How to prevent clothes from shrinking and stretching

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Taking your laundry out of the dryer and finding that your favorite sweater or dress no longer fits can be quite disheartening. Unfortunately, this happens a lot, with garments getting either a size too small or stretching out with all of the washing and drying. With some fabrics, this might be unavoidable. However, there are a number of ways to reduce the degree of shrinkage or stretching, keeping your garment within its original fit.

1. Read the care label

A lot of shrinking and stretching happens during the laundry process. This is why it is important to pay attention to the care labels that are usually attached to garments. A care label provides guidelines on the best laundry techniques for your garment depending on the type of fabric it’s made of. It will indicate what method of cleaning is safest, between home washing or dry cleaning.

2. Use cold water

During washing, use cold water to ensure minimal damage to the fabric. Hot water normally causes fibers to relax, release tension and quickly go out of shape.

3. Use a gentle laundry cycle

When machine washing your clothes, choose the delicate cycle. With the low agitation involved here, there will be less stress on fabric. The gentle cycle takes less time to spin, and at a slow rate, helping clothes to retain their shape and size. This is a great setting to use when dealing with natural fibers.

4. Air dry your clothes

The dryer is a tempting option that gets your clothes dried in record time. However, if you’re keen on preventing your clothes from shrinking and stretching, you might have to ditch the dryer and opt for the old fashioned air drying. Air drying will avoid the heat from the dryer, which easily shrinks delicate fabrics. Do not air dry fabrics such as wool in direct sunlight, as they will shrink. Exposure to high wind might also stretch your clothes. I

5. Hang properly

If you’re going to air dry your clothes, how you put them to dry may affect how much they stay in shape. Drape your clothes on a rack or lay them flat on a laundry screen. Hanging them on hangers will cause stretching due to the added weight of water.

6. Buy pre-shrunk clothing

During manufacturing, the fiber might be stretched too much to allow maximum usage of little fabric in the construction of clothes. This stretches it out of its natural state, which means with the slightest exposure to heat, it will immediately relax back to its original state, resulting in shrinkage. To avoid falling victim to this technique, look for clothes with a label that indicate that they’re pre-shrunk while purchasing. Pre-shrunk garments have already been washed by the manufacturer, usually before weaving or sewing, which means there’s little to none chance for shrinkage as the fabric is not stretched.

Wear and tear over time will mean your clothes will shrink or stretch eventually, but with enough caution you can keep them fitting for a long time. Know what fabric you’re dealing with and how to deal with it, and this battle will be as good as won.

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