Does Hot Water Shrink Clothes? (ANSWERED!)

Will your shirt, sweater, or pants shrink in hot water? Read our article to find out!

Does Hot Water Shrink Clothes?

Warm Water

Hot water has the ability to shrink different types of clothes to different degrees. Hot water will have a significant shrinking effect on garments made from 100% cotton, linen, and wool. Hot water will have a less significant effect on garments made from polyester, nylon, and spandex.

This is Does Hot Water Shrink Clothes? (ANSWERED!)

Sometimes we shrink clothes on purpose, sometimes we shrink them by accident. Either way, the one thing that is consistent in shrinkage is: hot water

Continue reading our article to find out how hot water effects your clothes, as well as which types of fabrics shrink the most. 

Although hot water does have the ability to shrink clothes, it is also great for removing stains as well as killing germs and bacteria. 

Does Hot Water Shrink Clothes?

Hot water will cause shrinkage to clothes made from a variety of different fabrics. Fabrics that will shrink the most in hot water include 100% cotton, silk, wool, linen, and hemp

Clothes made from natural fibers tend to shrink more than clothing made from synthetic fibers. Garments made from synthetic fibers such as polyester (can you shrink polyester), nylon, and spandex are resistant to shrinkage. This is because synthetic fabrics are treated with a special chemical during production to make them shrink, wrinkle, and sometimes stain resistant. 

Heat has the potent ability to shrink clothes, so avoid washing your clothes in hot water or tumble drying them in high heat if you do not want shrinkage to occur.

Your best course of action to make sure your clothes don’t shrink when cleaning them is to take them to a dry cleaner instead. Learn how much dry cleaning costs and how long dry cleaning takes.

Fabrics That Shrink the Most

  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Linen 
  • Hemp
  • Silk

Fabrics That Shrink the Least

  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Spandex
  • Acrylic
  • Acetate

How to Shrink Clothes

If you are looking to make your clothes tighter or shrink them, the main thing you want to do is use heat. The hotter the environment the garment gets placed into, the more likely it is to shrink. 

The best way to shrink clothes is by using the washing machine on the hot water setting, paired with the dryer (learn how to use a dryer properly & how long does a dryer take) on tumble dry settings: tumble dry high & tumble dry medium (tumble dry low will not be hot enough.)

Find out how hot a dryer gets to truly understand how much your fabric may shrink.

If you do not have access to a washing machine and dryer you may instead place your clothes into a pot of boiling hot water to shrink them. Boiling water works great for making waistbands smaller.

If you are looking to shrink a specific clothing item, you may find the links below to be helpful, as they offer more detailed and targeted information focused on each individual clothing type. 

How to Wash Clothes

Sort your laundry into groups so that white clothes, colored clothes, and dark clothes are washed separately. Check the care labels before beginning to make sure there are no special care requirements. Use the right water temperature and cycle settings to wash your clothes. Choose the cold water and delicate cycle settings if you do not know which presets to use. Use the appropriate laundry detergent, and do not over-pour.

Once finished (how long does a washer take?), air dry your clothes by hanging or laying flat on a drying rack (line dry or dry flat.) Learn all the ways to dry your clothes without a dryer.

To see more information take a look at our detailed step-by-step guides on how to wash different types of clothes. 

Does Hot Water Shrink Clothes FAQ

Different fabrics will shrink to a different degree when placed in hot water. 100% cotton may shrink up to 20% of its size if it is not pre-shrunk, whereas a garment made from polyester may not shrink at all. Check your garment’s care label to see what kind of fabric it is made from. As a general rule, natural fabrics will always shrink more than synthetic fabrics. 

Hot water shrinks clothes. Cold water does not shrink clothes. Heat is the main requirement to shrink any type of clothing. 

Written and reviewed by:
Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

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