Savvy Tips Guru

How to Avoid Clothes Shrinking in the Dryer – Essential Tips

does drying clothes shrink them

Ever found that your favorite shirt or dress doesn’t fit like it used to? There’s a good chance it’s not because you’ve gained weight—your clothes might have shrunk in the wash. It’s really annoying, especially if it’s something you love wearing often.

Shrinking clothes isn’t just a minor annoyance; it can cause bigger issues. For one, it means you can’t wear some of your favorite pieces anymore. You also might have to spend money and time finding replacements for clothes that were perfectly good before they shrank. Plus, constantly having to buy new clothes because the old ones keep shrinking isn’t great for your wallet or the planet.

How do clothes shrink?

A dryer works by using heat and motion to remove moisture from your clothes, making them dry and ready to wear again. While this is super convenient, the combination of heat and tumbling action can sometimes cause clothes to shrink.

Here’s what happens technically: many clothes are made from natural fibers like cotton or wool. These fibers have a certain amount of tension in them from when they’re spun into yarn and then woven or knitted into fabric. When you wash and dry these fabrics, the heat and movement from the dryer relax this tension, causing the fibers to contract back to their natural state, which is often shorter and tighter than before. This results in your clothes shrinking.

But does every use of the dryer lead to shrinking clothes? Not necessarily. The degree of shrinkage depends on several factors, such as the type of fabric, the heat setting used, and the duration of drying. Synthetic materials like polyester or nylon are less prone to shrinking because their fibers react differently to heat compared to natural fibers.

How to Keep Clothes from Shrinking in the Dryer

Now you know why clothes shrink, it’s important to take action to keep them just the way you like. With some changes in how you use your dryer and take care of your clothes, you can avoid shrinkage. Here are easy ways to keep your clothes from getting smaller:

  1. Check the Label: Always look at the care instructions on your clothes before washing or drying them. The label tells you the best way to clean and dry your clothes safely.
  2. Choose Low Heat: When using the dryer, go for a lower heat setting. High heat can make clothes shrink more, so cooler settings help keep their size.
  3. Don’t Over-dry: Take your clothes out of the dryer while they’re still a bit damp. This stops them from shrinking. You can hang them up or lay them flat to finish drying.
  4. Air-dry When Possible: If you can, dry your clothes on a rack or clothesline instead of in the dryer. This is the best way to prevent any shrinking.
  5. Be Careful with Certain Fabrics: Clothes made from natural materials like cotton and wool can shrink easily. Try to keep these items out of the dryer or use a no-heat setting if you have to dry them.
  6. Pre-shrink On Purpose: For items that tend to shrink, you can wash and dry them on high heat once before you wear them. This helps control any further shrinking.
  7. Shake Out Each Piece: Before you put clothes in the dryer, shake each one out. This helps them dry evenly and can keep them from shrinking.
  8. Sort Your Laundry: Dry clothes with similar fabrics together and choose the right dryer settings for those types of clothes. Don’t mix heavy items with light, delicate ones.

How to Fix Clothes That Shrunk in the Dryer

However, if you’ve already experienced the disappointment of shrinking your clothes in the dryer, don’t worry—all is not lost. There are several methods you can try to help your clothes regain their original size. 

  1. Warm Water and Baby Shampoo Method: Fill up a sink or tub with warm water and mix in a baby shampoo or a gentle conditioner. These products can soften the fabric, making it easier to stretch. Put your smaller clothes in the water and leave them there for around 30 minutes.
  2. Stretching by Hand: After the soak, take your clothes out and press out the water gently (don’t twist them). Spread them on a clean towel and carefully stretch them back into shape. Use your hands to pull gently in different directions.
  3. Drying with Towels: After stretching, wrap your clothes in a dry towel to soak up excess water. Then, lay them flat on another dry towel to air dry, shaping them as you go.
  4. Steam Iron for More Stretch: If the fabric can handle a bit of heat, using a steam iron can help. Don’t press the iron directly on the garment. Instead, hover it above and use the steam while you stretch the fabric gently with your hands.
  5. Conditioner or Fabric Softener: Like baby shampoo, using a hair conditioner or fabric softener in water can loosen the fibers. After soaking and stretching, follow the same steps as above.
  6. The Freezing Method: For slightly shrunk clothes, dampen them, put them in a plastic bag, and freeze them overnight. Thaw and then stretch the next day. The freeze-thaw cycle can sometimes relax the fibers.
  7. Getting Professional Help: If you’re not confident in fixing the shrinkage yourself or if the item is very special, it might be wise to take it to a professional cleaner. They have experience and methods for dealing with these issues.

Keeping Your Clothes the Right Size

To sum up, by following the advice we’ve talked about, you’ll have a much better shot at preventing your clothes from shrinking when you dry them. This means you get to keep wearing your favorite outfits for a lot longer. Remember, even though these tips are pretty helpful, they might not work perfectly every single time. The kind of fabric your clothes are made of and how much they’ve already shrunk can make a difference in the results. But most of the time, these methods can make enough of an improvement that you’ll be able to enjoy wearing your clothes again without much trouble.


  • Diane Silva

    Diane is a travel enthusiast, content creator, and master storyteller, capturing her adventures through captivating blogs and engaging vlogs. With a passion for the great outdoors and a love for literature, she brings a unique perspective to the travel world. Whether she's exploring hidden gems or discussing the latest trends, Diane is your go-to source for all things travel and beyond.