It’s that time of year when we finally accept that autumn is here, and we pull out our winter wardrobe. Sweater season is officially here. Unfortunately, that can also mean danger. How many of us have experienced opening the dryer to find a brand new shirt shrunk twice as small? Fear not; here is a handy guide to how to keep clothes from shrinking this year.
Why Clothing Shrinks
Clothing shrinks based on the makeup of the fabric itself and the forces put on it. Some clothing is already shrunken, and washing over time allows those fibers to relax, more or less keeping the same shape. However, other fabrics are naturally scrunched in a way that putting them through the wringer condenses their fibers even more.
What Fabrics Shrink or Don’t Shrink?
It will help you to know which fabrics do and do not shrink with washing and drying. In general, most synthetic and plant-based materials will resist shrinkage, while natural ones from animals will not. In short, fabrics that will not shrink include:
- Cotton: This natural plant fiber includes denim as well as everyday clothing.
- Linen: Made from the flax plant, this fabric is great for bedding, but clothing often requires dry cleaning.
- Polyester: This is popular in many items, dries quickly, but needs a dryer sheet to reduce static.
- Nylon: Nylon, ever-popular for stockings, usually is combined with other fabrics.
- Spandex: Used in swimwear, some clothing will include this element for stretchability.
- Microfibre: Microfibre is typically a combination of nylon and polyester fibers.
Meanwhile, fabrics that can shrink are the following:
- Leather & Suede: Both made from animal rawhide, these materials can suffer damage in the washer and dryer.
- Cashmere: Cashmere comes from the fine undercoat of cashmere goats and requires delicate handling.
- Wool: These fibers are notorious for shrinking in the dryer, so low heat or air-dry is best.
- Silk: Made from silk worms, silk is a delicate material that easily gets damaged.
- Rayon: Rayon is a synthetic material that mimics natural fabrics.
How to Keep Clothes from Shrinking
Be sure to read the label before you buy any clothing. Try to avoid dry-clean-only items for a more affordable wardrobe. Separating the fabrics based on their washing and drying needs can help reduce any damage.
Read the Label
Read the label to see what the manufacturer recommends for care. It’s better to follow guidance from the start rather than improvise!
Wash Cool and Dry Gently
If in doubt, wash and dry with care. The more gentle you can be, the less aggravation is likely to occur. Use cool water as well instead of warm or hot.
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