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How to Keep Cotton Clothes from Shrinking

By Shirtspace | Apr 07, 2015 |  Updated Sep 20, 2019

Cotton clothing is hugely popular due to its comfortable feel. The number one complaint people have with cotton is that it shrinks. Cotton shrinks on the first wash due to the fibers relaxing from the tension applied to them when they're made. The first wash releases that tension and effectively "shrinks" the shirt. Pre-shrunk cotton seeks to avoid this but still shrinks in a minor way. Take extra care with light cotton, and if you're hoping to get the least shrinkage, go with a heavier cotton. In the end, it's all due to the fabric itself and the way it was woven, some cotton shrinks more than others. 

There are a number of ways to avoid major shrinkage. Instead of just buying a size up, consider these 3 options.

  1. Wash In Cold Water: Warm/hot water exacerbates the shrink process. Instead, wash in cold water, on a slow and delicate cycle.
  2. Air Dry: If you're looking to avoid maximum shrinkage on that first wash, instead of putting it in the dryer, stretch it out on a table or hang it from a clothesline. Air drying is much easier on the fabrics and results in lessened shrinkage of the cotton.
  3. Alternatives: If cotton shrinks too much for your liking, make sure you're purchasing "pre-shrunk" cotton. This fabric has been treated by washing before making the shirt to reduce shrinkage. Also, consider blended cotton and polyester, which shrinks less than traditional cotton. 50/50 shirts are an option that many choose for the advantages of both cotton and polyester, resulting in minimal shrinkage.

Cotton tees generally hold their shape pretty well. Especially when it comes to the high quality shirts we offer here at www.shirtspace.com! If you follow these guidelines upon first wash you should have minimal issue with shrinkage. Do you have any other suggestions? Send them to sales@shirtspace.com and we'll post them up!

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