It’s frustrating when you grab your favorite sweater from your closet, only to discover that it’s shrunk a size or two. Instead of fitting properly, it’s not too small to wear. The shrunken sweater look and feels awkward. This is an all-too-common occurrence that nearly everyone has experienced. The good news is that you can usually prevent it by following some simple steps, the first of which is to understand why sweaters shrink.
Not all fabrics and textiles are susceptible to shrinkage. Some are more likely to shrink than others. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon, for instance, are typically the most susceptible to shrinkage. In comparison, natural fabrics like cotton, hemp and linen are the least susceptible to shrinkage. If you’re worried about this phenomenon occurring to your sweaters, stick with natural fabrics.
It’s Not a ‘Pre-Shrunk’ Sweater
Sweaters are more likely to shrink if they haven’t already been shrunk during production. If you look at the tag, you’ll notice many say “pre-shrunk.” This means the manufacturer has already shrunk them; thus, minimizing any shrinkage that occurs from washing and drying. The sweater may still shrink somewhat, but it’s minor compared to sweaters that haven’t been pre-shrunk in production.
Washing with Hot Water
Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that washing your clothes in hot water increases the risk of shrinkage. When a sweater is washed in hot water, it may come out smaller than before. This is why it’s a good idea to get into the habit of washing your clothes — especially sweaters — in cold water. Contrary to popular believe, cold water is just as effective at cleaning as warm water. However, it doesn’t carry the same risk of shrinkage as washing with hot water.
Using a Clothes Dryer
Granted, it’s probably easier and more convenient to dry your sweaters by placing them in a clothes dryer than line-drying them. After all, it takes less than a minute to transfer your sweater from the washing machine to the clothes dryer and hit the “start” button, whereas line-drying is a more time-consuming and laborious process. Nonetheless, clothes dryers increase the risk of shrinkage by exposing your sweaters to additional heat.
Not Following Manufacturer’s Instructions
Finally, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding how to clean and maintain your sweater. You can typically find this information listed on the care label, which is usually found inside the collar.