The majority of t-shirts are made from either 100% cotton, a cotton blend, 100% polyester, or a polyester blend.
T-shirts made from 100% cotton or a cotton blend are very prone to shrinkage, since cotton is one of the most shrinkable fibers.
T-shirts made from 100% polyester or a polyester blend will be much more resistant to shrinking in the wash since polyester is a hard to shrink synthetic fiber.
If you use the dryer it is critical that you use the air dry or tumble dry low settings. Do not use tumble dry high as this means that a high temperature will be used, which will then lead to shrinkage. The best thing you can do is learn how to dry your clothes without a dryer.
Continue reading to learn how to wash a t-shirt without shrinking.
Table of Contents
Supplies & Tools
- Washing machine
- Mesh laundry bag (optional)
- Laundry detergent
How To Wash A T-Shirt Without Shrinking
Total Time: 1hr 50 min
If your t-shirts are shrinking in the wash, it’s because you are using the hot water setting on the washing machine, or the tumble dry high setting on the dryer. Some types of fabrics, such as cotton, will shrink if they come into contact with high levels of heat, and using the washing machine or dryer (learn how to use a dryer properly) on the wrong settings has the potential to drastically shrink your shirt.
Follow the steps below to machine wash your t-shirt without shrinking it.
1. Turn the t-shirt inside out
Turn the t-shirt inside out. Optionally, you may place it into a mesh laundry bag.
2. Put t-shirt into wash
Put the t-shirt into the washing machine.
3. Add laundry detergent
Add a cap of laundry detergent is the standard sizing, however read the label before adding the detergent to see what your soap brand suggests.
4. Put setting to cold water
Adjust the settings on the washing machine to delicate/gentle.
5. Push start
Push start (how long does a washer take).
6. Dry then put away
How to wash a t-shirt without shrinking: quick tips
- Washing your t-shirt in cold water helps to minimize shrinkage. Hot water can cause the fibers to contract and lead to shrinking.
- Opt for a gentle cycle on your washing machine or hand wash the t-shirt to reduce the agitation that can contribute to shrinking.
- If using a washing machine, avoid overcrowding the load and choose a gentle spin cycle to minimize the stress on the fabric.
- Harsh detergents can damage the fabric and contribute to shrinking. Choose a mild detergent that is suitable for delicate fabrics.
- After washing, air dry always!
How To Wash A T-Shirt Without Shrinking By Hand
Total Time: 60min
Follow the instructions below to hand wash any type of t-shirt without shrinking it.
What you’ll need:
- Water basin
- Laundry detergent
1. Fill basin with water
Fill a basin with cold to lukewarm water. The temperature of the water should not exceed 80°F/26°C.
2. Add detergent to basin
Add laundry detergent to the water in your basin.
3. Submerge t-shirt in water
Submerge the t-shirt in the water filled basin.
4. Let the t-shirt soak
Let the t-shirt soak for 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Move the t-shirt around
Use your hands to agitate the shirt in the water.
6. Rinse under cold water
Remove the shirt and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear and all the soap has been removed.
7. Hang to air dry
How to Dry a T-Shirt Without Shrinking
If your main concern is avoiding shrinkage, the best way to dry your t-shirts after washing is to air dry. Take your t-shirt to a cool, dark place, and hang or lay flat to dry.
If you want to machine dry your t-shirt, be sure to adjust the settings on the dryer to air dry or tumble dry low before you begin. The “low” in tumble dry low means: low heat; which means that the “high” in tumble dry high means…you guessed it, high heat. High levels of heat shrink clothing, so if you want to avoid shrinking your t-shirt in the dryer, then use the air dry or tumble dry low settings.
I’m curious, how many different types of clothes do you have in that same load of laundry? Not all clothes shrink in the wash for the same reasons.
If you don’t want your shirt to shrink, make sure to wash it in cold water and to either air dry or use tumble dry low in the dryer. You may also want to buy shirts made out of synthetic fibers like polyester, that have been specially treated to be resistant to shrinkage.
Wash your cotton shirt in cold water if you do not wish to shrink it. Heat shrinks clothes, so make sure you adjust the settings on the washing machine to “cold water” before you do your cotton laundry.
Your t-shirts shrink in the wash because you are using the hot water setting in the washing machine, or the tumble dry high setting in the dryer. Heat shrinks clothes, so be sure to use cold water in the washing machine, and air dry or tumble dry low while using the dryer.
The most important thing to do before you wash your shirt is to check the care label. It is important to check the care label because it has important information written on it about how to wash, dry, and iron your shirt. Carefully follow the instructions on your shirts care label and you will not run the risk of ruining it.