Clothes, dryers and irons

Does the Dryer Really Shrink Clothes?

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: June 9, 2024
Does the Dryer Really Shrink Clothes?

Although clothes dryers are becoming more common, many people still have questions about how to use them properly. Clothes dryers are especially beneficial in humid regions and in winter when it rains frequently and clothes cannot be dried outside. However, even though dryers are very convenient, some clothes become smaller or deformed after going through the dryer.

In this oneHOWTO article, you'll learn if it's true that the dryer can shrink clothes and what you can do about it.

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  1. Does the dryer shrink clothes?
  2. How to know if a garment can be put in the dryer
  3. How to avoid shrinking clothes in the dryer

Does the dryer shrink clothes?

Different fabrics react differently to the dryer, and in some cases shrinkage may occur. However, this does not occur very often with the most common fabrics. In general, home textiles such as bedding or towels, sportswear and synthetic clothing do not pose a problem when machine drying. However, some garments made of natural fibers, such as wool, linen and natural cotton are susceptible to the effects of the dryer.

First of all, this type of clothing absorbs a lot of water when washed. Then, when they are dried, they shrink back to their original size. However, if they are exposed to heat for a long period of time, they tend to curl up and become smaller.

Remember that clothes dryers use heated air to extract moisture and dry your clothes, and these types of fabrics and textiles tend to shrink when exposed to high heat. Clothes dryers also spin your clothes to dry them. The spinning motion can cause these types of garments to shrink as the fibers contract.

How to know if a garment can be put in the dryer

Make sure the clothes you plan to put in the dryer are suitable for the dryer before using it to avoid discomfort. Certain fabrics cannot be dried directly in the dryer, such as plastic raincoats, leather, or elastic fabrics with rubber content. For all other garments, it is important to look closely at the label to verify the composition. Wonder if jeans shrink in the dryer? The heat accelerates the deterioration of the fabric and can sometimes cause it to shrink. It is also not recommended to dry underwear in the dryer, because the device can destroy the elastic bands.

However, the labels of the garments contain valuable information, and almost all of them have a symbol that indicates whether you can use the dryer or not. It is a square with a circle inside. You can put the garment in the dryer if it is not crossed out. If it is crossed out, you should not use it. Also, do not put fabric labels that say the fabric is 100% natural fibers (including linen, wool, or cotton) in the dryer unless the dryer has a delicate clothing program designed for drying these types of fabrics.

Does the Dryer Really Shrink Clothes? - How to know if a garment can be put in the dryer

How to avoid shrinking clothes in the dryer

Although it is not common, it can happen that even clothes intended for the dryer shrink for no apparent reason. Not only should you read labels carefully to avoid mistakes, but you should also follow these tips to ensure your clothes come out dry and in perfect condition:

  • To save energy, shorten drying time, and reduce heat exposure to garments.

  • It is important to dry clothes with similar characteristics in the same program to avoid shrinkage.

  • The laundry should not be overloaded in the dryer. It must have enough space to dry, both by the action of the air and the heat. If you put less laundry in the dryer, it will be more efficient and safer.

  • If you are unsure, always choose the shortest and lowest temperature program. Learn about the different features of your dryer, so you can choose the right program for the type of laundry you want to dry.

  • You can reduce static and wrinkling by adding dryer sheets to your drying cycle.

  • Cleaning your dryer regularly will prevent damp or moldy odors from transferring to your clothes.

  • If you want to keep your clothes in shape, empty your clothes dryer after each use and hang or fold them immediately.

  • Do not dry your clothes more than once in the clothes dryer. This will cause your clothes to irritate more easily.

Check out the following articles for tips on how to clean, dry, and maintain your clothes:

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Does the Dryer Really Shrink Clothes?