Is there anything more frustrating than trying to fit yourself into a fashionable t-shirt, only to find that it has shrunk in the dryer? Nothing is worse than having a nice t-shirt shrink in the laundry – ruining the shirt and wasting all the money that you spent on it. Just why do nice t-shirts shrink in the laundry? Can anything be done to avoid this travesty?
Why do Clothes Shrink in the Dryer?
Cotton t-shirts are super comfortable, but cotton does have a hidden downside. The cotton fibers that make up your t-shirt get stressed out when they are woven into a t-shirt – but the heat of the dryer causes the fibers to relax and to contract. This means that your beautiful cotton t-shirt uses the heat of the dryer as a cue to return to its original size – shrinking in the dryer and ending up smaller than it ever was before.
Obviously, some t-shirts are more prone to shrinking than others. The more cotton that you have in your clothing, the more likely it will shrink when it goes through the laundry. Synthetic fibers like polyester don’t stretch out as much during daily wear, so they are less prone to shrinking once they are dried. The less a garment absorbs water, the less it will shrink in the dryer – as a general rule.
The most sure-fire way to avoid shrinking is to buy clothing that has already been shrunk! Our tall tees are pre-shrunk, which means the cotton fibers were already run through a heat cycle that caused them to shrink before they were woven into tee shirts, so they won’t shrink in the laundry at your house. The sizes of our garments are based on their “after shrinking” size, so you know that the shirt you buy will retain its fit even after a few cycles in the wash.
Follow the “care directions” on the tags of your garments! Whether you are buying a simple white tee shirt or a high-fashion dress or suit, you should always follow the directions on the tag when you go to clean your clothing. Many clothing items don’t respond well to home laundry machines, so the manufacturers recommend dry cleaning or careful hand washing to prevent the wear and tear that machine agitation can produce.
Furthermore, even garments that allow machine washing don’t always recommend that you use a dryer. You should always use your dryer on the lowest heat setting. Not only does running your dryer on the lowest temperature save energy, but it also prevents shrinking by reducing the amount of heat energy transferred to your clothing. Air drying is also an option for some clothing, and you can use spray-on fabric softener to give your clothing that “just dried” softness.
Buying Higher Quality Clothing
As we mentioned before, some t-shirts are prone to shrinking more than others. The best way to tell if your t-shirt is going to shrink in the wash is to assess its thread-count, or the density in which the cotton fibers are interwoven. Cheap t-shirts, those that feel scratchy and are translucent, are thinner due to the lower thread-count – while our tall tees have a high thread count to give them a more comfortable texture as well as to prevent shrinking in the wash.