How to Prevent Laundry Shrinking?


No one likes to finish a load of laundry only to find out that their expensive clothing has shrunk after throwing it in the dryer. Letting the clothes sit in the washing machine (without drying) puts them at risk for mildew or mold build-up. There are several measures individuals can take to ensure that their clothes are being properly cleaned and dried without the risk of shrinking.

How Does the Dryer Shrink Clothes?

            When wet clothes enter a dryer, they are exposed to a mixture of rotation and heat, diminishing the moisture inside the clothing. It is the exposure to heat/high temperatures that causes many fabrics to shrink. Continually rotating the clothes in a compact and heated environment compresses the fibers in the clothing, causing it to shrink in size.

Each Fabric is Different:

            How much the clothing will shrink or even shrink at all depends on the type of fabric it is made of. The majority of fabrics shrink as opposed to stretch out when they are exposed to heat. Wool is one of the most sensitive fabrics when it comes to shrinking in the dryer. Wool contains very soft and fluffy fibers that tighten up upon exposure to heat. Drying all of your wool material in a separate load will help minimize the shrinkage caused by the drying process. Also, clothing that is made of 100% cotton is prone to shrinking in the dryer. Knowing which clothing is more likely to shrink helps individuals make smarter choices before doing their laundry and cut down on expenses from replacing damaged clothing.

What can you do to Prevent your Clothes from Shrinking?

  • Make sure to read the labels on your clothing in case they have specific care instructions that need to be followed in order to prevent damage.
  • Try not to dry your clothes more than once. The more times your garments are exposed to heat, the more chances they have of shrinking.
  • One option of avoiding the dryer altogether is to let your garments air dry by hanging them outside on your patio or the shower rod in your washroom.
  • Using cold water settings when washing your clothes will also help prevent shrinkage.
  • Immediately removing your clothing from the dryer and folding it after the load is done also helps prevent your clothes from shrinking.
  • Modern dryers sometimes come equipped with a “tumble” setting that uses a gentler motion to dry garments. Using this setting when handling sensitive clothing will help reduce shrinkage.
  • Setting your dryer to the lowest heat setting before starting your load will also help.
  • You can purchase a sweater drying rack that uses room temperature air. This is especially beneficial for sensitive fabrics such as 100% cotton or wool.


            Indeed, finding out your expensive clothing has shrunk in the dryer can be a very irritating and costly experience. Taking the measures listed in this article will help reduce the shrinkage for individuals that want to save costs on dry cleaning and replacing their expensive clothing.