Stop the Shrinkage


Have you ever reached into a dryer and pulled out a shirt that looks like it belongs to a much younger version of yourself? Clothing shrinkage can happen to anyone. You may be surprised to find out that there are many different reasons that your socks, shirts or unmentionables may have shrunk. Let’s look at some of the different types of shrinkage and how to avoid them.

Differential Shrinkage

This type of shrinkage may not be your fault. Differential shrinkage is usually due to a manufacturing error. There may have been an improper stabilization of the fibers or the fabric during the creation of the garment. Usually this leads to shrinking fibers or entire panels of cloth. This typically happens only in one area in particular, leaving the garment looking oddly lopsided.

Relaxation Shrinkage

Relaxation shrinkage can occur the first or second time you wash a garment. When clothing is made, the fibers are put under a certain amount of tension. If there was no preshrinking done before the article of clothing was sold, this means that the tension in the fibers might decrease. Where and when is this most likely to happen? As your pants and button-down shirts tumble and roll within your washing machine. The agitation from the washer will relax the tension in the fibers causing the garment to shrink.

Progressive Shrinkage

Sometimes you pull out a t-shirt that you have worn for years only to notice that it seems tighter around the chest than before. After checking yourself on the scale, you realize that something fishy must have happened. Truth is, this change didn’t occur overnight but took place over time. Every time you wash a piece of clothing, the fibers will lose a little tension, thus slightly shrinking the garment. This means that gradually the fibers are going to contract and make the shrink your favorite sweater vest.

Ways to Avoid Shrinkage

Looking for a way to keep your clothes from becoming hand-me-downs to your children? Here are some tips to keep them from shrinking:

  • Use a professional dry cleaner. Coming to West Boulevard Cleaners or using our convenient drop off service is the best way to ensure your clothing doesn’t change sizes. Professionals know the proper techniques to keep your clothing looking and fitting its best.
  • Air dry your clothes. By keeping your clothing out of the dryer you avoid drastic temperature changes that can lead to shrinking. If you have to use the dryer, use it on low or no heat.
  • Hand wash with mild detergents. Hand washing will eliminate any problems that might be caused by the agitation of a washing machine. Remember to keep them out of the dryer after washing!
  • Use cold water and gentle washing cycles. Heat and over-agitation are the main causes of shrinking. If you keep the temperatures down and eliminate heavy agitation you can help to reduce the risk of shrinkage.
  • Follow the instructions on the label of each garment.

Save yourself some time and aggravation by having your clothing cleaned by West Boulevard Cleaners. We are your Kerrisdale dry cleaners!

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