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What Is a Pre-Shrunk T-Shirt?

By ShirtSpace | Aug 23, 2019 |  Updated Aug 15, 2023

A common question among those searching for the ideal t-shirt is whether or not the garment will shrink when washed. As you may have noticed, there is a good deal of cotton t-shirts on the market today that are “pre-shrunk.” But what does that actually mean?

Today, most cotton t-shirts are pre-shrunk versus traditional 100% cotton t-shirts that will inevitably shrink when washed and dried. Luckily, among many technological advancements made recently, t-shirt manufacturers have the ability to “pre-shrink” the material used to make their t-shirts, thus avoiding unwanted shrinkage.


Photo Credit: Envato by Prostock-studio

What Does Pre-Shrunk Mean?

The term pre-shrunk mostly speaks for itself, but it’s important to be aware of a couple of important factors.

  1. Pre-shrunk doesn’t necessarily mean that t-shirt manufacturers wash every single garment. Instead, it refers to the garment having been put through a machine that pushes or compacts the fibers tightly together. This process condenses the fabric by removing the space between the stitches as a way of replicating the shrinking process. In doing this, the garment now has been “pre-shrunk” and will shrink less when put through the traditional washing and drying process.

  1. Having a pre-shrunk shirt doesn’t mean the shirt won't shrink further. This means that even though pre-shrunk garments have been manufactured in a way to prevent shrinkage, you’ll still likely experience some shrinkage. Mind you, most fabric will shrink on average 3-7 percent, so you won’t typically notice, but there will almost always be some additional (minimal) shrinkage to be aware of.

How to Shrink a Shirt (Or Avoid it)

If you are wondering how to shrink a shirt, whether it be on purpose or because you want to avoid shrinking your shirt, be sure to avoid heat! 

Machine washing a shirt in hot water or using a high-heat tumble cycle on a machine dryer will shrink it. This is especially true if the shirt has natural materials like cotton in the fabric makeup.

Photo Credit: Envato by FabrikaPhoto

Why Buy Pre-Shrunk T-Shirts?

Bottom line — the term pre-shrunk implies that most of the shrinkage has been removed from the garment, but do not be misled and assume that no additional shrinking will occur. On top of that, apply laundry care best practices, and always wash in cold and hang dry if you want to eliminate undesired shrinkage – minimal or not! If unwanted shrinkage is still getting you down, you can also always opt for cotton/poly blend or triblend shirts, since these will shrink less than a 100% cotton shirt.

What are your favorite pre-shrunk tees? If you have any helpful tips and tricks on how to avoid unwanted shrinkage, please share them in the comments!



renee04/19/2023 02:32 am

Hey, I bought some 100% cotton t-shirts and am worried what will happen if I wash them, considering I don't know if they're pre-shrunk or not. What do I do?


ShirtSpace04/19/2023 09:25 pm

Hi, Renee. 100% cotton shirts will always shrink slightly. Even pre-shrunk shirts might shrink slightly if washed and dried in high heat. We recommend taking extra care with your shirts by hang drying or drying on a low-tumble cycle. For more useful tips on how to prevent shrinkage, we recommend you check out this blog to help you prevent shrinkage:


audryenana01/17/2023 02:10 pm

Hello, could you also have what material is made of please and thank you.


ShirtSpace01/20/2023 12:37 am

Hi, Audryenana. We think you are asking what shirts tend to be pre-shrunk, but we are not 100% certain. If we are correctly interpreting your questions, then 100% cotton, cotton-poly blends and triblends (anything with cotton in the material makeup) tend to be pre-shrunk. Since polyester does not tend to shrink much, if at all, 100% polyester and other synthetic garments do not typically need to be pre-shrunk. Please let us know if we failed to answer your question, and we would be happy to help! Thanks for taking the time to read our blog.


Tony09/22/2021 11:59 pm

I work in large t-shirts, but when I buy them, I watch them they shrink too much, and they fit too tight. What will be the right size for me?


ShirtSpace08/18/2022 05:11 pm

Hi, Tony! We feel your pain when purchasing a shirt that is the right size for you but then shrinks and is never the same again after a few washes. There are few ways to avoid this problem: 1. Order 1-2 sizes larger than you would typically wear so that it will be closer to your true size after the first few washes 2. Order pre-shrunk cotton shirts. These have already been washed 1-3 times so they offer a more true-to-size fit. 3. Avoid 100% cotton shirts. Cotton shirts shrink much more than many other materials used to make shirts. You could try a cotton/poly blend, a tri-blend t-shirt or 100% polyester to experience a lot less shrinkage (if any). We hope this helps you avoid the trap of buying t-shirts that dramatically change shape and leave you feeling unsatisfied. Please feel free to reach out to our Customer Service Team with any further questions, we are happy to assist!


luc06/13/2020 01:48 pm

meaning if a tee is pre shrunk have to add one size up to fit just right right?>


ShirtSpace10/13/2022 04:54 pm

Hi Luc! Pre-Shrunk T-shirts typically fit true to size. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!


Gaskell.Douglas04/25/2020 02:36 pm

Those who are unmotivated are always determined, those who are willing to stand up, and those who bite a goal are the most likely to succeed


ShirtSpace10/13/2022 04:52 pm

Hi Gaskell! Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!


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