Cotton is a popular fabric for clothing and household items such as towels and bed linens. However, many people wonder if cotton will shrink every time it is dried in the dryer. In this article, we will discuss whether or not cotton shrinks every time it is dried and what steps you can take to prevent shrinkage.
The Science Behind Cotton Shrinkage
Cotton is a natural fiber that is prone to shrinkage when exposed to heat. This is because cotton fibers are made up of cellulose molecules that are held together by hydrogen bonds. When cotton is exposed to heat, these hydrogen bonds break down, causing the fibers to contract and shrink.
Some cotton fabrics are pre-shrunk, which means they have undergone a process that minimizes shrinkage. Pre-shrunk cotton has been treated with heat and chemicals to stabilize the fabric and prevent it from shrinking further. However, even pre-shrunk cotton can still shrink if exposed to high heat or if it is stretched out of shape.
Cotton blends, which are fabrics made from a combination of cotton and other fibers such as polyester or spandex, are less likely to shrink than 100% cotton fabrics. This is because the synthetic fibers in the blend are less prone to shrinkage than natural cotton fibers.
How to Prevent Cotton Shrinkage
While it is difficult to completely prevent cotton from shrinking, there are steps you can take to minimize shrinkage:
Wash in Cold Water
Washing cotton in cold water can help prevent shrinkage, as hot water is more likely to break down the hydrogen bonds in the cotton fibers.
Air Dry or Tumble Dry on Low Heat
Avoid drying cotton on high heat, as this can cause the fibers to shrink. Instead, opt for air drying or tumble drying on low heat. Remove the clothing or item from the dryer while it is still slightly damp and hang or lay it flat to finish drying.
Iron with Damp Cloth
Ironing cotton can also cause shrinkage, particularly if the iron is set to a high heat. To prevent shrinkage, iron cotton with a damp cloth between the fabric and the iron.
In summary, cotton is prone to shrinkage when exposed to heat. While it is difficult to completely prevent cotton from shrinking, there are steps you can take to minimize shrinkage. By washing cotton in cold water, air drying or tumble drying on low heat, and ironing with a damp cloth, you can help preserve the size and shape of your cotton clothing and household items.