Because of the highly comfortable feel, cotton is one of the most popular materials used to design shirt fabrics. Super softness and moisture wicking technology combine to make 100% cotton garments ideal for active professionals. However, shrinkage has plagued the smooth material since the dawn of shirt designs.
Fibers relaxing during the first wash tend to shrink clothing made with cotton. Not only does the first wash shrink the shirt, it also can produce unsightly wrinkles that present a less than professional appearance. You can purchase preshrunk cotton shirts to minimize fabric shrinking, but by following one or more tips, you can still wash the cotton designed shirt and maintain the proper size for years to come.
An Overview of Why Cotton Garments Shrink
You get the fact that cotton garments shrink because of wash cycles. Nonetheless, it is important to know why washing can shrink the shirt. Cotton shrinks because of the considerable tension placed on the yarn during the design and manufacturing of clothing. Washers release the tension by applying high heat. Dryers, steam irons, and even sunlight can shrink cotton shirts because of the prolonged exposure to high heat. Significant heat applied to cotton is the reason cotton shirts shrink during the first wash. This is especially true for 100% cotton garments.
How to Avoid Shrinking Cotton Shirts
As we see, high heat is not your fashion friend when it comes to washing 100% cotton shirts. You should avoid the classic mistake made by cotton garment owners that believe reducing heat in a washer or dryer or simply hanging cotton garments on a clothesline will prevent cotton shirts from wrinkling. Start by making sure you know how to read the garment’s care tag. Here’s an easy diagram below:
Now let’s review five ways not to shrink cotton shirts.
1. Cold Water Miracle
Although reducing heat in a washer does not eliminate the shrinkage issue, washing your cotton clothing in cold water on a delicate cycle works wonders on vulnerable cotton fabrics. Instructions that come with apparel will let you know which colors perform best during cold wash cycles. Consult with an appliance dealer to learn about the washing machines offering the most delicate wash cycles.
2. Air Dry with a Blower
The reason why hanging cotton garments on a clothesline does not prevent shrinkage is because of the high heat generated by the sun. You can mitigate the effect the sun has on cotton shirts by hanging the shirts on a clothesline set up indoors. Then use a standard blow dryer set on low to avoid shrinking cotton shirts.
3. Go with a Blended Fabric
A growing number of apparel designers have turned to blended fabrics to avoid shrinkage. As the most common combination of materials, cotton, and polyester take care of the two most important benefits of wearing blended shirts. Super smooth cotton feels soft on the skin, while rugged polyester resists rips and tears to deliver years of high-performance use.
4. When Time Makes a Dryer Necessary
If time is an issue, you can place cotton clothing inside a dryer to expedite the drying process and prevent the shrinking of the garment. Set the dryer at the lowest setting and manipulate the control to produce short bursts of drying followed by a few minutes of the clothes sitting in the stalled dryer. You dry the clothing quickly, without exposing cotton shirts to shrinkage.
5. Old School Hand Washing
Yes, technology has made us reliant on quick fixes for a wide variety of problems. For learning how not to shrink cotton shirts, turn the appliances off and return to old school hand washing cotton garments. Many clothing manufacturers present clear instructions that explain how to hand wash cotton shirts.