Do Sweatshirts Really Shrink in the Dryer?


Perhaps you have heard that old piece of advice that says never put your sweatshirts in the dryer. As the thinking goes, dryer heat is enough to shrink a sweatshirt. But is the advice true, or is it just an old wives’ tale? Legions of sweatshirt owners really want to know.

Unfortunately, the answer is not as black-and-white as it might seem. That’s because sweatshirts are not all made of the same material. There are differences between pure cottons and cotton blends. Also, dryer temperatures differ. And when shrinkage does occur, sometimes it is barely noticeable.

Plurawl, a New York City-based clothing brand, says that the key to preventing shrinkage is taking care of your sweatshirts like you would the most expensive piece of clothing you own. The company definitely recommends taking good care of their LatinX sweatshirts, hoodies, and T-shirts.

  1. 100% Cotton Shrinks

The dryer advice stems from the fact that sweatshirts used to be made from 100% cotton. The highest-quality sweatshirts still are. As wonderful a material as cotton is, it is also subject to shrinkage under high heat conditions. So yes, it’s entirely possible that a 100% cotton sweatshirt could shrink.

That being said, modern manufacturing methods are capable of creating cotton fabrics that don’t shrink drastically. A sweatshirt made of one of these fabrics might shrink slightly the first one or two times it is put through the dryer, but it will not shrink a full size. The shrinkage might be so slight and it’s not even noticeable.

  1. Cotton Blend Sweatshirts

These days, all but the highest-quality sweatshirts are likely to made with poly-cotton blends. These are fabrics made with a combination of cotton and polyester. Manufacturers prefer poly-cotton blends because they are less expensive but more durable. Customers seem to prefer them as well.

The biggest advantage poly-cotton blends bring to the table is that they do not shrink. You can feel free to put a poly-cotton sweatshirt in with the rest of your laundry knowing that it will come out of the dryer the same size it was when it went in.

If there is a downside to the poly-cotton blend, it could be that it’s not as soft as 100% cotton. But would you even notice? Perhaps, especially if you have sensitive skin. But whether the difference would be enough to warrant purchasing a more expensive garment, that is a matter of personal preference.

  1. Launder with Care

The summation of all of this is to say that some sweatshirts can shrink in the dryer. But by the same token, there are other ways to ruin sweatshirts as well. Mixing white sweatshirts with colored garments could lead to that bright white becoming an off-white. Washing graphic sweatshirts in hot water could lead to fading images and peeling letters.

The only way to preserve sweatshirts for as long as possible is to launder them with care. Then again, this is true for all your clothing. The more careful you are about washing and drying, the longer your garments will last. That is just common sense.

As for sweatshirts, launder them with other garments that are similar in color. Wash them in cold water, avoiding chlorine bleach at all costs. Feel free to throw them in the dryer with the rest of the laundry. Just don’t let the dryer run any longer than you have to.

While it is possible for sweatshirts to shrink in the dryer, it is not so common these days. Thanks to poly-cotton blends and newer manufacturing methods, your typical sweatshirt can go through the dryer with very little risk of shrinkage.

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