How To Not Shrink Clothes [Easy to Follow Guide]

Your worrying days about your favorite piece of wardrobe getting shrunk are over. Read on as we discuss various points you need to know to avoid shrinkage of clothes.

It’s sad when you are just done with the laundry to just find out that some of your clothes have shrunk.  That’s terrible, an adult pant now looks like a pair of shorts or a shirt has turned into a baby jumper. Each time you regret it!

Especially, when you make your nice dresses by yourself, this becomes more of a tragedy. Numerous days have been squandered, and what do you get? A shrunk piece! If it comes to me, I would really throw it out of the window.

However, you must wonder sometimes, why don’t you know how to not shrink clothes? Now is the time. In this post, we will go through how to prevent the shrinkage of clothes. Read on!

Why Do Clothes Shrink?

Before we go any further it is better to understand why do clothes actually shrink. And the science behind it. We all know, clothes are made up of fibers. Some are of wool, some are of cotton and some are different types of synthetic.

In the making of clothes, these fibers are stretched to get packed tightly and form tension between them. Then, whenever we apply heat or water to clothes, these tiny fibers relax. Hence, the stretch becomes shrunk. Shrinkage mainly occurs during washing or drying.

Things You Can Do To Prevent Clothes from Shrinking

To escape the heartbreak of damaging your favorite piece of clothes, keep the following things in mind.

Know Your Fabric

Different fabrics have different properties, and also have different reactions. If you are a dryer person, keep in mind, the shrinking effect of dryer heat varies according to the kind of fabric. Some fabrics shrink a lot and quickly, some don’t. Knowing the exact fabric type and its level of shrinkage can save you from regrets.

If we talk about wool, it’s one of the worst fabrics when it comes to shrinking. If you plan to wash sweatshirts, shawls, or sweaters, keep them in a separate batch of laundry. They tighten too quickly. I would recommend washing them at a low heating level. The same goes for cotton.

Moreover, denim shrinks, but the ratio of shrinkage varies. Unsanforized denim shrinks approximately 8 to 10 percent. Whereas, sanforized denim shrinks only 1 to 2 percent. So, when purchasing denim, check that factor out, if you don’t want to tolerate shrunk clothes.

Read The Labels Carefully

Labels can save you from any garment mishap. The tag or label in your garment tells all you need to know. It clearly explains what to do with the garment and what not to, especially, how to wash it. Sometimes, we ignore it because it explains things in symbols, but you can learn it. I think it’s better than crying over the shrunk favorite dress.

So, the part of the label which shows the temperature of the washing is one of the most essential signs you need to know on the care label. However, if you can’t find the label, yet really touchy about a certain dress, your best bet is to wash and dry it at a lower temperature of around 30 degrees centigrade or 86 Fahrenheit. Although a lower temperature doesn’t prevent complete shrinkage, it won’t ruin the overall fitting of your dress either.

Some clothes also have a label of “preshrunk” which means they are already shrunk, the size will almost remain the same after the washing and drying phase.

Hand Wash Your Clothes

That’s true, garments might shrink less if you hand wash them gently. Machine washing comes with chemicals and then drying for an extended period of time might worsen the shrinkage problem. So, don’t throw your fabric in the machine and rest. Hand washing your clothes with a mild detergent and brush can save you from shrinkage. You’ll be pleased if you put in some effort.

Try Cold Water Wash

As mentioned, heat is one of the causes of shrinkage. Get the opposite, use cold water while washing your clothes. The bonds between the threads are less likely to relax in cold water. This doesn’t prevent 100% shrinkage but can lessen it.

Avoid Over-Drying

Repetitive drying cycles can cause extreme shrinkage to fabrics. Excessive heat and higher temperature in the dryer can mess up the actual size of the garment. If possible, let your clothes air dry.

Here is a good video to understand more about this question “how to wash clothes so they don’t shrink”.

FAQs Related to Fabric Shrinkage Prevention

1. How to wash clothes, so they don’t shrink?

Hand wash in cold water with some washing detergent to avoid shrinkage.

  • In a pot, take a sufficient amount of cold water
  • Add one tablespoon of washing powder, if you are washing one dress.
  • Mix it up well.
  • Soak your dress for half an hour.
  • Bring it out, brush it and squeeze it.
  • Wash with clean water.
  • Hang it on your balcony or window to dry.

2, How to prevent pants from shrinking?

Wash your jeans with cold water and mild baby shampoo to prevent shrinkage.

3. How to not shrink cotton?

Wash your cotton fabric in your washing machine’s at the lightest possible cycle. Add fabric conditioner while washing.

4. How to not shrink clothes in a dryer?

Less heat in the dryer means less shrinkage. Set your dryer at the lowest temperature and if it has an air dry option, it’s a bonus.

5. How to not shrink jeans?

Wash your jeans with cold water and hang them up on your terrace to dry them overnight. It will lessen its shrinkage possibility.

Wrapping it up!

To sum up, I would say washing your clothes with cold water is arguably the best method to prevent shrinkage of clothes. Try your best that lightweight fabrics do not see the inside of your dryer. However, nothing can prevent 100% shrinkage but you can definitely minimize it by using any of the above methods. So, try one and let us know how it goes!

Cindy Hallman
Cindy Hallman

Cindy is the Editor of all Sewing Guides at Sew Ways and has a background in Arts & Embroidery and recently completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Academy of Art University. She has been actively working on different sewing related DIY projects from past 5 years and have a good understanding of sewing/quilting/embroidery basics to advanced knowledge.

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