Does Clothes Shrink In The Washer Or Dryer? – Tips For Preserving

Odd household chores are always indispensable for homemakers. Problems persist in every seemingly simple errand. For instance, surely everyone has had some laundry issues such as clothes being stained, creased, stained, torn, etc.

Does clothes shrink in the washer or dryer? In fact, shrinkage occurs only in certain fabrics, or you might not operate the washer and dryer properly. You can rest assured that today’s Clairoliviawayman post will give you all you need and turn you into a pro in dealing with incidents. 

Does clothes shrink in the washer or dryer?

How Is Clothes Shrinkage Defined?

Shrinkage is a change in the size of a fabric or garment, usually a negative change: a decrease or increase in the dimension of the fabric’s length, width, or thickness.

Fabric stretching is caused by force, energy, or an environmental change. It also creates wrinkled seams, flattening phenomena on fabrics, clothing, and deformation of decorative stitching. Hence, shrinkage makes clothes unsightly and no longer fits the wearer’s body.

During washing, clothes are soaked in water and swollen. Then, the dryer’s heat will dry and return them to their original shape. Regardless, over-drying causes the fabrics to begin to roll, makes them shrink smaller than their original size.

Besides, the tumbling during the drying also causes the fabric shrinkage. A combination of heat and tumbling can have ruinous consequences on clothes.

By and large, shrinking clothes will lose their aesthetic value, form, and original prettiness. It will lead to the disposal of the garments as these are no longer worth using and costs much money. For instance, one day, your favorite wool dress spans from size 26 to 29, so you get an expensive lesson.

Read: What Colors Can You Wash With White Clothes?

Does Clothes Shrink in The Washer or Dryer?


Most fabrics do not shrink but only “relax” to a small natural size because, during the drying process, their state is temporarily stretched. This tension may or may not cause the modification in molecular structure. Among other things, woolen fibers, in particular, are often very susceptible to shrinkage.

Synthetic fibers are made up of polyester nylon, rayon, or other petroleum-derived materials. This type of fiber does not change the molecular state or reform when weaving. What’s more, natural fabrics such as cotton or wool get stretched while knitting, and then the fiber’s molecular order is altered.

The machines’ chemical heat, electric heat, water, friction, or agitation make the “strained” fibers to curl in terms of washing or drying, leading to shrinkage. 

Also read: Laundry Tips and Guidance: What Colors You Can Wash Together?

What Causes Clothes to Shrink in The Washer or Dryer?

Why Does The Washer Shrink Your Clothes?

According to studies, homemakers who wash clothes at home by machine washing, the temperature (includes chemical heat, electric heat) are elements that cause the fabric on the clothes to deform.

The main reason is that the fabric on our clothes is made up of polymer fibers and chains. A textile is a polymer chain that is continuously spun, and material is produced.

The polymer fibers are dense and located close together to form strong bonds. Wrinkles appear when polymer chains are broken, usually when heat or external forces are present.

When washing clothes at too high heat, combined with the washer’s external force, it will easily cause the garments to shrink or wrinkle.

Why Does The Dryer Shrink Your Clothes?

Due to the cloth being in contact with liquid or excessive moisture, clothes become modified. Likewise, moisture, heat, and mechanical actions all work together to release fabric tension and deform – or shrinkage.

Which Fabrics Shrink the Most in The Washer or Dryer?

Washers or dryers are household devices that help our clothes stay clean. Nevertheless, not all kinds of fabrics can be put into these two machines.

Human-made silk fibers can shrink when washed and dried by machine. It is best to let it dry naturally.

Wool is a soft fabric and is relatively difficult to wash. As a result, with the washer’s continuous rotation, the wool may be easily fibered, tangled, or shrunk. It would help if you washed the garments with your hands using neutral detergent to ensure the wool fibers will last longer.

What’s more, for tight-fitting clothing like tights or corsets, washer and dryer easily cause them to stretch or shrink to the point of discomfort.

Read: Can You Wash Sheets And Towels With Clothes?

How to Prevent Clothes From Shrinking During Washing and Drying?

First of All, The Garment’s Care Labels

It is a signboard to help us take care of each of our garments the right way. You get a detailed explanation of how to wash, dry, and what you should not do with the fabric. For brevity, the information is represented in the form of symbols. Thus, please learn to grasp the meaning of these symbols!

Right Temperature

Heat water will easily cause the clothes to shrink, tightening the laundry when finished. Accordingly, it’s advisable to pick out the right washing temperature by checking the garment’s label in advance.

  • 30 degrees C: It is the lowest possible temperature used for clothes with thin fabrics, easy to tear, or faded garments such as synthetic fibers, pure wool.
  • 40 degrees C: temperature for cotton, linen, viscose, acrylics, acetate, etc.
  • 50 degrees C: for clothes made of polyester/cotton synthetic, nylon, cotton, and linen.
  • 60 degrees C: for bed sheets, towels, easy-to-dirty materials like children’s clothes.
  • 90 degree C: this temperature is only suitable for cotton and white linen that easily get dirty.

Also, for some specific fabrics like silk, selecting the dry steam method plays a vital role in keeping the fabric worth.

Appropriate Washing Mode

Depending on the type of washer, there will be various modes. Each mode corresponds to the washing cycle of different clothes.

Choosing the wrong program will make the clothes not as clean as expected, even causing material deformations, including shrinking, wrinkling, and fading. Hence, selecting the correct washing mode and sorting individual batches of clothes are essential to protect the garment.

Conditioner is Good to Soften Fabric

The softener has the effect of softening the fabric, lubricates the material, retains its natural elasticity, and improves the clothes’ durability. Not only that, but some conditioners also make clothes more fragrant all day long.

Be Clever When Withering Clothes

Adjust proper temperature carefully

First, of course, you need to understand what fabrics cannot be put in the washer or dryer by reading the garment’s labels carefully and choose clothes with less shrinkage fabrics like synthetic or pre-treated clothing. Moreover, some clothes are added extra protection in their fabrics for quality assurance, yet high-priced expense is noticeable.

Secondly, cold water is more preferable than warm water during washing. Afterward, in the drying step, make certain the heat level and rotation speed are at the lowest. Though it takes time, you could limit the shrinkage to the minimum.

It would help if you dried the clothes to protect them from moisture and then dry them naturally. In case you wash your garments by hand, beware not to squeeze them out of the water. Just gently drain before desiccating them.

Read more: What You Should and Shouldn’t Dry Clean?


Now, it is easy as pie to answer these questions: “Does clothes shrink in the washer or dryer?” and “How to avoid this incident?”. Most importantly, bear in mind the rules during washing, drying, and ironing in order to lengthen your clothes’ lifespan.

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