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Types Of Fabrics That Shrink In The Wash And How To Wash Them

    Have you ever worn a jean after a wash and noticed it fits you tight? Perhaps, you must be wondering how did you get stout within a day! Well, it’s not you, but it’s a laundry mistake you have made. 

    It is because there is too much heat-processed during your wash. Fibers of polymers that make up your clothing are naturally short, stretched to make clothes. So, while you wash them using hot water or air dry them using hot air, you apply heat that releases this stretch. It is why fiber of polymers return to their original shorter states, and hence you get mini versions of your clothes.

    Not all fabrics shrink, and therefore, identifying a suitable material will help you better care for your clothing!


    Cotton is a natural fiber that is popular for its versatility. If the fabric has not gone through pre-processing, then there are high chances of shrinking after a few washing. 

    Look at the label for laundry instructions. Some brands do include ‘wash using cold water,’ and if you do not follow it, your trousers will not fit you as well!


    • To prevent cotton from shrinking, wash it in cold water and air dry without a machine.
    • To avoid unnecessary mistakes, hand wash cotton fabrics. Use a subtle detergent, and do not scrub over the material roughly.

    You need to follow the tips if your clothing is 100% cotton. A few synthetics mixed, such as polyester, will not do any harm to your trousers, and therefore, you do not need to be cautious about the temperature.


    Wool is the comfiest fabric that keeps you warm during the cold breezy winters, and therefore, you cannot afford to lose it for a laundry flaw.

    It is naturally obtained from sheep, goats, and other cold mammals and is very long-lasting. But, it is highly liable to shrink when washed with hot water.


    • Wool fabric does not need to be washed frequently, and therefore, avoid spinning it in the machine and give it a hand wash.
    • Soak the wool in cold water for about 10 minutes with mild detergent before giving it a hand wash.
    • Do not squeeze the cloth to drain out excess water. You will end up stretching the fabric and use a towel to absorb the excess water before you dry it.


    Silk needs utmost care. It is prone to get damaged during a rough wash. Silk is a natural fiber obtained from silkworms that produce protein threads, and if subjected to heat stress, they’re susceptible to shrink. It is duly because silk fibers get tightened. Many also say that the natural glue present in the fabric gets activated, adding to the shrink. 


    • Look for the label information on how to wash correctly. Some urge you only to dry clean.
    • Hand wash is advisable for any quality of silk.
    • A mild, alkaline detergent is perfect for cleaning.


    Linen is from a natural source, that is, stems of flax plants, and therefore, it is prone to shrink. It is a natural fiber that experiences contraction and relaxation. When you wet the cloth, the fibers relax, and hence, while washing, they return to their naturally shortened size.

    Heat is also known to cause shrinkage, and washing in hot water adds to it.


    • Linen fabric can be soaked in cold water for approx 10 minutes before washing.
    • You can use the washing machine but make sure not to mix light colors with dark colors.
    • Use subtle detergents and avoid using bleach.
    • Blow-dry in warm or cold air.

    Final Thoughts

    Now that you have a list of cloth fabrics that are susceptible to shrinkage after a wash, on your next laundry, make sure to be well aware of what you are washing and how you are washing. We are often too busy to follow this restriction, but we do not want to buy new fabrics simply because of a wash flaw.

    Most of the fabrics need a cold water wash, including the use of mild detergents. So, for your next purchase, make sure you go for a quality-based alkaline detergent because the quality of the detergent will speak through the quality of your fabrics.