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cotton shirts, laundering and SHRINKAGE!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I've always dry cleaned all of my dress shirts for years, but decided I would have them laundered last week... I got them back yesterday only to find that not a single one fit anymore!

I'm not sure if I should blame the cleaners or myself... but hundreds of dollars worth of cotton shirts were completely ruined and can no longer be worn.

How much do cotton shirts normally shrink in wash? Is it only when placed in the dryer and if so... what are the normal laundering techniques? Is it my fault for not specifying that they should NOT be placed int he dryer... even though it clearly states on the washing instructions?

I must admit that I really had no clue what the laundering process was. I have a washer and dryer at home and could've done the same thing but assumed that no high end laundering service would be dumb enough to take my shirts and dump them in a dryer!! I figured they would've been hung and pressed somehow.

Is this my own fault or should I go back and ask them to take responsibility? I'm devastated that half of my shirts are completely ruined now, inclouding some very expensive and one of a kind items.

Is it normal for cotton shirts to shrink 1-3 inches? And is there any way to stretch them out and salvage them if so?

I stretched one shirt by hand and got an extra inch and a half out of it... but all my favorite button downs now fall at least 2" below my wrists. If I raise my hands in the air... I may as well be wearing short sleeves!

What to do??

I'd like to know for next time as well, whether laundering is a bad idea and I should go back to dry cleaning. I got the impression otherwise, however I'm really upset about what happened this weekend.
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 
Is it normal for a 100% cotton shirt to shrink 2-3" in the sleeves/cuff at the laundry? The collar was extremely tight as well, I had to wrestle with it to button. As I went out late last night and got suited up at my parent's house, I had no other choice but to wear it out. It was extremely restrictive and uncomfortable, although I have a feeling that I probably helped the collar a bit by wearing it out. Do I have to upsize from 15 to 15.5 now if laundering shirts?? It seems ridiculous to me that I'd have to buy clothing above my fitted size, just to wear without them getting shrunk into oblivion like these shirts. Do I go back to dry cleaning? Do I complain to the laundering service and ask them to replace my shirts??
post #3 of 16
I can't say for certain as I'm no expert, I have not experienced any shrinkage (or perhaps some negligible shrinkage) when I cold water machine wash my shirts, hang them to dry and then iron when slightly damp.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
I just want to determine whether I should return and ask the cleaners to compensate for the shirts that were ruined. I'm really upset about it. I can't imagine that anyone who wears a size 15 would have to purchase a 15.5 or 16 (or any size not true to fit) just to accommodate shrink on cotton shirts. Is there a way to have shrunken shirts pulled out and stretched in the arms and collar?? Is this reflective of the quality of shirts I bought, the cleaners, or simply the process??
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
And should I go back to dry cleaning my dress shirts for roughly the same cost and without worry?
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just double checked all shirts and for some reason the 2 cotton-poly blends were spared. Or at least, the shrinking was minimal, if at all, and they could probably be stretched back to normal. It's just the 100% cotton shirts that were destroyed.
post #7 of 16
I'm sorry to interrupt, but many would appreciate it if you could edit your posts insted of multi-posting. Thank you.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian B View Post
I'm sorry to interrupt, but many would appreciate it if you could edit your posts insted of multi-posting. Thank you.

Sure, I'm sorry. I was just hoping to get a response.


Back on topic: I'm going to be ordering new shirts this afternoon, and wonder if I should take 15Long instead of 15R to give myself an extra inch just to be safe? I'd still like to know what I can do witht he cleaners, if anything. I'd say that close to a thousand dollars worth of shirts were ruined by them. Including many favorites that can never be replaced.
post #9 of 16
Go and talk to them, ask how they cleaned them and that they have shrunken a considerable amount. In the futere, wash it yourself in the machine with cold water and hang-dry them. Problem solved.
post #10 of 16
The short answer is, yes, commercial laundries will shrink your shirts. I buy one size up.

But I have a little trouble believing that you had your shirts "dry cleaned" for years. The only dress shirts I know that could be dry cleaned would be silk or rayon. How could someone dry-clean cotton?

Perhaps you mean that you took your shirts to a dry-cleaner. If so, I can assure you that they would be laundered there ---- washed with detergent, and pressed afterward.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Yes, I've always taken my shirts to the dry cleaner and never specified anything other than that I wanted them pressed and hung afterwords.. I've never had this problem before though. I switched over to a new cleaner prior to this mishap.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bananafish View Post
Yes, I've always taken my shirts to the dry cleaner and never specified anything other than that I wanted them pressed and hung afterwords.. I've never had this problem before though.

I switched over to a new cleaner prior to this mishap.

If a cotton shirt would shrink 2-3" in the sleeves, that is not just the cleaner problem, it is also the shirtmaker problem.
I don't think a dry cleaner will dry clean a cotton shirt if you don't specify to do so.
And I don't think any commercial laundries will hang your shirts to dry.
post #13 of 16
It's impossible to answer your question unless you have a clear understanding (a) which specific shirts were dry cleaned and which shirts were laundered, (b) which specific shirts were hand pressed and which shirts were machine pressed, (c) why the cleaner chose to dry clean specific shirts and launder others, and (d) what dry clean process they use and what shirt laundry process they use. There is no single answer to your question. Shirts are different... different fabrics, colors, trims, buttons, etc. Processes are different...even within the specific category of "dry cleaning" or "shirt laundry". Each shirt must be individually analyzed in order to provide you with a reasonably intelligent diagnosis. Caveat: cleaners often lie about what they did or didn't do, confident in the knowledge that you don't have the technical knowledge and trained eye necessary to analyse each shirt and catch them in the lie. Happy hunting! For a better understanding of the dry clean vs laundry dilemma.... Blog post: Shirts and blouses - to dry clean or launder? http://www.ravefabricare.com/true-qu...r-launder.aspx
post #14 of 16
I feel your frustration
But you are all over the place and give conflicting info
A cotton shirt should not be dry cleaned you mention 2 to3 inchs shrinkage
and than you are able to strech 1 to 1 1/2 inch makes no sense.
You go to a new laundry and give them all your shirt" some invaluable"
Now you want to go back and ask replacement of your shirts?
It is funny people do funny things and then post on forums looking for remedies.
Freddy Vandecasteele
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian B View Post
Go and talk to them, ask how they cleaned them and that they have shrunken a considerable amount. In the futere, wash it yourself in the machine with cold water and hang-dry them. Problem solved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishball View Post
If a cotton shirt would shrink 2-3" in the sleeves, that is not just the cleaner problem, it is also the shirtmaker problem.
I don't think a dry cleaner will dry clean a cotton shirt if you don't specify to do so.
And I don't think any commercial laundries will hang your shirts to dry.

This.

Unless you have no time, just wash them yourself and hang to dry. Saves your shirts and your wallet.
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