Have you ever found that shirt or dress that fits just right only to wash it the first time and have it shrink a full size? Isn't it so frustrating!
For most of us, this has happened more than we really care to admit. The disheartening part is, even when following all the instructions clothing can still shrink. Like me, I am sure you’re not willing to just accept that your next wash could destroy your favourite clothes.
Tips to prevent clothes from shrinking
Reduce the frequency of laundry day
Washing and drying your clothes often will damage the color and fit. The best way to combat this is to keep each piece of clothing clean so you don't need to wash them as often.
While this can seem like an easy solution, most women avoid wearing undershirts to protect from sweat stains and everyday wear. The right undershirt can help keep your clothes clean so you can confidently wear it several times before it becomes necessary to throw them in the washing machine. This is one of the best ways to extend the life of your clothes and avoid shrinking.
Read and Follow the Labels
All clothing pieces come with a list of do's/don'ts of laundry, most labels will specify the best way to wash your clothes to avoid damages. Whether this means dry cleaning, washing at home, specific water temperatures or laundry cycle, it's important to pay attention. If the label indicates it has been pre-washed it will not shrink as much over the course of its life. Clothing garments that are made of natural fibers (think wool, cotton, bamboo) have more stretch and may shrink less than man-made fibers (acrylic, polyester, and nylon).
Wash with Cold Water
While this does not guarantee that you will avoid shrinking your clothes, cold water is not as damaging on the fabrics as warm and hot water are. Hot water can cause your clothing to relax and release tension which will result in the fabric becoming misshapen. Most modern washing machines and detergents can remove dirt as easily in the cold water setting, but to ensure they are properly cleaned add a bit more detergent in your wash next time.
Air Dry Your Clothing
If you really want to do your best to prevent shrinkage, it is best to air dry your clothes. This is the safest method. If you have any loosely woven or knitted clothing it is best to roll it out in a towel and leave it on a flat surface to dry. Avoid hanging clothes on hangers to dry as the added weight of the water will result in stretching of the fabric, instead drape them over a rack or hanger.
If you prefer not to air dry your clothing but still want to ensure it does not shrink then select a lower heat setting on the machine and take the clothes out while still a bit damp. This will prevent the clothes from over drying which is harmful to the fabrics.
Tips to wash your delicate clothes at home
Choose a Gentle Laundry Cycle
One of the reasons clothing will shrink is because of stress on the fabric and seams, this is why it is important to select a gentle or delicate cycle setting on your washer and dryer. The longer the spin cycle the more agitation your clothing will be exposed to. This is particularly important when washing natural fibers like cotton, wool and cashmere..
Hand Wash Your Delicate Clothing
Alternatively you can hand wash the clothes you are most concerned about to ensure that they are not damaged. Hand washing can help to extend the life of your clothing, keep the colors vibrant and protect the shape. While it is time consuming it is certainly worth it for your most precious clothing. Another option is to use a dry cleaner service for your most precious garments.