What Material Shrinks In The Dryer Or Wash? Read This!

Last Updated on 10 months by Susan Mayrich

Are you wondering what material shrinks in the dryer or wash? Shrinkage is a real problem for many people.

What Material Shrinks In The Dryer

Improper drying or washing, poor storage, and even high temperatures can cause clothing to shrink in size.

While it isn’t much you can do to prevent shrinking, knowing which fabrics shrink the most and which fabric does not shrink will help you make better decisions when choosing what clothes to buy. 

What material shrinks in the dryer? Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, and wool shrink more than synthetic ones. Shrinking is much less of a problem for synthetic or artificial fibers used in fabrics today, specifically polyester, acrylics, and nylon.

Continue reading this article to learn more about what material shrinks in the dryer and what material does not shrink in the dryer or when washed.


Do Clothes Shrink In The Washer Or Dryer?

You should know that many factors go into whether or not clothes shrink, type of fabric, washing machine settings, dryer settings, and more.

What Material Shrinks In The Dryer Or Wash


Shrinkage is a common problem for natural fabrics such as cotton and linen. On the other hand, synthetic fibers such as polyester are made to withstand heat.

The shrinkage problem arises when the fabric is exposed to high dryer heating or hot water. 


Do All Materials Shrink In The Dryer?

Not all materials shrink in the dryer, but many do. Some fabrics are inherently resistant to shrinking, but most will shrink if subjected to hot water and high heat.

Polyester is made to resist shrinking, but it’s not immune to the effects of heat. If you have something made out of silk or wool, it

won’t necessarily shrink but will lose its

shape and become rough because they are not resistant to heat.

If you’re unsure whether a garment is susceptible to shrinking, check the care instructions tag on the garment.


What Material Shrinks In The Dryer?

Most fabrics shrink when exposed to heat, but some types of fabric shrink more than others. The most common culprits are cotton, rayon, linen, wool, and silk. However, most synthetics can be shrunk if dried in high heat.

You might think that all fabric materials shrink the exact amount under the same conditions, but this is not always the case. For example, if you put a 100% cotton garment in the dryer on high heat, there will be 20% shrinkage. On the other hand, if you put a 100% polyester garment in the dryer on high heat, you may see a slight shrinkage of 5%.

what material shrinks in the dryer

The reason for this is that cotton is a natural fiber, and it shrinks when it gets wet and then dries. Polyester, however, is synthetic and resists shrinking because it is not affected by humidity levels like cotton. You can shrink polyester if you use too high of heat. Even though polyester resists shrinking, it can still happen if you use high heat and lots of drying time.


How Do You Know If Something Will Shrink In The Dryer?

Even after you’ve washed a piece of clothing and removed the tags, you can still get a pretty good idea if it will shrink in the dryer. Read the care label on clothing as a precaution before you throw anything in the dryer. Some people remove clothing labels as soon as they buy new clothes; the label has essential information you want to keep track of, so there is no need to remove it from the clothing. If you are worried that your clothes will shrink, read the labels. Many clothes say “wash cold and dry low heat” or “cold water washes only.”


What Material Does Not Shrink In The Dryer?

So, what material shrinks in the dryer or wash? Polyester, acetate, acrylic, nylon, and other artificial fibers will not shrink under normal dry conditions. Artificial fibers do not shrink because they are created in chemical processes, not through a weaving process like natural fibers.

what material does not shrink in the dryer

This means that they are created in uniform strands that do not break down or expand when heat is applied to them. Know that you will also have to be careful about what temperature settings you use when washing, or you might end up with a few skinny articles of clothing. The key to minimizing shrinkage is to dry synthetic fabrics at low heat.


Which Fabric Should Never Go Into The Dryer?

The tumble dryer, however, should never be used because that would mean that the item would be put at a very high temperature which could cause damage and even shrinkage.

Even though some of our items might seem like they can go into the tumble dryer, they shouldn’t because of the heat involved when using a tumble dryer. The heat causes damage to delicate items such as silk garments, wool jumpers, leather, knitted fabrics, and bras, so never put these items in a tumble dryer as they could become damaged and shrunken.


What Causes Clothes To Shrink In The Dryer?

