The best known characteristics of cotton are that it is natural, breathable, comfortable, and that it shrinks. A new t-shirt made from 100 percent cotton or close to 100 percent, can be expected to shrink a little after the first wash. However, there are ways to get the t-shirt to remain at its original size and to keep shrinkage at bay. It takes a little special care, but a cotton t-shirt can be kept from shrinking for as long as you own it.
The way that the t-shirt is washed will largely determine whether it shrinks and how much it shrinks. One of the main causes of shrinking in t-shirts is heat. It’s important to try to avoid applying heat to your t-shirts if you want to keep them at their original size. There are a few ways to avoid heat and keep the cotton from shrinking.
The first thing to consider when avoiding heat is how the t-shirt will be washed. Most people wash t-shirts in warm or hot water to rid it of odors and to get rid of the tougher stains. The problem with this is that the entire t-shirt will suffer for the small portion that really needs the attention. If there is a tough stain on a part of the shirt, use a little soap and cold water in the sink. Simply rub the soap across the area and rub the t-shirt repeatedly under the running water. This will get most things out of the fabric as long as they have not had a long period to set.
When you wash the entire shirt, use only cold water. Once you’ve used warm water on it even once, it will be too late to save it from shrinkage. The cold water will wash the t-shirt and will not cause it to shrink. Use a slow agitation as well when washing the shirt. If there is a slow or delicate cycle on the washer, it will provide the slow agitation that the t-shirt needs.
Drying the t-shirt is where many people accidently shrink their shirts. A hot dryer will shrink cotton that has not already been pre-shrunk. The dryer must be avoided in order to prevent shrinking. The t-shirt can be dried in a number of other ways. If it is hung out in the sun, there is a chance that the heat will shrink the t-shirt. Drying it inside is a much safer way.
The t-shirt can be laid flat on a clean surface and allowed to dry on its own. You may have to flip it over to dry the other side after a few hours. For a t-shirt that dries faster, hang it up on a hanger and allow it to drip dry. Be sure to place something under the t-shirt in order to catch the water. For an even faster drying time, place a fan next to a hanging t-shirt and let the cool air of the fan blow it dry. A t-shirt that doesn’t shrink will maintain its size and shape through many, many cold washes.