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Distinguished Member
Mar 9, 2006
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Maybe I should have posted this in the Body Consciousness section?

Anyway, I find this article hard to believe but apparently this is the reason for cotton shrinkage. I knew that heat in the dryer wasn't the culprit, I was taught in college that it was the cooling which shrank the clothes.

I guess I was wrong. It's the "tumbling" in the dryer.

Clothes: Fear the Dryer No More -- Shrinkage no longer a necessary evil
Release Date: Thursday, September 29, 2005

New York, NY - Forget what your mom taught you about heat causing your cotton clothes to shrink in the dryer. She was wrong.

Many articles of cotton clothing have met an untimely death following an unsuccessful bout with a dryer. It was always assumed that the heat was the culprit, but what if that's not true? What if the drying temperature was not to blame?

According to research by Cotton Incorporated, the shrinkage of your favorite cotton shirt is not caused by drying temperatures as previously believed. The tumbling action that takes place in the dryer causes moisture to evaporate from the garment, leading your clothes to shrink.

Don Bailey, Vice President, Textile Research and Implementation at Cotton Incorporated adds, "Consumers often wonder why their cotton knits do not shrink when they are laid flat or hung to dry; yet, the same product shrinks when tumbled in the dryer. The most recent results show that it is the tumbling action, not the temperature which causes the shrinkage."

To prove this information, researchers washed a standard load of 100% cotton interlock fabric, putting it into a dryer with the heat source removed. After 45 minutes of tumbling, the fabric had shrunk over 20%.

Two other loads put in dryers with temperatures of 150°F and 200°F respectively, possessed the same amount of shrinkage in a less amount of time, proving that temperature affects drying time, but not the level of shrinkage.

"These findings show that the preferred method of laundering a knitted cotton garment is to tumble for no more than five minutes to remove wrinkles, then hang them to dry," says Bailey.

Not only will your clothes last longer, but Mom will be impressed at what a laundry guru you've become.

Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton.

Why do cotton and wool shrink when you wash them?
There are two kinds of shrinkage. Progressive shrinkage occurs when the fiber itself shrinks. Wool fiber shrinks a little more each time it is washed, which is why wool is usually dry cleaned. Relaxation shrinkage is when the fabric shrinks. It is caused by the tension applied to yarns and fabrics during construction. The tension is released when the fabric is washed or steam pressed, causing it to shrink to its natural size. Most cotton fabric shrinkage occurs during the first wash.



Stylish Dinosaur
Mar 10, 2006
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Good to know. Now, do they make tumble-less dryers?

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