Here’s how to shrink cotton, denim, and polyester for clothes that fit closer the way you want them to.
Most of the time, the art of doing laundry is about avoiding any potential shrinkage in clothes – after all, downsizing is one of the most common laundry mistakes. But sometimes there are exceptions when making your clothes smaller is exactly what you want to do. Suppose you accidentally bought an oversized item or put your last dream top on sale, but it turns out that it is a size or two too many. Or maybe you’ve recently lost some weight and don’t really want to invest in a whole new wardrobe. Here are the best laundry detergents to use, in case you’re on the hunt.
However, before trying to shrink your clothes, it is essential to understand why and how the clothes shrink in the first place. end up with an article that strangely fits.
We spoke to one of the nation’s top whitening experts, Clorox in-house scientist and cleaning expert Mary Gagliardi aka “Dr. Laundry,” to find out everything there is to know about how to shrink. clothes.
Why do clothes shrink?
The type of fiber has a big impact on potential shrinkage, according to Gagliardi. Fibers that easily absorb moisture, such as cotton and wool, are more prone to shrinkage. Synthetics, on the other hand, are hydrophobic and much less prone to shrinkage.
Another factor that can contribute to shrinkage is the tension under which a yarn is subjected when a fabric is woven or knitted. “Threads that are stretched during fabric construction will reduce their size once they get wet, unless a finish is applied to prevent this,” she explains.
In addition, the tension of the fabric during its processing will contribute to the shrinkage. “As with yarn, fabric that has been held under tension during production will relax when wet, in a process known as relaxation shrinkage,” Gagliardi explains. As with the yarn, a finish can be applied during the production of the fabric to reduce the impact. “In general, if a garment is going to have relaxation shrinkage, you will see most of it the first time the garment is washed.”
The higher the quality of the clothes, the less likely they are to shrink. “Special finishes and production techniques that prevent shrinkage are often used by better quality manufacturers because most people don’t want their clothes to shrink,” Gagliardi points out. “They want to be able to wash it and wear it over and over and make it look the same as when they bought it.”
How to shrink clothes
Regardless of the type of clothing (shirts, cotton, hoodies and pants / jeans) or fabric, from rayon to 100% cotton, the most common process for potentially shrinking clothing is to machine wash it in the washing machine. hot water and tumble dry at high temperature. Heat.
“The hotter water and the higher heat in the dryer will increase the shrink rate of any item that has not been treated to prevent shrinkage,” says Gagliardi – that’s just one of the reasons it’s important to ” use the best water temperature.. However, she points out that while a higher dryer temperature can shrink your clothes, it can also contribute to fading and can damage the surface of the fabric, usually in the form of looting.
Unfortunately, when it comes to intentionally shrinking clothes, you won’t always be successful. For example, if you buy pants and hope to drop them one waist all around, they may warp. While you can make them shorter and smaller in size by washing and drying them in hot weather, their width may not change at all. This is because filler threads, which run the width of the fabric, are much less prone to shrinkage than warp threads, which run the length of the fabric, Gagliardi explains. “Clothes shrink in length and waist because these pieces are usually cut across the length of the fabric,” she says.
How to shrink cotton
Cotton is the most likely machine washable fiber to shrink using the standard shrinking process of washing in a hot water cycle followed by a high heat cycle in the dryer. “However, finishes applied during production can limit shrinkage,” Gagliardi explains. “The best you can do is try to take advantage of the relaxation shrinkage – cotton fibers and threads feel it when wet – but even that has its limits,” she notes.
Relaxation shrinkage is usually reversed (think: pants that are tight at the waist when you first put them on after washing that relax a bit after a few minutes) when tension is reintroduced). “Tension is stretching the waist to fit. The pattern pieces for the waistband and pant legs are cut in the warp direction (the length of the fabric), which tends to relax more than the fill direction (the width). So even though some clothes get shorter with machine washing and drying, they don’t get narrower, ”she explains.
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How to shrink denim
If a denim item needs to shrink, you should machine wash and dry it. “But not all denims reliably shrink beyond the width,” she recalls.
There is one exception: Levi’s Shrink-To-Fit 501 jeans, which are intentionally designed to change dimensions in the wash. “The production steps that would normally prevent or limit shrinkage are omitted, so these jeans will shrink absolutely. But even these jeans, if you buy them bigger than the recommended size, won’t shrink any more than they should, ”she says.
How to shrink polyester
Synthetic fibers like polyester are much less prone to shrinkage because synthetics, unlike cotton, do not “stretch” in the same way. “Machine washing and drying can cause length shrinkage,” says Gagliardi, but it’s not possible to shrink an item to its normal size.
How to shrink wool or cashmere
Wool (which generally refers to most animal hair fibers, most often sheep) and cashmere (a specific type of animal hair) will feel when washed at high wash temperatures and with much commotion. “Felting is a physical phenomenon,” explains Gagliardi. Each hair fiber has scales that act like barbs on the outside of the hair, and these barbs fit into the fibers with agitation. “So when a wool sweater that hasn’t been treated to prevent this is machine washed and dried, it looks noticeably smaller. But he didn’t shrink, he felt. And, felting is permanent. “You can’t unlock the fibers once they lock, and the overall look is different – the garment doesn’t just shrink, the surface gets matted, and the fabric loses its elasticity. Worse yet, you can inadvertently make it too small, says Gagliardi. “Trying to shrink wool or cashmere is not a good strategy, no matter how cheap the sweater was! “