How to stop your 100% cotton from shrinking

Does 100% cotton shrink?

In a word, yes. It’s absolutely normal for clothes made from 100% cotton to shrink, especially if they haven't been pre-shrunk.

Pre-shrunk cotton will generally only shrink 2-5%. Non pre-shrunk cotton, on the other hand, can shrink as much 20% if you’re not careful.

This is only true for 100% cotton, however. Cotton which has been blended with synthetic fibers or other materials might shrink more or less than pure cotton. Cotton which contains polyester or other synthetic fibers generally shrinks less than 100% cotton. In fact, this is one of the main reasons that polyester is added to cotton.

Does Sanforized cotton shrink?

Stop cotton from shrinking Sanforized cotton has been subjected to a process in which the fabric is stretched and shrunk, lengthwise and widthwise, before being cut and used to make clothing.

As the purpose of this process is to ensure that the cotton is shrink resistant, Sanforized cotton is quite hard to shrink.

Do synthetics like polyester, nylon and rayon shrink?

Polyester is one of the most common types of plastic or PET. Derived from crude oil, polyester is used to create anything from ketchup bottles to clothes to sneakers. Polyester is used in the textile industry because it is very cheap, easy to dye and resistant to shrinking and stretching.

Nylon is another type of synthetic material - essentially a plastic - which is also derived from crude oil. The process by which nylon is made allows it to withstand far higher temperatures than regular plastics, so that it can machine washed and tumble dried on the low setting. In addition to its use in the clothing industry, nylon can be found in various auto parts, food packaging, and is even used to make guitar strings.

Though rayon is also a synthetic material, it is not a type of plastic and is not made from crude oil. Rayon is a regenerated cellulose fiber, meaning that it is derived from natural forms of cellulose, mainly wood. There are many different types of rayon and the material has many different uses. Some are created to imitate the texture and properties of silk, while others have been designed to resemble wool or cotton.

Synthetics like polyester, nylon and rayon are specifically made to be shrink-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about that. You can shrink polyester, however, by washing it with hot water and setting the temperature too hot while drying it.

Does cotton polyester shrink?

A cotton polyester blend can also be shrunk, though how much it shrinks and how difficult it will be to shrink it depends on the amount of polyester that it contains. The more polyester the item contains, the more difficult it will be to shrink it.

For this reason, it is not extremely difficult to shrink a blend of 80% cotton and 20% polyester. Shrinking a blend of 60% cotton and 40% polyester, however, may prove to be more of a challenge.

What to do if you want to stop your 100% cotton from shrinking

The first thing you should do is read the label. If you follow the instructions found on the label of your article of clothing, the risk that you’ll shrink your clothes should be relatively low.

That said, there are two important rules to prevent 100% cotton from shrinking:

  • Wash 100% cotton in cold water
  • Don’t set the temperature too high when you dry your 100% cotton clothes

If you want to be extra careful, turn off the dryer before the cycle is set to finish. Not drying your clothes completely is a good way to make sure that they don’t shrink.

100% cotton bedding from Zizzz

We carry a full line of fitted sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases made from GOTS-certified, 100% organic cotton. Our bedding sets are available in three different colour combinations and several sizes.