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What Types of Clothing and Fabrics Could Actually Shrink in the Dryer?

Posted by Patricia Spencer on
What Types of Clothing and Fabrics Could Actually Shrink in the Dryer?


At Grab Green Home, we have all of your laundry-related needs covered, from eco friendly detergent pods to natural dryer sheets.  Our non-toxic cleaning products, which just so happen to also be eco friendly cleaning products, allow you to take care of your clothing using plant derivatives rather than harsh chemicals that are every bit as bad for the environment as they are for your health.

But, some clothing items require special care, since they’re either too delicate to handle standard wash cycles, or because the materials that they’re made of are prone to shrinking.  The heat and agitation of the dryer can prove to be too much for certain materials like wool, silk, and pure cotton, as the fibers change properties when exposed to these conditions, shrinking as a result.

Fabrics You Need to Know That Have a High Chance of Shrinking in the Dryer

Because we don’t ever want you to run into this problem when using our all-natural cleaning products, we’ve compiled a list of materials that absolutely cannot go into the dryer, and therefore require an air-drying method instead.


Yes, 100% cotton can shrink – think about your favorite pair of jeans, which always feels a little tighter than usual after going through the laundry.  This is more likely to open if you’re drying on the hot setting, so if you must dry pure cotton fabrics, you’ll want to keep the heat as low as possible – or simply hang-dry, as many people do.  Note that cotton blends are less prone to shrinking than 100% cotton garments.


Wool notoriously shrinks in the dryer, and many of us learn this the hard way when our sweater suddenly becomes too small to even fit our child.  Wool simply can’t handle the heat of your dryer, and won’t just shrink, but will warp and “felt” – a term used to describe a change in the wool’s texture, which becomes more like felt than woven yarn.  100% wool garments, including sweaters, suits and pants, are best left to the drycleaner since even handwashing can damage them.


Lace can be made from all kinds of materials, but many of these materials can and will shrink if dried in the dryer.  Besides that, lace is extremely delicate, so the agitation of a dryer alone can cause it to weaken or tear during the cycle.  Lace should be handwashed and air-dried.

Leather (Even Faux)

Leather, including faux leather (pleather, etc.) will shrink in the dryer.  Besides that, leather garments should never go into a washer or a dryer, since it will become damaged, causing it to crack, wear or get scraped up due to the agitation of these machines.  Leather should be cleaned using specialized leather-cleaning products instead.

Suede (Even Faux)

Suede has enough similar properties to leather that the same rules apply – again, even with faux suede.  Suede, like leather, needs to be cleaned using special products meant for this type of material, and getting real suede wet will ruin it.


Not only are linen garments popular, but linen bedsheets are extremely trendy right now, so it’s not surprising that a lot of people are running their linen bedding through the dryer.  Linen does shrink, not only when run through a hot dryer cycle but when wet.  That’s why you want to keep all laundry settings cool to lukewarm to avoid any shrinkage.


Viscose is a material that shrinks more and more the more frequently you put it in the dryer.  Its fibers simply get smaller with each drying session.  So, in this case, air-drying is best.


Silk is a material that shouldn’t go in the washer or dryer, period.  Besides the fact that silk will shrink in the dryer, it’s far too delicate to handle either cycle.  Either handwash and air-dry, or bring it to the drycleaners.


Even the delicate cycle can damage rayon, causing it to shrink and become damaged in general.  Rayon can’t handle heat either, so you’ll want to stick to handwashing it in cool to lukewarm water, and letting it airdry.  This applies to rayon lingerie as well as clothing items.


Cashmere, like wool, should not go in the washer or the dryer, because it will shrink and wear quickly.  Cashmere should strictly go to the drycleaners.


Spandex can shrink in the dryer, and in most cases, it will stretch back out once you wear the item again. 

Don’t Ruin Your Favorite Clothes – Air-Drying Works Just as Well for Shrinkage-Prone Fabrics

The bottom line is that if a garment can’t be dried in the dryer, you will need to let it air-dry, or else your garment may be ruined forever.  Simply look at the care label on your garment, which will tell you everything that you need to know about how to dry it properly based on the material from which it’s made.

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