You just spent a fortune on that new, soft cotton shirt. You can’t wait to wear it out on a warm summer day. But when you pull it out of the laundry room after your first wash, it’s noticeably smaller than when you bought it. What gives? Do all-cotton shirts shrink in the wash? The answer might surprise you.
Cotton is an amazing material—it’s breathable, durable, and machine-washable. But because it’s made from natural fibers, cotton shirts do tend to shrink after being washed and dried.
In fact, most cotton shirts will shrink by between one and three percent after being washed and dried just once. So if you’re not careful, that new shirt could end up being a bit too snug in the waist.
There are a few things you can do to avoid this unfortunate outcome.
- First, avoid using fabric softeners or other harsh detergents when washing your cotton shirts. These chemicals can weaken the fibers in the shirt, causing them to shrink. Instead, use a gentle cycle with just water and a little soap.
- And make sure to hang your cotton shirts out to dry instead of airing them out in the sun—the heat will cause them to expand again.
If you’re worried that your new shirt will be too small after being washed and dried just once, don’t be—you can always try shrinking it yourself before you wear it. Simply put it in the dryer on low heat for about ten minutes, or place it inside of a warm oven overnight. This method won’t restore the original size of the shirt, but it should help to shrink it slightly and make it more comfortable to wear.
Do All Cotton Shirts Shrink?
The simple answer is yes, all cotton shirts will shrink if not cared for properly. With that said, there are certain types of cotton shirts that are less prone to shrinking than others. For example, Pima cotton shirts are made from a type of cotton that is more resistant to shrinking.
So, if you’re looking for a shirt that won’t shrink as much as others, seek out a Pima cotton shirt. However, even Pima cotton shirts can shrink if they’re not laundered or stored properly.
When it comes to caring instructions, always follow the laundering instructions on the care label. Cotton shirts should be laundered in cool or warm water and can be tumble dried on low heat or hung to dry.
How to Treat Cotton Shirt and Fabric
Most people think of cotton shirts as being easy to care for, but like any other fabric, they can shrink if not treated properly. To prevent your cotton shirt from shrinking, follow these tips:
- Hang your shirt up to dry. This will help remove any moisture from the fabric and prevent it from shrinking.
- Do not put your shirt in the dryer. Instead, air dry it or place it on a low heat setting.
- Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach when cleaning your shirt. These chemicals can cause the fabric to shrink. Instead, use a mild soap and water solution.
- Do not over-dry your shirt. If it feels too dry to the touch, then give it a little moisture, either by misting it with a spray bottle or by placing it in a humid area.