Will Dry Cleaning Shrink My Clothes?

For some of us, it’s our worst nightmare: the latest wash has left our favorite shirt or most stunning dress suddenly un-wearable. Clothing shrinkage is something most of us have experienced at some point with a standard washer/dryer combo, but can it happen with dry cleaning, too?

The short answer is: very rarely. In order to understand why, let’s take a look at what causes clothing to shrink – and how dry cleaning differs from standard washing.

What Causes Clothing to Shrink?

Shrinking ShirtYou might expect that since dry cleaning doesn’t use water, it should be immune to the dangers of shrinkage. The truth is that water is not the primary culprit here: it’s heat and agitation.

When clothes shrink, it’s because the individual fibers that make them up have contracted and tightened up. The tiny gaps between each fiber become even tinier, until the whole garment is noticeably smaller. This can happen due to heat – whether from hot water in the washing machine, or hot air in the dryer – and can also be caused by the heavy churning and tumbling that takes place during the laundering process.

Dry cleaning is gentler on garments than a washer/dryer, but since there is a measure of heat (and sometimes tumbling) involved, it’s certainly possible that some shrinkage could occur. This is considerably less likely to happen than with a standard wash. If you are particularly concerned about an item of clothing, feel free to mention it to the dry cleaners. Good ones can offer special attention and an extra-delicate touch.

Which Fabrics Are Most Likely to Shrink?

Some fabrics are more resistant to shrinking than others. Natural fibers (like cotton and wool) are somewhat stretchy, and may contract with heat and agitation. In general, synthetics (like polyester and nylon) aren’t likely to shrink in any noticeable way. Of course, any article of clothing that’s “pre-shrunk” by the manufacturer has already been laundered – these should be pretty resistant to further shrinkage.

Looking for Atlanta’s best dry cleaning services? Contact Classic Touch Cleaners today.