Garment manufacturers usually stretch out fabrics when manufacturing garments to save on the cloth used. This partly explains why clothes tend to shrink over time. Without external influence, a piece of clothing will likely retain its original size and shape. However, the tumbling and agitation actions during washing and drying contribute a great deal to the shrinkage. With that in mind, here are handy tips for laundry shrinkage prevention.
Dry Clean Natural Fiber Fabrics
Clothes made from natural fibers such as cotton, mohair, cashmere, and wool tend to shrink fast from the agitation in the washing machine. While too much heat also contributes greatly to this, lowering the temperature of water in your washing machine may not necessarily solve the problem. This means that the surest way to keep your fabrics in great shape is to avoid washing them in the washing machine. Instead, consider dry cleaning them. Take note that although dry cleaning involves a little agitation, the absence of heat and water makes it a safer option for natural fiber fabrics.
Use Cold Water for Laundry
The major cause of laundry shrinkage is the change in the structure of the fibers used to make the fabric. Depending on the type of fabric, excessive heat can cause individual fibers to shrink, leading to the shrinkage of the whole piece of cloth. This means that some fabric types such as polyester and acrylic may stretch out when exposed to hot water instead of shrinking. That said, if your clothes are vulnerable to shrinkage under heat, washing with cold water would be a better option.
Gently Wash by Hand
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), fibers in natural fabrics such as cotton, under the influence of heat and tumbling, can break, shrink, and discolor. The shrinkage process only happens to release the tension in the fibers created during manufacturing. To avoid or minimize shrinkage, washing by hand can help a great deal since it does not involve a lot of agitation.
Use Hangers to Dry Cotton Fabrics
The heat from the dryer is as bad as heat from the washing machine and the sun. In other words, heat can cause your clothes to shrink regardless of the source. With this in mind, choose safer drying methods for your clothes, typically those that involve little or no heat. More specifically, you can air your clothes on a hanger away from the sun or lay them flat on a folding table. If you must use a dryer, make sure the heat is low enough to maintain the structure of the fibers in the fabric.
Adopt Good Laundry Practices
Usually, fabric manufacturers provide instructions on the safe washing of different fabrics, as reported by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). For instance, while materials such as polyester may resist heat, others such as cotton and wool require extra care when washing. This means that you should adhere to the manufacturer’s advice when cleaning your clothes to prevent or minimize damage. Apart from following the instructions on the garment tags, other good laundry practices include, among others:
- Sorting clothes by fabric type before washing
- Removing fabric from the dryer immediately after drying
- Avoiding twisting clothes when handwashing
Use these laundry shrinkage prevention tips to avoid shrinking your clothes. Alternatively, you can use professional laundry services for your laundry needs. At Fresh & Clean Laundry, we are your one-stop-shop for all your laundry needs, whether it is laundry or dry cleaning. Visit our website or call us today at 619-691-7626 to learn how we can help you do your laundry and dry cleaning in no time.
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