How to Prevent Your Clothes from Shrinking in the Dryer

Daughter helping turn on the washing machineThey’re soft, stretchy, and heavenly. You love everything about your favorite pair of pants — except for that fresh ketchup stain. So, you throw your pants in the washer and dryer. A few hours later you come back to a tragic scene.

The dryer shrunk your precious pants! They’re small enough to fit a teddy bear. While the teddy bear can get away with not wearing pants, you can’t. Luckily, there are ways you can prevent your clothes from shrinking in the dryer.

Why Do Clothes Shrink in the Dryer?

Your dryer doesn’t shrink your clothes to mess with you, though it may seem like it does. Certain materials such as cotton, wool, and linen are naturally prone to shrinkage. Why? Because they’re held together by chemical bonds. Those bonds bend and break when subjected to the high heat and aggressive tumbling that’s typical in a regular dry cycle.

How Do I Stop My Clothes from Shrinking?

1. Read the Care Label

Following directions may seem boring and unnecessary…until you’re squeezing into those toddler-sized pants you just pulled from the dryer. Take a minute to check your clothes’ care labels and understand the laundry symbols on them before dumping your hamper into the wash. Keeping your clothes from shrinking might be as easy as turning down the heat setting on your dryer — but there’s no way of knowing until you check the tags!

2. Use Cold Water When Washing

Prevention starts with the wash cycle. Cold water may not only help prevent your clothes from fading, but it may also reduce fabric shrinkage! This is because cooler temps are less likely to compromise the bonds between your items’ threads.

3. Choose the “Air Fluff” or “Tumble” Setting

Newer washer/dryer sets come with a variety of convenient functionalities that let you do laundry on your own terms. For example, the Maytag 3.8 Cu. Ft. Washer and 7.0 Cu. Ft. Electric Dryer laundry set, has 12 dry cycles that make it easy to customize settings like dryer temperature and speed. Some dryers come with a “Tumble,” “Spin,” or “Air Dry” setting, which uses motion instead of heat to dry your clothes, helping to prevent the fiber damage that leads to shrinkage.


Maytag 3.8 Cu. Ft. Washer and 7.0 Cu. Ft. Electric DryerMaytag 3.8 Cu. Ft. Washer and 7.0 Cu. Ft. Electric Dryer

Got powerful smells and stains? This Maytag laundry set is tough on dirt and gentle on delicate fabrics.

  • Sensor drying technology
  • Built-in water faucet

 

Shop washer and dryer sets >

 


4. Don’t Overdry Your Clothes

If you don’t have a high-efficiency dryer like the Amana 6.5 Cu. Ft. Electric Dryer with Automatic Dryness Control, you may not have “Automatic Dry,” which shuts the appliance off once the clothes are dry. Not only does this save energy, but it also saves your clothes from unnecessary heat exposure.

Even if your dryer doesn’t shut down automatically, you can still dry your clothes in short intervals, checking for dampness after each cycle instead of turning to the longest setting and letting the machine time out on its own.


Whirlpool 4.8 Cu. Ft. Top-Load Washer and 7.4 Cu. Ft. Electric DryerWhirlpool 4.8 Cu. Ft. Top-Load Washer and 7.4 Cu. Ft. Electric Dryer

Say goodbye to stinky sweat patches and hello to long-lasting freshness with the power and efficiency of this Whirlpool Washer Dryer set.

  • Built-in water faucet
  • Intuitive touch controls
  • Adaptive wash technology

 

Shop washer and dryer sets >

 


5. Use the Lowest Heat Setting

Not all dryers have a tumble or air dry option, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. Simply turn your dryer’s temperature knob to “low heat.” If you can’t find that setting, select “delicate” or “gentle” instead.

6. Consider Air Drying

Doesn’t drying your linens on a backyard clothesline sound lovely? No? We get it. Air drying clothes isn’t super fast or super convenient, but it may be the best way to keep your delicates looking new.

Plus, according to Spark Energy, dryers are the fourth most energy-guzzling appliances in American homes, so using yours less often could reduce your carbon footprint and your electricity bill. If you’re concerned about energy savings, you can also look at Energy Star certified dryers, which use 20% less energy than competing models.

7. Upgrade Your Current Washer/Dryer Set

If you keep racking your brain over what’s ruining your favorite tees — take a look at your old washer and dryer set. Chances are they were designed for the clothes of their time, and haven’t adapted to modern trends and textiles like the ones in your closet.

Rather than buying new clothes to replace the shrunken ones, consider an upgrade with Rent-A-Center. You won’t have to pay heavy upfront prices and you can choose flexible payments. You don’t have to fret about breaking the bank for a new washer and dryer set! Visit your local Rent-A-Center for affordable payments on rent-to-own appliances from Amana, Whirlpool, or Maytag. We have all styles and sizes of washers and dryers for sale!

Whirlpool Washers and DryersMaytag Washers and Dryers