How to stop shrinking your clothes

Ljupco Smokovski /

Adult life is tough. It consists of deciding your own meals, waking up every morning, choosing your own bedtime, ironing clothes, doing the washing, and much much more. These are all pitfalls of life that are just hard. One of the worst mundane tasks of adult life is definitely washing clothes. It is time-consuming (especially if you were foolish enough to buy clothes that require handwashing) and fraught with danger. The most common mistake that “new adults” (and more experienced ones too) make when washing clothes is to shrink something. Whether it is that beautiful new sweater you bought or that shirt you have loved for years – shrinking clothes is a common issue. It is infuriating as there is no way to reverse it and if it happens your clothes are ruined. Read on to find out how to avoid this issue. 

In the past when my clothes shrank – I blamed the manufacturer. If I bought a shirt and it shrank in the first wash I would say (to myself or to anyone who would listen) that the shirt was cheap garbage and I should have known better. However, let’s face it this shrinking activity happens to the cheap and expensive clothes. The common denominator is often the person doing the shrinking. While we could try and blame the washing machine it is time that we took a good long look in the mirror and realized that we are the problem. Don’t worry before you get too depressed this is a problem that is easy to solve.

To solve we need to understand so let’s explain exactly why clothes shrink. When clothes are manufactured they are made with many fibers of various materials. The way they are made means that the fibers are stretched out into their longest form – basically they are manufactured with tension holding the fibers. If you wash them in hot water or dry them in a hot dryer (or even outside on a hot day) this can release the tension causing the fibers to return to their shorter state.

Clothes are made with various materials with the most common being cotton, polyester, wool and nylon. Clothes made out of wool or cotton absorb a lot of water and therefore are at the highest risk of shrinking. This means that even the most expensive wool jumper could quickly shrink. Blends featuring nylon and polyester absorb less water and therefore are less likely to shrink.

To solve this problem you simply need to check the tag to determine what is the right temperature to wash your clothes at. This may sound like a bit of a headache but the answer is really to wash all your clothes at a cool temperature unless they are filthy. Washing at a cool temperature will remove the majority of superficial odors. When drying your clothes avoid using a dryer unless you know your clothes don’t shrink. The hot dryer will shrink most garments.

There are some items of clothes that you can purchase that simply don’t shrink. You are likely thinking of one or two in your wardrobe now. They are either made from a material that doesn’t absorb water or they have been “pre-shrunk”. This means that the manufacturer made the shirt and washed it many times to get it shrunk to its current size. They can also simply manufacture the shirt with the fibers in the small state. Clearly, this is more expensive for the manufacturer as they use more material or have to go through a long process but this is why it sometimes pays to buy quality products.

Now that you know how to keep your clothes from shrinking you can approach the tasks in your house with a new air of optimism. Someday we may even post an article on how to enjoy ironing – the most boring task of them all.