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Does Cotton Shrink in the Dryer? l Tips to Prevent It

Does cotton shrink in the dryer?

100% cotton can shrink up to five percent, which is more than a full size.


Yes, cotton shrinks in the dryer.

More Info: Although a strong, durable fabric, 100% cotton garments are at risk for shrinking in the washer and dryer.  Today many cotton garments are Sanforized™ which mean that they are preshrunk using a trademarked process and will not shrink in the wash.  Clothing manufacturers often blend cotton with polyester or other fibers that help to make it more shrink resistant.

How Do You Care for Cotton?

Care for cotton clothing is extremely easy and worry free. Cotton clothing is highly washable and can be laundered at a variety of temperatures with little concern. If you intend to wash your cotton garment in hot water, be sure to pre-treat any stains prior to washing as hot water can set some stains including blood and grass stains.  Turning clothes inside out before washing them can help to prevent fading.  Be careful not to dry cotton clothes thoroughly. The fabric will wrinkle, as well as shrink after time. Allowing clothes to air dry is the best way to give them a longer life. Ironing should also be done with the garment inside out.

How Do You Prevent Cotton from Shrinking?

You can prevent cotton from shrinking by paying attention to care label sewn into the garment.  100% cotton can shrink up to five percent, which is more than one size.  Many of today’s cotton garments are either treated and processed or blended with synthetics, which may reduce shrinkage.  Never throw a cotton garment in the dryer without first checking the care label.


Expert Opinion

Quote:  “Look for the terms “long staple cotton,” “Pima cotton,” “Combed cotton” and “Cotton Lisle.” Pima is a very high-grade of cotton grown in the southwestern United States. Combed cotton undergoes extra processing for smoothness and to retain only the longest and best quality fibers. Lisle is a jersey fabric made from two ply combed cotton yarns forming a fabric that is usually very soft, smooth, and of improved quality.”

Source:     Buying Casual Knit Shirts Ohio State University Extension.



“Selecting a Blouse, HYG-5547-96.” Ohioline. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2011. <>.

Kramer, Sharon. “Project Cotton – Care .” Welcome to Project Cotton at the University of Missouri. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2011. <>.

“HOW TO BUY T-SHIRTS.” Ohioline. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2011. <>

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