Does cotton shrink when washed?

Cotton is one of the most widely used materials in the textile fiber industry: it accumulates a percentage close to 50% of the world consumption of this type of fiber due to its many advantages. It is a comfortable and soft fabric that does not cause skin irritation, as well as being hypoallergenic. In fact, its fibers do not generate static electricity or cause dermatitis because they are spun with force when spun.

For these reasons, cotton is widely used to make clothing items in direct contact with the body, such as underwear and T-shirts. As it is a very present fabric in our wardrobe, it is important to know how to wash it correctly, since surely you have heard at some point that it can shrink. So does cotton shrink when washed? Is it because we use hot or cold water? To find out if cotton shrinks when washed, in what situation, how to avoid it and more, at OneHOWTO we recommend that you continue reading this article.You may also be interested in: Does viscose shrink when washed?Index

Does cotton shrink or stretch?

Despite being the most recommended for making garments due to the benefits they have in contact with the skin, natural fibers have a main drawback: they can shrink if they are not washed properly. Does cotton shrink in hot or cold water? You have probably asked yourself this question more than once when you have run a washing machine with cotton garments. The answer is clear: cotton is among the fabrics that shrink when washed in hot water and in the dryer .

In contrast, cotton fibers retain the same shape if you wash them in cold water. To dry clothes made of this fabric, the best option so that they do not shrink or deform is to let them air dry. Fabrics containing 100% cotton have been treated under the sanforized method, which is a treatment that prevents the garments from shrinking. Without this treatment, they would also shrink when washed with cold water.

Does cotton shrink when washed?  - Does cotton shrink or stretch?

At what temperature does cotton shrink?

Cotton garments need to be washed at a certain temperature to avoid shrinking. Those that are white the wash can at a temperature of up to 60 or C . On the other hand, only cotton garments that are not 100% made of this fabric, but that contain a certain percentage of other fabrics that are synthetic and that withstand such high temperatures well, can be washed at more than 90 ºC. Therefore, garments made only with cotton shrink if they are washed at more than 90 o C. If it is mixed with any other fabric, you should wash it according to the composition, that is, according to the component that presents a greater demand washing.

As for colored cotton clothes , you should wash them at a temperature that ranges between 30-40 o C so that they do not lose color.

Does cotton shrink when washed?  - At what temperature does cotton shrink?

How much does cotton shrink when washed?

If you do not meet the recommended washing temperatures, it is proven that the cotton can shrink when washed . Garments made with this 100% fabric shrink a volume that ranges between 10 and 15% .

The higher the temperature, the more risk of shrinkage cotton clothing will have and the more volume it can lose. You should also be very careful with the use of tumble dryers: try to dry the garments of this fabric laid in the air or, otherwise, they may shrink with the heat of this appliance for drying.

How to wash cotton so that it does not shrink

Something you should always do before washing a garment, regardless of the textile fiber used to make it, is to read the label that it contains inside. By reading these instructions, you will know more precisely how to wash it to avoid the risk of shrinking or losing color and, therefore, to keep it in good condition. To know how to wash cotton clothes in the washing machine , at OneHOWTO we recommend that you follow these steps:

  1. Eliminate stains that are more difficult to remove by adding liquid detergent. Rub gently once you have poured the detergent onto the surface of the stain using cold water. In these other articles we explain How to remove stains from colored cotton clothing and How to remove stains from white cotton clothing .
  2. Put the cotton garments in the washing machine, add the detergent and fabric softener if you use it and program it with a gentle cycle and cold water.
  3. When the washing program is finished, take out and shake all the clothes to avoid wrinkles.
  4. Hang each cotton garment with wooden or plastic clothespins, avoid metal ones because if they rust they can stain the clothes.
  5. Wait a few hours for the clothes to air dry. Remember to avoid using the dryer at all costs to speed up the drying process of cotton garments, because they will dry before but they will also shrink.

Now that you know everything about whether cotton shrinks, under what circumstances it does so and how to wash it to avoid it, we advise you to find out more details about the care of these garments to keep them in good condition. To do this, we recommend you read these other articles on How to care for 100% cotton clothes , How to wash cotton sheets and How to wash a cotton bedspread .

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