How to Prevent Your Clothes From Shrinking

Oh no! You’ve planned your outfit for the day and now you’re getting dressed – but everything fits all wrong! The horror of finding your favorite shirt or pants shrunk after a wash cycle is real and common. And it’s made worse by the creeping fear that the snug fit might be a sign of weight gain! Never fear – shrinking clothes happens to all of us from time to time. But it’s a problem you can avoid. Follow these tips from the pros to keep that great fit and ultimate comfort that make for your favorite clothes!

The Best Way to Keep Your Clothes from Shrinking

There’s a surefire way to keep your clothes from shrinking almost every time. If you have the time, wash your clothing by hand in cold water. This method keeps the fibers from shrinking due to heat and allows you to care for your clothes personally to keep them in tip-top shape. Hand-washing can also keep your clothing from experiencing the wear and tear of machine washing. Some clothing even explicitly calls for hand washing in the care instructions on the tag! But not everyone has the time to hand wash every piece of clothing every time it’s worn.

Follow the Care Instructions for Your Clothing When Possible

The often-ignored care instructions on your clothing item’s tag will tell you how best to wash and care for your clothing. When possible, follow the instructions as closely as possible. As a general rule, delicate fabrics usually require hand washing or washing the clothing on a delicate cycle and drying on low heat. More hardy fabrics, like cotton or cotton-blend materials, can often be washed on regular cycles and dried on low to medium heat. 

Keep Your Clothes from Shrinking During Washing

If you can’t hand wash your clothing items, you can avoid most instances of shrinkage by washing your clothes in cold water. For extra care, use your washer’s delicate settings in addition to cold water for ultimate protection against shrinking. Washing your clothes in cold water helps to keep the fibers – which were pulled, stretched, twisted, and stressed during manufacturing – from relaxing into their more natural, pre-stretched state. Washing them on a delicate cycle to prevent undue irritation or avoid vigorous agitation helps prevent wool or other animal fibers from snagging one another and pulling the clothing into a tighter state. 

Keep Your Clothes from Shrinking During Drying

The best way to keep your clothes from shrinking during drying is to avoid the application of heat. As described earlier, heat can relax fibers and allow them to return to a pre-stretched state, causing them to shrink. The best way to avoid heat during drying is to hang your clothes to dry on a clothing rack. If you don’t already have a drying rack, you can use the hangers from your closet to hang clothing in a cool, dry place. Clothing lines and machine-less drying might conjure images of Little House on the Prairie, but hang-drying clothing is still extremely common-place in many European countries!

If you don’t have the space – or the time – to hang clothing on a drying rack or in a cool, dry place, don’t fret! Many dryers have tumble-dry, air dry, or low heat settings you can use to avoid most shrinkage in your clothing. High-heat drying is one of the leading offenders when it comes to shrunken clothing. Lower the drying temperature or cut heated drying cycles completely to protect your clothes cycle after cycle. 

Trust Your Clothes to the Pros

If you’re tired of reading care instructions on clothing tags or simply agree with most Americans that laundry is the most-hated household chore, we’ve got a deal for you! Hangers Cleaners offers a full set of laundry and dry cleaning services to keep your clothes looking great – and give you back hours of every week. Contact us today to learn more about our laundry service – including free delivery!