Have you experienced washing your favourite dress and ended up with a 1-2 size smaller dress? Most of the time, we hear people say that the clothes shrink because of the heat from dryer. Is this true? Well, heat can be one of the triggers that cause the fabric to ‘shrink’, but it is not entirely true either because most fabrics do not actually shrink! In fact, most fabrics are actually ‘relaxed’ (not shrink) when washing, causing them to return to their natural dimensions.

Fabric fibers are linked by hydrogen bonds. During the manufacturing process, the hydrogen bonds were stressed as the fabric fibers are pulled, stretched, and twisted in order to form threads, which are then woven together to make cloth. The stressed bonds are relieved during washing, drying or other agitation actions, resulting in the fibers to relax and return to its natural, pre-stressed stage – or experts called it as clothes shrinkage.

Synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, and spandex are man-made textiles from raw materials derived from petroleum-based chemicals or petrochemicals. In general, these fibers are straight and will not ‘relax’ to its natural dimensions after washing or drying (except for very high temperature). Natural fibers such as cotton, wool, and silk are naturally not straight. During the manufacturing process, these fibers are forced straightened, stretched, and twisted, disrupting its natural fiber alignment in order to form the cloth. Inappropriate washing, drying, or other agitation actions will relieve the tension or stress created during the manufacturing stage and therefore, deforms the fabric.

How to Avoid Buying Clothes that Shrink?

Buy shrink-proof clothes. Nowadays there are brands that sell clothes which have undergone shrink-proofing treatments or with shrink-resistant and/or durable press finishes. For example, some manufacturers pre-washed or pre-shrunk the clothes before selling to ensure that the tension of the fibers are released and should not shrink any further.

The labels on the garment should indicate whether the garment has been pre-shrunk or pre-washed. If not, you can always check with the brand sales associate to inquire whether the clothes are shrink-proof. Alternatively, opt for clothes that are made from natural-synthetic blends, e.g. 50% cotton, 50% polyester, to minimize likelihood of clothes shrinkage.

How to Wash Clothes to Avoid Shrinkage?

As always, read the garment care labels to determine the best and proper washing instructions for your garment. When in doubt, use cold water setting to wash your clothes as heat from hot water is one of the common possible factors that can increase the likelihood of shrinkage. Air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer to dry the clothes. Remember, do not hang your freshly washed clothes for air drying as the water weight will stretch and further deform the shape of your clothes.
If you are still worried about the risk of causing your favourite garment to shrink after wash, feel free to contact us and we will help you take care of it!