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Does Dry Cleaning Shrink Clothes?

March 21, 2023

Green dry cleaning is an excellent technique for maintaining your favorite garments. This procedure delivers a better cleaning and keeps garments cleaner for longer than traditional washing. However, does dry cleaning shrink your clothes?

In a nutshell, it shouldn’t. Under normal conditions, the dry-cleaning process will not cause your clothes to shrink or alter their shape. In this article, we’ll look more closely at the possibility of clothes shrinking and how or why it happens.  

Clean clothes hanging on a green dry cleaning shop

Dry-Cleaning and Shrinking Clothes

What Causes Clothes to Shrink?  

The fabric comprises various threads knitted together in the form of a web, and there are tiny gaps between the strands of this web. When wet fibers are subjected to heat, the water molecules evaporate, causing the fibers to shrink. The gaps begin to narrow, and the fibers move closer together as they evaporate.

Certain natural fibers, such as cotton, fur, or wool, are more prone to shrinking than other fabric types. Clothing that has not been pre-shrunk correctly is likewise more vulnerable to reduction in size.    

How to Avoid Shrinking Your Clothes   

You must know and understand the washing instructions for each piece of clothing to safeguard them. Some items cannot be washed in hot water and must be washed on the cold cycle alone. Some products can be washed but not dried, or this type of clothing must be hung or flat-dried.   

The Dry-Cleaning Method 

Dry cleaning is a method of preserving your clothes that do not include water use. Instead, a water-free liquid solvent is used to remove stains and filth and to refresh garments. No shrinkage means no wet washing. However, dry cleaning can shrink your clothes if the dry-cleaning machine malfunctions.

The equipment is connected to water (for other purposes), and water can occasionally leak into the dry-cleaning solvent. If this occurs, the escaping water in the solvent will affect the fibers when heated, just like putting a piece of wet clothing in the dryer.

Another issue could be a chiller malfunction. This machine continuously cycles and prevents the solvent from overheating. If the chiller malfunctions, the solvent can overheat and cause clothes to shrink.    

Which Fabrics Are Prone to Shrink?  

Different textiles have different levels of shrinkage resistance. Natural fibers (such as cotton and wool) have some give and can shrink in response to heat and agitation. Synthetic materials (like polyester and nylon) typically don’t shrink too much. Any clothing item that has been “pre-shrunk” by the manufacturer has already been washed; as a result, it should be quite resistant to further shrinkage.  

What Should You Do if Your Dry-Cleaned Clothes Shrink?

If you’ve observed that your sleeves or collar are getting smaller each time you return from the dry cleaners, it’s time to acquire a new one. Look for an environmentally friendly dry cleaner with a liquid carbon dioxide process. To clean textiles, this dry-cleaning method uses pressure rather than heat.  

Woman working at a green dry cleaning shop

Are You Interested in Green Dry Cleaning?

Find a dry cleaner knowledgeable about all fabrics and cleaning processes, and you’ll know your favorite garments are in good hands. At Go Green Dry Cleaners, our team will ensure that your clothes are in good hands. Give us a call to learn more about the service we offer!  

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