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Does Cotton Shrink in the Wash?

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MHumans have used cotton as clothing for thousands of years, with evidence of its use dating back more than 7,000 years. Cotton fabric, derived from the fibers surrounding the seeds of cotton plants, comes with a host of benefits within the clothing industry. It is comfortable, naturally sustainable, hypoallergenic, odor-free, low maintenance, affordable, and versatile. If you own cotton materials, you are likely wondering does cotton shrink in the wash? In this blog post, we will highlight everything you need to know about cotton and whether or not it shrinks in the wash. We will also look at some of the most popular cotton blends so you can properly understand how to care for your cotton clothing.

Does Cotton Shrink in the Wash?

The simple answer here is yes, cotton is prone to shrinking in the wash, particularly when subjected to extremes of temperature. During the construction of a piece of cotton clothing, tension is applied to the yard and fabrics. When subjected to heat from a washer or dryer, this tension is released, which results in the material shrinking.

The good news is that there are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent the risk of cotton clothing shrinking in the wash. For example, you can wash your cotton clothing in cold water, use the preset “delicate” cycle, or hand-wash it to avoid shrinkage. These steps will help to prolong the lifespan of cotton clothing items.

How Much Does 100% Cotton Shrink?

100% cotton refers to cotton fabric that has not been blended with another material. The amount that 100% cotton shrinks depends firstly on whether or not it has been pre-shrunk before purchase. Pre-shrinking refers to a method whereby a fabric is shrunk by the manufacturer so that it will not shrink—or at least not shrink very much—when washed by the owner.

Pre-shrunk 100% cotton may shrink by up to 5%, which isn’t much. On the other hand, cotton clothing that has not been pre-shrunk may shrink by up to 20%, which is a sizeable difference.

Be sure to check the label on cotton clothing before making a purchase to check whether or not it has been pre-shrunk.

Does 60% Cotton 40% Polyester Shrink?

Yes, a blend that is 60% cotton and 40% polyester can shrink, though it is typically less than 100% cotton. This is true if it is exposed to high temperatures during the cleaning process. A blend with this percentage may shrink by up to 5% after a wash.

There are a number of benefits to a CVC blend aside from the fact that it will shrink less than 100% cotton. These include its durability, versatility, and the fact that it is less prone to wrinkling.

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Does Ringspun Cotton Shrink?

While ringspun cotton is known to be very durable, it is prone to shrinking in the was. That said, it won’t shrink as much as 100% cotton, which is something to keep in mind if you are conscious of shrinking your clothing.

Does Organic Cotton Shrink?

100% organic cotton may shrink in the wash by up to 3%. As with all cotton fabrics and blends, you should factor in potential shrinkage in your buying and washing decisions.

In addition to practicing safer washing techniques, you may also wish to buy your cotton clothing products a little larger than your size to account for potential shrinkage in the wash over time.

Does Supima Cotton Shrink?

Supima is a type of Pima cotton grown in America, where it is a trademarked brand (it combines the words superior and Pima, hinting at the high quality of this blend). It is well-known for its comfort, softness, strength, and durability.

While it is also possible to shrink Supima cotton in the wash, note that it is much less likely than with other cotton types. As with other fabrics, be sure to read the clothing label for washing information to avoid the risk of shrinkage.

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Does Cotton Shrink Every Time You Wash It?

Yes, cotton may shrink every time it is washed—if it is exposed to high temperatures in the washer or dryer. As long as you follow the care details on the label, you can avoid shrinking your cotton materials.

Cotton is only prone to shrinking “drastically” during the first wash; this is the most dangerous time when washing cotton, which is why you should be extra cautious early on. After this first wash, your cotton clothing will be far less likely to shrink (though you should always be careful not to expose it to high temperatures).

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Understanding the Risk of Shrinking Cotton in the Wash

The bottom line here is that cotton is prone to shrinking in the wash. This is true of all types of cotton, from 100% cotton to different cotton blends, though the likelihood of shrinkage can differ between the blends.

As this post on “does cotton shrink in the wash?” highlights, certain protocols can be taken when you are washing cotton. These include using cold water, low dryer settings, and delicate wash cycles.

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