Do Dryers Shrink Clothes?

One of the worst washday letdowns is removing a favourite shirt or pair of jeans from the dryer only to see that it’s shrunk in size. Many people believe that it’s the heat of the dryer that causes clothes to shrink, but this isn’t the case.

Turning the heat down on your dryer will not prevent your clothes from shrinking. Shrinkage occurs due to the nature of fabric, not the intensity of heat. Manufacturers often stretch natural fibre clothing, like items made from cotton, in order to use less material. When the fabric becomes wet, it contracts and unless it is stretched again, it will often dry in its reduced size. This is why a 100 per cent cotton shirt is much more prone to shrinkage than one made from polyester, rayon or a similar synthetic material.

So how can you prevent shrinkage? Follow these tips to reduce the risk of clothes shrinking in the dryer:

  • Choose pre-shrunk cotton clothing. Pre-shrunk clothes are not stretched the way other types of shirts are, so they are less likely to shrink.
  • Read the care instructions. Some clothes specifically say, “line dry only” and should not be put in the dryer.
  • Use a lower tumbling setting. While the heat from the dryer does not make clothes shrink, spinning clothes at too high a speed can exacerbate shrinkage.
  • Pull and shake your natural fibre clothing when you take it out of the washing machine. This will stretch out the fabric and fight the effects of shrinkage.

Because shrinkage is related to the nature of natural fibres more so than the operation of the dryer, problems with clothing shrinking are usually not an indication that dryer repairs are necessary; however, if you’re concerned about other aspects of your dryer’s performance give us a call at Matic Service. We’ll be glad to come out and have a look.