The Reason Your Clothes Keep Shrinking

There's nothing worse than finishing a load of laundry and realizing that your favorite sweater or go-to pair of jeans no longer fits like it used to. Shrinking clothes in the wash is a common mistake, especially if you have a tendency to lump all your garments together into one load and run the washer in a rush. However, learning what causes fabric to shrink can help you prevent the mishap in the future.

Even if you're separating your clothes by color, there are a few other proactive measures you can take before doing a load of laundry to ensure your clothes stay in good shape. When it comes to shrinkage, the key things you need to consider are the different types of fabric your clothes are made of and how each kind reacts to varying washer and dryer settings.

It may sound complicated. But if you're trying to figure out why your clothes keep shrinking — and how to prevent it — we've got you covered.

Always check the care label on your clothing

The main reason clothes shrink in the wash is exposure to high temperatures, according to Business Insider. Hot water from your washer and hot air from your dryer are the primary culprits because they affect polymers, the fibers in fabric. In their natural state, polymers are short. But to make them into clothes, they're stretched out and stressed. So when you expose the fibers in your clothes to heat, it relieves the stress on them, and they return to their previous, shorter size. This makes the item shrink overall.

The good news is that shrinkage is easily preventable. Check the care label on your clothing item to figure out what type of fabric it's made of and how to properly care for it. Fabrics that absorb a lot of water, such as cotton or wool, should be washed in cool water to prevent the fibers from shrinking. Synthetic, heat-resistant fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, don't absorb as much water and therefore can be washed and dried at hot temperatures. Voila! Now you can confidently wash your favorite jeans without worrying if they'll still fit.