthetic fabric After a hot water wash with strong agitation and a cold water rinse to prevent shrinkage, the garments are cleaned and relaxed.
  • Finally, the “Delicates” wash cycle is another important one to keep in mind. Lingerie and other silk or satin-based clothes benefit greatly from this setting’s slow and gentle agitation, short wash times, and cold water. You should use this option if the care label on your clothing reads “gentle wash” or “delicate.”

2. In the Dryer

How to shrink a shirt in the dryer

Dryers, like washers, have a variety of settings that you can use to keep your garments from shrinking. To be completely honest, however, skipping the dryer completely is the greatest strategy to avoid shrinking garments in the dryer! Even the most careful use of a dryer will not safeguard your garments as well as hanging them to dry outside or on a drying rack.

If you want to avoid shrinking your garments when you use a dryer, the first thing you should do is check the care label on each one. “Air dry” or a dryer symbol with an X over it appear on some clothing. If that’s the case, you may skip this piece and go straight to the “air drying” section at the bottom!

When drying other clothing, you might be able to use a low heat setting or a “air fluff” setting. Then, what does it mean to say that?

The following options may not be present on every dryer, but they can usually be found on the majority of them:

  • The “air dry” or “fluff” mode on newer dryers often uses no heat! This tumble-drying method simply blows the surrounding air over the garments. If you want to fluff up already-dry clothes without causing them to shrink, use this option.
  • The sensitive cycle utilizes less heat than a normal drying cycle. Use the “low heat” option on your apparel if it says so on the label. However, it will take longer to dry bulky or thick items, so remove them from the dryer as soon as they are done drying to avoid mildew growth.
  • If your dryer has a “normal” or “timed dry” setting, you may be able to choose between a 20-, 30-, or 60-minute heat cycle. The maximum heat and most intensive tumble action of the dryer are used on the “normal” setting to hasten the drying process.
  • Almost all dryers come equipped with a permanent press option to keep clothes wrinkle-free. This setting utilizes low heat for the most of the cycle, then changes to cool air towards the end to assist prevent creases from forming in the garment. The care label on many synthetic-fabric garments will suggest this setting.

To speed up the drying process, throw in a few wool dryer balls with your wash. Using these balls, you may swiftly dry your clothes and bedding by preventing them from sticking together as they dry in the dryer.

3. Handwash

How to Hand Wash Cashmere

To avoid tearing or shrinking, many delicate clothing must be hand-washed. Both “handwash” and an image of a hand in a bucket of water will appear on this product’s care label.

Handwashing is the most gentle and thorough way to clean clothes. If you have a care tag that says “dry clean only” and you can’t afford to dry-clean them, this is the best solution for you as well. Obviously, if you can, you should dry clean these items!).

When it comes to saving money on utility bills, handwashing is the way to go! A drawback is that this procedure takes a long time.

Hand-washing delicates is recommended.

  1. Set up a clean bucket or basin next to a sink for easy access. It’s also possible to utilize a sink with a stopper in it, but you’ll need to carefully scrub the sink first if you decide on this option. Makeup and food particles left in the sink might cause damage to your clothes.
  2. Take a bucket and fill it two-thirds of the way with water.
  3. Take a tablespoon of light laundry detergent and mix it in. Don’t worry if you don’t see a lot of suds when you swish your palm around.
  4. After that, soak each delicate garment for five minutes at a time in the bucket. You won’t have to worry about the garments rubbing against each other and causing friction. It’s also possible to avoid the spread of color from one piece of clothing to another.
  5. For a few seconds, agitate the garment in the cool water.
  6. Allow some water to drain from the wet clothes by lifting it out of the way. To avoid stretching, wrinkles, and tears, avoid wringing out or crumpling up the damp garment!
  7. Refill your bucket with fresh, clean water. Rinse the clothing thoroughly in this fresh water by swishing it around.
  8. Air-drying is the best option for drying sensitive items safely without shrinkage.

4. Air Dry

Air Dry

Avoid shrinking your garments by drying them outside rather than in a dryer. When you dry your garments in the open air, you avoid one of the most common causes of shrinkage: direct exposure to heat.

After washing your garments in the washing machine or by hand, you can dry them using the air drying method.

  1. Using a clean bath towel, gently roll each piece of clothing inside like frosting in a jelly roll cake. If you want to get rid of excess water from your garment, this is the method to use.
  2. If you have access to an outdoor clothesline, dry your most durable garments outside. Sheets, pants, T-shirts and sweatshirts can all benefit from this method.
  3. You can use a sweater drying rack or another clean towel to dry more fragile items. In order to dry both sides, you’ll have to flip them over.
  4. Using padded clothing hangers or a dryer rack is an option if you need to dry your items inside. A basin beneath should be used to catch any drips.
  5. Do your best to leave lots of space between your garments when you hang or spread them out to dry. If you have a fan, you can even set it to blow on the garments!
  6. When it’s warm outside, it normally takes four hours or so for clothes to dry. Everything inside may take up to 24 hours to completely dry.
  7. Before putting your garments away, make sure to check the collars, cuffs, hoods, and pockets for any lingering damp patches.

5. Dry Clean

Another fantastic approach to keep your clothes from shrinking is to dry clean them. Instead of using water, the dry cleaning procedure employs dry chemical solvents. Heat and friction are employed, however these levels are not high enough to cause any shrinkage in clothing.

So, does dry-cleaning shrink garments?? Dry cleaning, on the other hand, has a far gentler effect on garments than a washing machine or a drying machine. In addition, dry cleaners take extra care with sensitive things because they realize they have a professional responsibility to return your clothes in great condition.

