Does High Heat Shrink Clothes

Does High Heat Shrink Clothes?

When it comes to washing and drying clothes, many people are unsure about the impact that high heat can have on their garments. The truth is that high heat can indeed shrink clothes, and understanding how this happens is important for anyone looking to maintain the longevity of their wardrobe.

What Causes Clothes to Shrink?

In order to understand why high heat can cause clothes to shrink, it’s important to first understand a little bit about how fabrics are constructed. Most fabrics are made up of fibers that can be woven, knitted, or otherwise arranged in a specific way to create a particular look and feel. When these fibers are exposed to heat and moisture, they can become pliable and malleable, which means they can change shape and size.

When you wash clothes in hot water or dry them on a high heat setting, the fibers in the fabric can become agitated and start to move around. This movement can cause the fibers to lock together and create a tighter, more compact weave or knit. Over time, this can lead to clothes that are smaller, tighter, and less comfortable to wear.

What Types of Clothes Shrink the Most?

Not all fabrics are created equal when it comes to shrinking. Some materials are more susceptible to shrinking than others, and knowing which ones to avoid putting in the dryer can help you keep your wardrobe in great condition.

Cotton: Cotton is one of the most common fabrics used in clothing, and it’s also one of the most likely to shrink. This is because cotton fibers can contract when exposed to heat and water, making clothes made from this material particularly susceptible to shrinking.

Wool: Wool is another natural fiber that can shrink when exposed to high heat. This is because the fibers in wool are covered in tiny scales that can get caught on each other and cause the material to become tighter and thicker.

Silk: While silk may be a luxurious, high-end material, it’s not immune to shrinking. Silk is actually quite delicate and can be damaged by high heat, which can cause the fabric to shrink and become damaged.

Rayon: Another material that can shrink easily is rayon, which is a synthetic material made from wood pulp. Rayon is often used in clothing because it’s cheap and lightweight, but it can also be prone to shrinking if exposed to high heat.

How to Prevent Clothes from Shrinking

If you want to prevent your clothes from shrinking, there are a few things you can do to help keep them in great condition.

– Follow the care instructions: The first step to preventing shrinkage is to follow the care instructions on your clothing tags. These instructions will tell you exactly how to wash and dry your clothes to keep them looking their best.

– Wash in cold water: To prevent your clothes from shrinking, it’s best to wash them in cold water. This will help to keep the fibers in the fabric from becoming agitated and locking together in the wash.

– Use a gentle cycle: When washing your clothes, use a gentle cycle to help prevent them from being agitated too much in the machine.

– Hang dry: To avoid shrinkage altogether, consider hang drying your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer. This will allow the fibers to relax and return to their natural shape and size without being locked together by heat.


In conclusion, high heat can indeed cause clothes to shrink, especially if they are made from cotton, wool, silk, or rayon. To prevent clothes from shrinking, it’s important to follow the care instructions on your garments and avoid exposing them to high heat in the wash or dryer. By taking these simple steps, you can keep your wardrobe looking great and avoid having to constantly replace clothes that have shrunk or become damaged.