Why Clothes Shrink In The Wash & How To Prevent It


We’ve all been there: you put your brand-new shirt through the laundry cycle and take it out hours later, only to find that it has shrunk two sizes. When you tried it on at the store, it fit like a glove, but now it’s so tight that it’s hard to breathe. What gives? Do you really need to buy clothes that are twice as big to prevent this issue? This inconvenience can be a costly one, but luckily for you, we know how to fix it:


Use cold water.

It turns out that reducing our use of hot water does more than benefit the environment; it also saves our clothes from shrinking. The heat makes fabrics relax and release tension—even though this sounds like it would make your clothes bigger, it actually shrinks them.

Next time you do a load of laundry, try using cold water instead. In addition, you can use the “delicate” cycle on your washing machine to help protect clothes; it uses a gentle tumbling motion to put less stress on the fabrics. For extra protection, consider purchasing a mesh laundry bag for your most delicate fabrics.


Buy different fabrics.

It turns out that certain fabrics are more prone to shrinkage than others—namely, those that contain natural fibers like cotton and wool. This is because they are very absorbent. When you wash these fabrics in hot water, they tend to go down a few sizes. If you’re looking for more resilient clothes, buy items that are made from synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon. 

It’s worthwhile to check out the labels on the clothes you buy. Some of them indicate whether they’re pre-shrunk or if they should only be washed in cold water. Others specify that they cannot be tumble dried. The instructions on the items themselves must be followed to prevent your clothes from being damaged or shrinking.


Turn down the heat on your dryer.

When you’re in a hurry, it’s tempting to crank the heat and let your clothes scorch until they’re bone dry. It takes longer to use cooler settings, but it’s worth it to save your clothes. If you’ve got the patience for it, use the air-dry setting on your machine, which uses no heat at all.

Another option is to remove your clothes from the dryer toward the end of the cycle and hang them on a rack to dry. Depending on the weather, you can use an outdoor clothesline. Hanging them to dry in your basement is just fine, too; it will increase the humidity of your indoor air, which is great for those dry winter days.

Repair your washer and dryer.

We rely on our washers and dryers nearly every day to clean our clothes, sheets, and towels. If either one is on the fritz, it impacts our daily lives. One reason why your clothes are shrinking may be due to a faulty washer or dryer. MQ offers appliance repair service in Winnipeg. We are committed to providing quality service; that’s why it’s in our name. Call us today for same-day service.