Will my Clothes Shrink in the Dryer?
Whether or not your clothes will shrink in the dryer depends on the fabric they are made from. Most natural fabrics like cotton, wool, and linen can shrink if they’re not washed or dried properly. On the other hand, synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and spandex are engineered to have little to no shrinkage.
Cotton has the most potential to shrink. Cotton fabrics can be subject to the highest temperatures in the dryer and when the shape of the fibers changes, the fabric shrinks. To minimize shrinkage, cotton clothes should be:
- Washed in cool or warm water– using hot water can cause cotton fabric to shrink
- Dried on low or no heat – the heat of the dryer breaks down the fibers which can lead to shrinking
- Hang dried – hang drying your clothes will eliminate any potential risk of shrinkage whatsoever
Because they are made from man-made fibers, most synthetic fabrics have little to no shrinkage. They can be dried in the high-heat dryer cycle with no fear of shrinkage.
If you notice that your clothes have already shrunk, there may be some steps you can take to restore them to their original size. To unshrink clothes, you can:
- Soak them in a mixture of fabric softener and lukewarm water -the fabric softener will relax the fibers and help them stretch back out
- Gently stretch them out – when the clothes are wet, you can stretch them back out to their original size
- Dry them laid out flat – after you’ve stretched out the clothes, lay them flat on a towel and let them air dry
By taking extra care when washing and drying your clothes, you can minimize the risk of them shrinking. And if you do happen to shrink a few pieces, there are steps you can take to restore them back to their original size.