Laundry Fun Facts

Why does cotton shrink?

July 13, 2023

Shrunk Clothes Shutterstock 1061119712

Cotton is a natural fiber derived from the cotton plant, and it is known for its versatility and comfort. However, one of the common characteristics of cotton fabric is that it has a tendency to shrink when exposed to certain conditions.


  1. Cotton fibers are held together by interlocking threads. When the fabric is exposed to heat or moisture, these threads can contract and cause the fabric to shrink. 
  2. Cotton is sensitive to high temperatures, especially when combined with moisture. When cotton garments are exposed to hot water or a hot dryer, the heat causes the fibers to contract, resulting in shrinkage. This is why it's important to follow the care instructions on cotton garments, which often recommend washing in cold water and drying on a low heat setting.
  3. Cotton can absorb and release moisture from its surroundings. When cotton fibers absorb moisture, they swell and expand. If the fabric is then exposed to heat or drying, the moisture evaporates and the fibers shrink back to their original size or even smaller.
  4. Sometimes, cotton fabrics undergo specific treatments during manufacturing, such as pre-shrinking processes. However, these treatments may not completely eliminate the potential for further shrinkage. In some cases, the fabric may still have residual shrinkage, which can become noticeable after washing or drying.

To minimize shrinkage and maintain the size of cotton garments, it's important to follow proper care instructions. The expert launderers at Legendary Laundry know how to care for all different types of fabrics and we will do our very best to keep your clothes in excellent condition.

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