Dry cleaning, of course, is more expensive than washing your own clothes. Chemicals that may not be ideal for regular use are also present in this product. But it’s a great technique to keep your clothes from shrinking!

Do Clothes Shrink Over Time?

Many garments do, in fact, lose their shape over time. This gradual shrinking may not be seen if you take care of your clothing properly! The manufacturing procedure of the fabric is to blame for this gradual shrinkage.

Yarns and threads are found in most fabrics. Thousands of microscopic threads are twisted together into a single strand in each strand of yarn. Yarns are made by stretching out minuscule fibers into a straight line under a lot of effort.

The pulled-tight straight line will gradually relax the fibers over time. The strands will gradually get shorter as the fibers resume their natural curled structure. This results in the fabric shrinking as a whole.

Keeping your clothing away from the conditions that relax fibers can help prevent much of this shrinking. It’s important to keep friction and heat to a minimum.

Does Fabric Softener Shrink Clothes?

Clothes are not shrunk when using fabric softener, but they can be damaged in other ways. If you’ve had a laundry disaster and need to make some quick fixes, fabric softener can be a lifesaver!

Fabric softener poses a risk to garments because it accumulates over time and forms a barrier over the fibers, preventing soap and water from reaching the material to clean it. For synthetic materials, this is especially true.

Will Clothes Shrink in a Cold Wash?

Even with a cold wash in the washing machine, some items will shrink. This occurs because even a cold wash requires a lot of agitation throughout the wash cycle, which can cause certain fabrics to shrink.

Because its fibers interlock and form a dense felt when subjected to such agitation, wool, in particular, shrinks even in cold water.

Prior to laundering, you should always check the care label on your clothing. To avoid shrinking, some garments must be handwashed or dry-cleaned.

Best Tumble Dryer That Doesn’t Shrink Clothes

Tumble dryers with innovative and pricey technologies like tanks for evaporating moisture from clothing are the best at not shrinking clothes. Rather than relying on an outside vent, these dryers use a heat-pump operation mechanism.

For the best alternatives for preventing shrinking, check for the following qualities in a high-end dryer:

  • A heat pump dryer with an unique moisture collection tank.
  • sensors that detect whether or not clothing is wet or dry, and then turn themselves off to save energy. It’s a great feature since it keeps your garments from getting too hot and shrinking during a long wash cycle.
  • Allows you greater control over what type of cycle is appropriate for what type of fabric. Even with their higher price tags, these dryers are still more expensive than a normal manual unit with preset options like permanent press or regular.

Samsung, Bosch, and AEG are just a few of the well-known manufacturers of these high-end dryers.

Best Way to Wash Clothes Without Shrinking:

For cotton, polyester, and silk clothing, utilize these guidelines to find the best non-shrinking solution!

Cotton Clothes

There are many variables that play a role in determining the best technique to wash cotton clothing without shrinking it.

To begin, recent developments in the clothing industry demonstrate that many cotton garments are now pre-shrinked before they are sold. T-shirts, jeans, and other cotton clothing won’t shrink as much when washed with this technique. You’ll be able to wash and dry the items if they have a care label inside of them.

As a second consideration, you must take into account how unclean your cotton clothing is before making a washing choice. When it comes to cleaning your underwear and socks, you may need to use hot water.

When it comes to washing cotton clothing, the safest technique to avoid shrinkage is to use cold water and hang the garments to dry naturally.

Polyester Clothes

It’s easy to clean polyester clothes because they’re made out of plastic! The majority of the time, synthetic textiles can be washed in the washing machine.

When washing and drying this type of fabric, manufacturers normally recommend using permanent press settings. It helps to keep creases at bay and does not cause the polyester to melt or shrink.

Silk or Delicate Clothes

Silk and other delicates should almost always be washed by hand. Dry cleaning is not permitted on some silk goods! The care tag inside silk garments may, in rare situations, allow the delicate setting on the washing machine to cycle.

Anything made of wool usually necessitates the same level of gentle handling. The tag inside your beloved sweater may contain acrylic instead of wool, so be sure to check! Wool sweaters must be hand-washed, even if you plan to wash your synthetic ones in the washing machine.

How to Unshrink Clothes

A laundry room disaster can leave you with clothing that are too small, but you can try a handful of these tricks to get them back in the right size! Of course, the greatest solution is to avoid shrinking in the first place by following the five basic care strategies outlined in this article.

  • Soaking and stretching garments can help them recover from shrinkage. Add a few tablespoons of either baby shampoo, hair conditioner, or fabric softener to a pail of water. Allow the garment to soak for 30 minutes. Let it dry on a towel, then gently stretch it out again with your hands.
  • If you’re in a hurry and need your garments unshrunk, consider using a portable clothing steamer. Next, gently tug on the garments with your hands, pulling on both sides at once.
  • Try dampening your jeans or khakis with warm water and then putting them on to stretch them back into form if you accidently shrink them!


Reading the care label on the inside of the garment and following its recommendations is the best approach to avoid shrinking clothing. If you’re concerned about shrinkage, you may want to use cold water in your washing machine. Permanent press and air fluff dryer settings might also assist avoid shrinkage.

Hand washing and air drying each item of clothing is the most gentle method of garment care. By eliminating the friction and heat generated by the washing machine and dryer, your garments will not shrink to their original size.

How do you like to take care of your clothes? Do they prevent the shrinkage of your clothes? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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