Most home appliances are meant to help make things easy and convenient. While they do this, they come with additional challenges. One such appliance is the dryer, which may lead to clothes shrinking and requiring one to iron them before wearing. What causes fabric to shrink, and are there remedies one could explore? This article tries to explain the basics of fabric shrinking. Read on for more details.
Fabrics tend to shrink for different reasons. However, one of the most common reasons why fabrics tend to shrink is that they are washed and ordered wrongly. Using the wrong detergent, when washing and drying in the dryer with too much heat, can easily because you cotton or cotton blend to shrink. Fortunately, the shrinkage is minimal and will not necessitate a change of clothes. Before rushing to change your kids’ clothes, understand the possible causes of shrinkage, and address them.
Causes of Shrinking
You are probably not the only person who asks why his or her favorite pair of jeans shrinks every time you pull it out of the drier. Reasons vary, but the most common variable is the use of too much heat. However, it would make very little sense if every fabric placed in the drier would come out shrunk and creased. It, therefore, means that several preventive measures exist. Knowing what to do to prevent your fabric from shrinking is what matters. You also need to know more about materials that shrink and avoid using the drier on them unless it is necessary.
Clothes shrink differently when using a dryer. The most common types of shrinkage include consolidation, relaxation, and felting. Felting occurs when the material involved in wool or animal fur. Thicker fabrics tend to shrink easily when the temperatures rise. In the case of relaxation, shrinking occurs when there is quick exposure to moisture.
What Happens to Cotton
Fortunately, cotton hardly shrinks with every wash. Even so, proper care is needed when washing and drying cotton. You need to note that preshrunk cotton fabrics will hardly experience any shrinking with washing and drying. This happens because the manufacturers already shrunk the fabric down to the size that it cannot shrink anymore. Pure cotton fabric will not shrink when washed and dried.
Cotton will also shrink only to a certain percentage. This can also only happen in a few of the wash cycles. Usually, the shrinking rate will not go anywhere beyond 20 percent. Washing will most likely not cause your cotton fabric to shrink. However, drying with very high temperatures may. To avoid such occurrences:
- Dry your cotton fabric out in the sun or in a room where temperatures are maintained at 75 degrees Fahrenheit
- Use the cool, dry setting when handling cotton in your dryer
- It is recommended to go for low or no heat when using the dryer
If you are not in a hurry, consider hanging your cotton fabric since this is the best method. To fasten the open drying, consider tumble drying on low heat to remove of the excess water on the fabric before hanging it. Remember that machine drying is convenient, but not necessarily the best option always.
Shrinking rate of Other Materials
Materials such as spandex, nylon, and polyester will not shrink. They are already pre-shrunk and cannot adjust. For instance, spandex, a synthetic fiber, is already treated to resists shrinking and water-based stains. However, drying them using a dryer will only cause then to wrinkle more than when you hang dry.
Despite the static reaction that you notice in the dryer, the bottom line is that the spandex material will not shrink in the washer or dryer. It also does not matter what temperatures you set to dry. However, for the best results and also to maintain the longevity of the spandex fabric:
- Always machine wash with warm water
- Use all-purpose detergent
- Add a few softening clothes in the dryer to prevent the static shock when removing the spandex garment in the dryer.
When properly maintained, the Spandex fabric will serve you longer, not to mention that it will stay vibrant.
Does 60 percent Cotton Fabric Shrink?
Sometimes, cotton is mixed with other fabrics to enhance its appearance and increase its durability. However, these blends will also not shrink in the washer, just like pure cotton will not. In addition to that, a pure cotton shirt is likely to shrink in a drier than a blended one. Remember that even pure cotton fabrics cannot shrink beyond 20 percent. This means that blended cotton wear eliminates the chances of the fabric shrinking when using the dryer. What’s more, blended fabrics are most likely treated; hence they will hardly shrink even in high temperatures. However, it is not guaranteed that the fabric will not shrink completely, especially if you keep using the dryer to dry it. To avoid any forms of shrinkage or minimize any chances of it occurring:
- Washing in a cold or warm setting is highly recommended
- Wring the material as much as you can
- Hang dry especially if you have the time to wait
- Alternatively, use the dryer for 15 to 20 minutes, before leaving it out to air dry completely.
However, just like it is with pure cotton fabrics, if the 60 percent cotton is going to shrink, it will only happen at negligible rates. You may not even notice that the fabric shrunk. All you will notice is that it may expand a little, which is a good thing, especially for your favorite pair of tight jeans that is difficult to wear most of the time.
What if You Throw Dry Clothes in the Dryer?
Users may want to know what happens to clothes that have been air-dried to prevent shrinking. Do they shrink when thrown into the dryer when dry? Well, the unfortunate news is that the clothes may still shrink even when sun-dried.
If your intention is to spruce up the clothes once they dry, make sure to set your dryer to low air. This may minimize the chances of the clothes shrinking, but may not guarantee that they will not shrink. Placing it in the dryer at the hottest temperature settings will cause the fabric to shrink. This happens because of the effect of heat on the fabric’s fiber. This means that the surest way of avoiding shrinkage is to desist from putting your clothes in the dryer. Once you have machine washed it, consider air-drying them.
How to Avoid Shrinkage of Clothes?
While machine washing clothes may be easy, the trick comes in drying them using a dryer. You cannot be replacing clothes every time you suspect that the dyer is causing them to shrink. This is not only expensive but also impractical. The different blends of fabrics in one garment can also be confusing. Note that the biggest challenge when it comes to shrinking will be witnessed in the dryer. A few things can help reduce the chances of shrinking if not solve it completely.
- Reducing the temperature of dryer, especially if you are fond of setting it too high
- Air drying should be a priority more so if you are available to wait for the clothes to dry
- Combination drying where you use air drying and machine drying on cool temperature settings is also a better option than completely using the dryer
Whether you are drying a blended or pure cotton fabric, make sure to use low temperatures to minimize the chances of shrinkage. While it is not possible to completely avoid shrinkage, low temperatures can go a long way to ensure it only happens on a minimal scale. Try your best to always air dry your clothes unless you are in a hurry, or the weather hardly permits this option to be viable.
You Need to Know This About Your Washing Machine!
If you’re noticing problems with your washing machine, you need to know what’s causing the issue and if you’ll need to get the washing machine repaired or replaced. Having a working washing machine is crucial for any home, and fixing it is just one form of home improvement, but there are many more.
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