Shrinkage is the change in size along the length and width of the fabric after washing. Strictly speaking, shrinkage is a test parameter for textiles. Fabrics with shrinkage defects are unstable and can cause warping in garments or other items made from these materials. Shrinkage is tested at different stages, but the most important thing is to do this before the fabric is cut and sewn, as well as after sewing, before the product is delivered to end-users. This is a necessary quality control parameter. The tests are carried out under conditions consistent with the recommendations on the product tags.
Why Does Fabric Shrinkage Occur?
To understand why a sweater has shrunk in size, let's see why the fabric shrinks in principle. All fabrics are made from intertwined fibers. Fibers of different origins and the way they are woven give rise to different types of fabrics. For example, cotton is the basis for satin and denim, which are two very different products. Their main differences relate to how they are woven and how tightly it is done.
There are two types of fiber — synthetic and organic, natural. Synthetic ones differ from organic materials in one critical aspect. Synthetics are man-made polymers such as polyester, rayon, etc., and are made from petroleum-based chemical chains. Synthetic fibers do not shrink because the washing machine does not heat up enough for these petroleum products to change their molecular structure. Moreover, these fibers are made straight and ready to weave.
Organic fibers, on the other hand, are not straight. Plus, they are elastic. Therefore, the looser the plexus, the more freedom of movement for the fibers. Manufacturers must first stretch them before making them usable. This stretching creates tension at the molecular level. This stress is released in the fabric swollen from moisture when heated, as well as with strong mechanical stress: from a washing machine, dryer, steam, and even sunlight, which leads to a reduction in the size of the fabric to its natural size. Fabrics that can absorb large amounts of water (wool, linen, etc.) have the greatest shrinkage.
How Can I Shrink My Baby's Clothes One Size Down?
During daily wear, clothes tend to stretch and change their original shape. Children are very active, and it influences the state of the clothes. Therefore, parents are always in search of opportunities for how to shrink baby clothes, but at the same time do not lose their color and original qualities.
Regular wear mostly influences clothing made from natural and blended fabrics. It is practically impossible to restore the exclusively synthetic fibers of the fabric after stretching using only washing. Therefore, the effectiveness of the recommendations provided will depend on the type and quality of the fabrics of the product.
Laundry does not require special expensive products and powders. The whole secret of success will depend on the correct temperature contrast and detergents correctly selected for the type and color of the fabric.
Equipment to shrink baby clothes
You don't need any special products to shrink the item. The main things that are required of you:
- Decide on the quality of the fabric from which the clothes are made.
- Prepare a washing machine.
- Buy a powder that matches the characteristics of the fabric from which the item is sewn.
- Create contrasting temperatures for washing and rinsing water.
- Prepare iron and bowls.
- Take the towels — these will help dry wet clothes.
Stock up on the required inventory, provide yourself with information, and most importantly, prepare the item that needs shrinkage and get to work.
Wool and its secrets on shrinkage
Knowing the peculiarities of wool fibers and the nuances of their washing, you can easily develop tactics on how to wash woolen items so that to shrink baby clothes. When working with woolen clothes, there is an important rule: wool does not tolerate sudden temperature changes and requires careful attention. Before washing, you need to read the washing instructions, study labels, and tags on the product. Find out the manufacturer's specific recommendations for the care of the woolen cloth.
To shrink baby clothes, you will have to slightly violate the established rules, but this will have to be done with accuracy and care. If the sweater, for example, is stretched, then you need to proceed as follows:
- soak the thing for 30 minutes in water, which is 20 °C degrees higher than indicated on the label;
- then, rinse it in cool water;
- the more shrinkage is needed, the higher the temperature difference of the liquid between washing and rinsing should be;
- it is not recommended to twist woolen items.
Wash by Hand or in the Washing Machine?
Shrinkage of fabric is almost a jewelry process, so manual work will take most of its process. Based on the type of fabric used to make the garment, hand wash, automatic wash, or a combination of both is applied. The right combination of washing modes, temperature, and time will allow you to control the shrinkage of things down to size.
How can I shrink baby clothes back to their original size?
This method can be used for both cotton items and other common fabrics. Its peculiarity lies in the alternation of temperatures.
- For controlled shrinkage, only a clean item is used — before you can reduce the size of your clothing, it must be free from blood, juice, or soil in the manner recommended by the manufacturer.
- In a previously prepared bowl, pour the hottest water possible, almost boiling water is permissible. The amount of liquid should be such that it completely covers the item.
- Wait for the water to cool completely, after which take out the thing and squeeze it out a little.
- Now the cold water is poured into the basin, you can place previously prepared ice on the bottom.
- The clothes are again completely immersed in cold water for 15-30 minutes.
- After this time, take it out, squeeze it a little to get rid of excess moisture, lay it on a clean, dry towel, and smooth out the folds.
- Wait until the fabric is completely dry.
This method allows you to wash a thing so that it becomes several sizes smaller. It is not suitable for wardrobe items made of fine and expensive fabrics (dresses, expensive shirts, and pants), and for things that are inconvenient to soak in a container of water.
Will Baby Clothes Shrink in the Dryer?
Basically, the ability of the item to shrink depends on the fabric it is made of. So, you should carefully check its qualities before trying to shrink baby clothes.
Add 20 degrees to the recommended temperature, and 200-300 spins more than those indicated by the manufacturer. After the end of spinning, the item is placed in a basin and filled with very hot water. Add a little conditioner to soften the clean item. The basin is tightly closed and left in this form for 10 minutes. Drying your clothes quickly in the dryer will make them shrink a little more.
- Synthetics, viscose
Synthetic fabrics are even more resistant to shrinkage than natural cotton. It is recommended to wash them in the machine at the highest possible speed without using softening conditioners. Long exposure of synthetics to the coldest water will allow you to compress it by 1-2 sizes, while drying it very slowly, without squeezing. The high heat will make it shrink even more.
Try to wash denim with more spins (600-800 rpm range), then dry the item quickly using a drying machine with high heat.
Wash acrylic in a delicate wash mode with the lowest possible temperature and without spinning. High heat is unacceptable! You cannot just put the item in the drum — use a special bag for washing. At the end of the wash, the acrylic item should be slightly damp. Spread it on a dry towel and leave it that way until it dries completely. Don’t use the dryer for it.
Do clothes have to be wet to shrink in the dryer?
After taking the clothes out of the washing machine, they should be wet if you want to put them in the dryer. However, various fabrics require a different number of spins so, some items might be almost dry. For some fabrics, you should use low heat while denim, for example, requires high heat. It is recommended to check the requirements for every type of material separately.
Do Baby Clothes Take Longer to Dry?
Basically, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve decided to shrink baby clothes or adult ones. As you have already read, the main issue to pay attention to is the material the item is made of. They have their own characteristics and react differently to temperature changes, hot water, and the number of spins. At the same time, baby clothes are usually more delicate, so you should use low heat when washing and drying them.