JAN 09, 2019 6:07 PM PST

Here's Why Your Clothes Shrink When You Wash Them

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Washing your clothes is an essential part of keeping clean and preventing irritated skin, but have you ever wondered why new clothes shrink every time you put them through a load of laundry? The answer lies within the fabric.

When clothes are manufactured, their comprising fibers are placed under a ton of stress to take the shape we want. Exposing these stressed fibers to heat helps to alleviate some of the stress imposed during manufacturing, causing them to tighten back up to their natural state (or as close to it as possible).

Heat from both your washer and dryer can impact shrinkage, so the best way to avoid unwanted shrinkage is to wash with colder water and avoid using high temperatures while drying. Many dryers feature a cool setting, and for those that don’t, hanging laundry outdoors to dry in the wind is an excellent temperature-controlled alternative to using one.

When it comes to clothing fabrics, cotton and wool are often the easiest to shrink with heat. Alternatively, polyester and nylon-based clothes are more heat-resistant and tend to hold up better when put through warm wash cycles. You can also purchase pre-shrunk clothing from the store, which helps mitigate the shrinking issue right out of the box.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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