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Do tumble dryers shrink clothes?: How to use tumble dryers

Here you'll find tips for how to not shrink clothes in tumble dryer and help them fit perfectly.


pile of clothes
  • Gentle detergents help your clothes maintain their shape in the wash.
  • Use low heat settings when drying.
  • Only dry your clothes in one cycle.
  • Clean the lint tray after every cycle.
  • Use dryer sheets or essential oils to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
  • Sort your washing according to drying method when you empty the washing machine. Besides fabrics that shouldn’t go in the tumble dryer, stretchy cotton items and printed cotton clothes should be left to air-dry to better preserve them.

    We all want our favourite clothes to fit better and last longer, so when we accidentally shrink our favourite clothing in the dryer, it can be a bit of nightmare. We’ve put together our top tips for how to not shrink clothes in tumble dryer and make them last as long as possible.

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    Why do clothes shrink in the dryer?

    Drying clothes in the tumble dryer can shrink your clothes for two reasons:

    1. Most textiles and fabrics shrink when exposed to high heat, and tumble dryers use heat to remove moisture and dry your clothes.
    2. The other way tumble dryers work to dry your clothes is to rotate them. The tossing motion can cause fibres to constrict, thus shrinking your clothes.

    How to prevent clothes from shrinking in dryer

    These useful steps will help you learn how to stop clothes from shrinking in the tumble dryer:

    1. Always check the care label first, as some fabrics should never be dried in a tumble dryer.
    2. Use a cold water setting on your washing machine (30 degrees is fine), so the clothing is not hot when you put it in the dryer.
    3. Always dry your clothes on the lowest heat setting.
    4. Avoid long cycles as this adds to the time your clothing will be going through the tumble motion.
    5. Always try to only dry your clothing on one cycle. Using the tumble dryer more than once will only irritate the fibres more.
    6. Always empty your tumble dryer as soon as the cycle is finished, then hang or fold your clothes to help them stay in shape.

    How to make clothes smell good in dryer cycles

    You may be worried about your clothes smelling damp if you dry them on a slower, colder cycle, but there are ways you can still keep your clothes smelling fresh. These include:

    • Removing your clothes from the washing machine as soon as the cycle finishes and immediately moving them to the dryer.
    • Using dryer sheets or a few drops of essential oils on a cloth inside your tumble dryer with the clothes while they are on a drying cycle.
    • Always ensuring that your clothes are fully dry before folding them and putting them away.
    • Cleaning the lint tray after every cycle, and regularly emptying the water drawer.
    • Regularly cleaning your tumble dryer to avoid any damp or mildew odours being put into your clothes as they dry.

    Now we’ve answered all your top tumble dryer questions such as “do tumble dryers shrink clothes?” and how to avoid shrinking clothes in dryers, you know how to use tumble dryers the right way to make sure your clothes dry and fit perfectly every time.    

    Originally published