What Causes Clothing to Shrink in Wash?

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A significant number of us are very acquainted with the shrinking of our favorite articles of clothing after they have been pulled from the dryer. Even though the dryer might be at fault, in addition to certain laundry habits, many different causes make the garments contract. The manufacturing process of the fabric may also determine whether or not it is going to shrink.

There are three sorts of clothing shrinkage – felting, consolidation, and relaxation.

● Felting shrinkage happens with fibers made of animal hair, such as wool, that consist of scales along the surface. When subjected to excessive heat and moisture, these scales mesh and compress. Compression shrinkage is the reason for the very common shrunken sweater syndrome when the sweater isn’t handled suitably.

● Consolidation shrinkage happens when dampness, heat, and mechanical activity (disturbance during washing & drying) get combined. The mix of these elements makes the filaments discharge the tensions create at the time of manufacturing the woven or knit fabric. The tension release disfigures the fabric, for example, when a shirt comes out of the dryer resembling a totally different item. Throw a silk blouse in the washer with a strong cleanser and wash using hot water. Then throw it in a dryer for 30 minutes on high heat. The difference in size will be substantial with shrinkage in width as well as length, with damage to the fabric’s finish.

● Relaxation shrinkage happens when a fabric is subjected to excessive moisture or liquids. When placed in warm water, the filaments will relax and in case the fabric is permeable (such as linen, cotton, or silk) or adjusted to be so (like synthetic performance fibers), the fibers would swell. Relaxation shrinkage is the reason for shrinkage in garments of silk. Wash a silk blouse with a mild detergent in cool water using your hands, with very little wringing action or agitation. Let it dry on a properly ventilated surface away from direct heat or sunlight. The difference in size would be minimal.

If you feel like the problem lies with your clothes washer or dryer, then reach out to us at Able Appliance & HVAC Service.


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September 2020




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