Finally! The Real Reason Your Clothes Are Shrinking in the Wash

Tiny shirts, no more!

If you’ve ever done laundry (like, ever), you’ve probably shrunk a favorite sweater or two. There is no heart-wrenching tragedy quite like pulling a garment out of the washing machine, only to discover that it’s now small enough to fit your cat. And you’re not alone; shrinking laundry is one of the most common laundry mistakes. So what’s the deal?

According to Business Insider, it’s likely that your laundry is getting too hot. Washing clothes in hot water (or drying them using hot air) shrinks the fabric. Although fibers of polymer are naturally short, they are stretched out when made into clothes. Applying any kind of heat releases that tension, making the fibers return to their natural (and shorter!) state. Hence the miniaturized shirts and shorts.

How to avoid shrinking your clothes

Luckily, avoiding shrinkage is easier than you think. Just make sure to check the garment’s tag to determine the kind of fabric that it’s made of. Because cotton and wool both absorb quite a bit of water, they will shrink faster, so you should wash those garments in cold water. Natural-synthetic blends like nylon and polyester, on the other hand, absorb less water and are thus more heat-resistant.

You can also stick to shrink-proof or pre-shrunk clothes, which won’t shrink after being washed. Why? The tension in the fibers has already been released by its many cycles through the manufacturer’s washing machine. Now, check out even more easy tips to not ruin your clothes in the laundry.


  • Business Insider: Here’s Why Clothes Shrink in the Wash—And How to Prevent It