What Causes Clothes To Shrink: Prevention Guide
If you spend a long time finding the perfect-sized shirts or pants, you’ll know how frustrating it can be to have them shrink. But what causes clothes to shrink, and what can you do to avoid this common issue? Below, you’ll find a few laundry tips to prevent shrinkage.
What Does It Mean When Clothes Shrink?
Clothing shrinkage is just what it sounds like: shirts, pants, and other fabric garments getting smaller than they used to be. Your best pair of jeans might become unwanted highwaters, your go-to T-shirt might look more like a crop top, and your favorite sweater might get too tight around the chest. Shrinking usually happens when you wash and dry your clothes.
Why Does Clothing Shrink?
You can only solve a problem once you identify and understand its reason. To avoid shrinkage, you’ll want to know what causes clothes to shrink in the first place. There are four basic types of shrinkage:
- Relaxation: Silk, linen, cotton, wool, and other fabrics may expand (or relax) in warm water temperatures. However, the natural fibers might curl tighter once they dry, leaving your garments smaller than their original size.
- Consolidation: Consolidation shrinkage occurs when moisture, heat, and mechanical washing affect your clothing. These processes can soften the fibers and compress (or consolidate) the flat surface, causing your clothes to shrink accidentally.
- Contraction: Another common cause of clothing shrinkage is contraction. This often happens when you use high heat for drying and pull all the natural moisture out of the fabric. Wool and cotton clothing are especially susceptible to contraction shrinkage.
- Felting: Natural fabrics containing animal hair fibers have microscopic scales that can gently squeeze together when exposed to hot water and air. This process (known as felting) causes your clothes to shrink.
How Do You Prevent Clothes From Shrinking?
Having your clothes shrink in the wash can be irritating. However, it is preventable. The following are some practical steps you can take to avoid clothing shrinkage:
- Follow the care label instructions: Pullovers, button-ups, sweatpants, and other clothes come with labels that tell you how to care for them. You should always read the fabric care labels and follow the washing instructions to reduce the chance of shrinkage.
- Use cold water: Hot water can damage your clothing and cause it to shrink. It’s best to use cold or lukewarm water for most fabric types.
- Let the clothes air dry: Do you constantly struggle with shrinking clothes? It could be due to excessive drying. A great way to remedy this is by using a low heat setting or letting the garments air dry using the air-drying setting.
Elite Cleaners: Your Go-to Laundry Service in Wichita, KS
Consider sending your laundry to a reliable dry cleaning company if you’re concerned about shrinkage when washing clothes. At Elite Cleaners, we know what causes clothes to shrink and how to prevent shrinking and even unshrink clothes. Our full suite of services provides top-quality solutions for all your laundry needs.
Avoid shrinking clothes with the help of Elite Cleaners. Call us at (316) 651-5997 to get started today!