Does Dry Cleaning Shrink Clothes?

There is a misunderstanding among people that dry cleaning can cause shrinkage of their clothing. Well, it’s not 100% true.

Dry-cleaned clothing under normal conditions should not shrink. Professional dry cleaners employ a chemical solvent in a machine that washes and dries your garments without the need for water, hence the name “dry” cleaning. These machines are built with features that prevent fabric shrinkage, among other things. On the contrary, washing your garments in warm water is a surefire way to make them shrink. But if the dry cleaning machines aren’t serviced regularly or if they break down while cleaning, the garments may shrink. 

This article will cover the reasons behind a garment’s shrinkage, why dry cleaning clothes can make them shrink, and tips and tricks to keep your clothes in shape.

Will Dry Cleaning Cause My Clothes to Shrink?

A dry cleaning solvent’s ability to absorb and hold moisture gradually degrades under normal conditions of use. For the detergent to do its job, a tiny amount of moisture in the dry cleaning solution is required. However, fabric shrinkage might occur if there is too much moisture. The “water separator” in your dry cleaner will ensure that the solvent’s moisture level never rises above acceptable levels. If the water separator is faulty or not working correctly, the solvent will become contaminated with water.

Manufacturing flaws are another common source of shrinkage in clothing. Many defective dresses have initial shrinkage after being dry cleaned.

Why Do Our Garments Shrink?

Since dry cleaning doesn’t include any water, you would think there’s no chance of your garments shrinking. The truth is that heat and agitation are more to blame than water.

An article of clothing shrinks because its fibers have shrunk and tightened. The already tiny spaces between the fibers shrink even further, making the clothing appear smaller all around.  This can be the result of the intense heat generated by the washing machine or the dryer, or it could be the result of the vigorous agitation and churning that occurs during the wet cleaning process.

Although dry cleaning is easier on clothes than using a washer, hand wash, and dryer, it still may cause some shrinking because of the heat and maybe the tumble. When compared to a regular wash, the likelihood of this happening is much reduced. When dropping off your clothes at the local dry cleaners, feel free to specify any items of clothing that you are especially concerned about.

Types of Fabrics Are Likely to Contract the Most

Not all materials indeed shrink the same amount. Some natural fabrics (such as cotton and wool) have a little give and may shrink when subjected to heat and agitation. In most cases, synthetics (such as nylon and polyester) won’t shrink significantly. Naturally, the maker has previously washed any item of clothing labeled “pre-shrunk,” so these items shouldn’t shrink much more after being washed.

To What End Do Garments Shrink?

Wet garments, like wet pages, get curled up (or shrink) when exposed to heat following a hot water wash, for the same reason that wet get crumpled up upon drying. The entire garment, not just the neck and the sleeves, shrinks when subjected to heat.

When clothes are exposed to heat, they shrink in every direction, and the effects are most noticeable in matching sets of pants and wool sweaters.

Does Dry Cleaning Cause Shrinkage to Clothes?

Water is also the culprit when you discover that your garment’s collar or sleeves have shrunk. Furthermore, water might also contribute to the reduction in size. Water causes the sweater’s sleeves to shrink, as you may have seen. This moisture accumulation occurs gradually and only when the environment isn’t monitored.

When dry cleaning, the solvent needs to include some moisture, but the fabric will shrink if there’s too much. A common misconception is that dry cleaning causes more shrinkage to clothes than regular washing. Don’t be shy about letting the dry cleaner know about any special instructions for a piece of clothing that you’re dropping off. They’ll treat your garments with the utmost care and delicacy.

Textiles With A High Potential For Shrinkage

Some textiles are less prone to shrinking than others. In response to friction and heat, natural fibers like wool and cotton become elastic and can be shrunk to a smaller size. Synthetics (such as nylon and polyester) rarely experience significant shrinkage.

Clothing that has been “pre-shrunk” by the maker must be able to withstand further shrinkage after being washed.

How to Prevent Shrinkage When Using Dry Cleaners

Dry cleaning is indeed far kinder to your clothes than the washing machine and dryer, but they still get a bit tossed around. For some temperatures, this contraction is inevitable.

Don’t forget to read the label! This may seem like common sense, yet surprisingly few people do this. It’s not uncommon for some people to shrug off identification tags. Labels are checked before any cleaning is done, but you must first communicate any special care instructions to the dry cleaning service.

If you have any stains to mention, please do so at the time of drop-off. Find the source of the stains so they can be documented and pretreated before cleaning. Be sure to highlight any embellishments or unique buttons.

Some clothing may have decorations or buttons that are very fragile. Given that you’re working with a non-cleaner, it’s important to find out if it can be shielded or cleaned in a completely separate area. Inquire as to whether or not they can be reattached.

Final Words

The Care label of a garment is the bible for securing your garment. If it says you can wash it in the washing machine you can try it, But sometimes your unconsciousness can ruin your garments if you put a dry clean only clothing in the washing machine. In this article, we discussed reasons for shrinking your clothes. Take proper care to prevent any kind of shrinkage and enjoy your attire for a longer period.

Read More Cloth Cleaning Articles:

Using Dishwashing Soap to Clean Grease Stains

How You Can Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes At Home

Can I Use Body Wash As Laundry Detergent?

How to Shrink Bikini Bottoms

Does Dry Cleaning Shrink Clothes?


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