Clothes shrink for a variety of reasons. One common culprit is the type of fabric itself. Clothes made from cotton, linen, wool, and silk can shrink when it comes into contact with heat.

what causes clothes to shrink in the dryer

Also, the heat of the dryer is typically what causes clothes to shrink; when you put your wet clothes into a dryer, they are subject to intense heat, which causes them to shrink. Dryers use high temperatures to remove moisture from clothing quickly. Unfortunately, this also shrinks your clothing and decreases their life expectancy since it puts them under extreme stress.


How Do I Keep My Clothes From Shrinking In The Dryer?

Shrinking clothing is one of the most common problems people face when putting items in the tumble dryer. Therefore, as a general rule, only wash clothes suitable for a tumble dryer.

  • Remember to follow the care label on your clothing and never use high heat settings. In addition, some fabrics such as leather and suede, silk, wool, and synthetic blends should never be dried in a tumble dryer.
  • Use a cold water setting on your washing machine. Hot water is a significant contributor to shrinkage problems.
  • Tumble dry on a low heat setting. Heat isn’t necessary for drying clothes, so if you dry them on low or warm, they won’t shrink nearly as much as if you use high heat.
  • Avoid longer drying cycles. The longer your clothing spends in the tumble motion, the more likely it will get stretched out and misshapen.
  • Avoid drying your clothes more than once. It is important to remember that this applies to all types of clothing.
  • When your cycle has finished, ensure that you remove your clothing immediately and hang or fold it so that it keeps its shape.
  • Line dry any clothing that will shrink in the dryer to avoid shrinking your clothes entirely.


What Fabrics Shrink In Wash?

Many fabrics are prone to shrinking. The most common suspects are linen, cotton, silk, and wool. However, natural fibers may resist shrinking if the clothes have been treated with chemicals. When going about your laundry, you must be watchful of the temperature of the water.

what fabrics shrink in wash

The average temperature for laundering clothes is usually very high, and if you put pieces of clothing in it, they will shrink.  That is why the water must be comfortable for your skin. If it is not, use cold or warm water, depending on the type of fabric in your piece of clothing.


What Fabrics Don’t Shrink When Washed?

Most fabrics will shrink in the washer or dryer unless special care is taken to prevent that. For example, cotton, silk, wool, and linen will shrink when cleaned because these natural fibers don’t have any chemicals added to prevent them from shrinking.


Do Cold Water Shrink Clothes?

Coldwater alone won’t cause any shrinkage, but washing in hot water can lead to it. This is because heat causes fibers to expand, and the pressure from the expanding fibers on the stitching can create microscopic tears.

do cold water shrink clothes

Colder water helps prevent this from happening.


Can Nylon Go In The Dryer? 

Yes, it can. But it won’t shrink. Nylon fabric is a synthetic fiber known for its toughness and ability to resist shrinking. It is made from long chains of molecules that are repeated over and over to form the fabric.


Is It Possible To Unshrink Clothes?

You can’t unshrink clothes. However, there is a way to help them rebound. The trick is to relax the fibers and stretch them to their original size by gently washing and soaking them in water. Baby shampoo is best because it doesn’t contain unnecessary chemicals to strip the material of its color.


Does Ironing Unshrink Clothes?

Ironing can not unshrink your clothes, but the steam from an iron can do the trick. Use a warm iron on a low setting to get the fabric back to its original size. The steam created will help loosen up the fibers in the fabric and restore it to its previous softness and length. Be sure that your iron doesn’t have a temperature setting higher than low, as high heat can set permanent wrinkles in your clothing.


How Do You Get Skinny Clothes Back To Their Original Size?

You can try several methods to return your clothing to its original size. One method involves soaking the article of clothing in lukewarm water and adding a couple of tablespoons of conditioner or baby shampoo.  After soaking the clothing in the water, you should then wash it, as usual, using a gentle detergent. Once done, take your article of clothing out and lay it flat on a towel, removing as much excess water as possible. . Let air dry. Drying should return your clothing to its regular size. You may also want to read about keep your clothes from shrinking in the laundry.


It’s A Wrap!

Now, you’ve known what material shrinks in the dryer or wash! Many worries that the dryer will shrink their clothes, but they don’t have to. As long as you’re using the correct settings, your clothes shouldn’t shrink. Also, remember that all fabrics need different heat levels and air time to dry thoroughly. You may also be interested to know about does merino wool shrink in the dryer and in the washer and how to remove vinyl from shirts.

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