How To Prevent Clothes From Shrinking In The Dryer

Fred's Appliance
May 28, 2014

It’s downright frustrating when you remove a load of laundry from the dryer only to discover that your favorite shirt or pair of paints has shrunk to the point where you can no longer comfortably wear it. Allowing your clothes to sit in the washing machine isn’t an option, as this promotes the growth of mold and mildew, but placing them in the dryer may cause them to shrink. So, what steps can you take to safely clean and dry your cloths without causing them to shrink?

Why Clothes Shrink In The Dryer

First and foremost, it’s important to understand why some clothes shrink in the dryer. Dryers use a combination of heat and rotation to remove moisture content. Different materials react in different ways to heat, but most fabric textiles shrink when exposed to high temperatures. As the dryer tosses around a load of clothes in a hot, enclosed area, it forces the fibers to gradually constrict; thus, resulting in shrunken garments.

Know Your Fabrics

The shrinking impact of dryer heat varies depending on the particular type of fabric. Granted, most fabrics shrink rather than expand when exposed to high temperatures, some shrink more than others. Knowing which fabrics are the most susceptible to shrinkage will allow you to make smarter choices when washing and drying your clothes.

Wool is one of the worst offenders in terms of heat shrinkage. Whether it’s a sweater, shirt or any other type of wool garment, you should consider drying them in a separate load. This soft and fluffy material constricts when exposed to high temperatures. 100% cotton garments also have a tendency to shrink in the dryer.

Tips To Prevent Your Clothes From Shrinking:

  •  Dry your clothes on the lowest heat setting possible.
  • Consider investing in a sweater drying rack (uses room-temperature air) to dry your wool and all-cotton garments.
  • Read, and follow, the care instructions on your garments’ labels.
  • Avoid drying your clothes multiple times. One time should do the trick.
  • You can air-dry clothes by hanging them from the shower rod in your bathroom.
  • Use the cold water setting on your washing machine.
  • When a load of laundry is finished drying, immediately remove it from the unit and begin folding it.
  • Some dryers have a “tumble” setting which only uses motion to dry clothes. Use this setting when drying delicate clothes that would otherwise shrink.
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