Washing your clothes in warm water: what you need to know

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Written By Gabriela
Gabriela is a science journalist and writer. She has a PhD in biochemistry and a master's degree in science communication. Gabriela has published articles in magazines and newspapers in Mexico and USA, and has also given talks on science subjects.






Washing your clothes in warm water can be a great way to get them clean while also saving energy. But did you know that washing your clothes in warm water can also shrink them? That’s right – if you’re not careful, your clothes can end up a lot smaller than they were when you put them in the wash.

So what should you do if you want to wash your clothes in warm water? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about washing your clothes in warm water. We’ll give you some tips on how to avoid shrinking your clothes, and we’ll also tell you what to do if it happens. Read on to find out everything you need to know about washing your clothes in warm water!

Does warm water shrink clothes?

Both hot and warm water can cause certain items to shrink. Warm water will shrink them more gradually over multiple washes. Use cooler water to be safe and conserve energy.

If you’re unsure whether an item can handle hot water, err on the side of caution and use warm or cool water instead. You can always check the care label for washing instructions.

Here are some general tips for washing clothes in warm water:

  • Wash dark colors separately from light colors.
  • Turn clothes inside out before washing.
  • Use a mild detergent.
  • Don’t overstuff the washing machine.

Washing your clothes in warm water is generally safe, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you have any concerns, always check the care label before washing.

What fabric shrinks in hot water?

100% cotton, silk, wool, linen, and hemp are fabrics that will shrink the most in hot water. Clothes made from natural fibers tend to shrink more than clothing made from synthetic fibers. Garments made from synthetic fibers such as polyester (can you shrink polyester), nylon, and spandex are resistant to shrinkage.

When laundering clothes, it is important to check the care label first. The care label will give instructions on how to launder the garment without damaging it. Most care labels will have a symbol that looks like a tub with wavy lines inside of it. This is the symbol for washing and it will have a number inside of it. The number corresponds to the water temperature in which you should wash the garment. The tub with the wavy lines and the number inside of it will also have a hand inside of it or a line through it. This indicates whether the clothing should be washed by hand or in a washing machine. If the care label has a hand inside of the tub, this means that the clothing should be hand washed in order not to damage it.

Fabrics that should be washed in cool water include silk, wool, linen, and hemp. These fabrics are delicate and can be damaged by hot water. Polyester, nylon, and spandex are synthetic fibers that can withstand hot water without shrinking or being damaged.

To shrink clothes made from natural fibers, first wash them in warm water using a mild detergent. Then, rinse the garments in hot water. Next, put the clothes in the dryer on high heat. Check the garments periodically to make sure they are shrinking to the desired size.

It is important to note that some fabrics cannot be shrunk. These include acetate, rayon, and triacetate. If you are unsure whether a fabric can be shrunk, it is best to err on the side of caution and not try to shrink it.

What shrinks clothes more washing or drying?

The truth is that your washing machine is equally capable of shrinking your clothes, and not just with the wrong water temperature. Agitation is what causes animal fabrics like wool, mohair and cashmere to shrink, which is why it’s best to have them dry cleaned.

That being said, there are certain fabrics that are more likely to shrink in the dryer than in the washing machine. Polyester, for example, can actually shrink up to 5% in the dryer. So if you’re intending to wash and dry your clothes, be sure to read the care label first.

As a general rule of thumb, synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are less likely to shrink in the washing machine, while natural fabrics like cotton and wool are more likely to shrink in the dryer.

  • To avoid shrinking your clothes:
    1. Read the care label before washing or drying
    2. If possible, wash in cold water and line dry
    3. Use a delicate cycle for fragile fabrics
  • If you must use the dryer:
    1. Dry on a low or delicate setting
    2. Remove clothes from the dryer while they’re still slightly damp

Do clothes get just as clean in cold water?

You may have heard that cold water is just as effective as hot water when it comes to cleaning your clothes. Is this true? Let’s take a closer look.

What’s the difference between hot and cold water?

Hot water is typically better at removing dirt, stains, and bacteria from clothing. This is because hot water can break down grease and oils more effectively than cold water.

Cold water, on the other hand, is better at preserving color and preventing shrinking. That’s why it’s often the recommended setting for delicate fabrics.

So which is better for laundry?

The answer may sound unexpected: neither! In most cases, lukewarm water will get your clothes just as clean as hot or cold water.

The only time you might need to use hot water is if you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn stain. But be careful – hot water can damage some fabrics.

  • Stick to lukewarm water for most loads of laundry.
  • Use hot water sparingly – it can damage some fabrics.
  • Cold water is fine for delicate fabrics.

What happens if you wash clothes in warm water instead of cold?

There are a few things that can happen if you choose to wash your clothes in warm water instead of cold.

Colors may bleed and run together. This is because the warmer water can cause dyes to break down and bleed, especially if the clothing is new. Clothes may also shrink. Heat can break down the fibers in clothing, causing them to shrink. This is why it’s important to read the care labels on clothing before washing it. Warm water can also set stains. If you’re trying to remove a stain, warm water can actually set it, making it harder to remove. So, it’s best to use cold water when pre-treating a stain.

Overall, it’s best to wash your clothes in cold water. This will help keep the colors from bleeding and fading and will help prevent shrinking and set-in stains.

What temperature will shrink cotton?

Hot water is the major culprit in reducing the cotton fabric’s size, and it is because of the temperature. Hot water, usually about 130 Fahrenheit, will lose up the cotton fabric and reduce the size.

Cotton can withstand high temperatures, up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (the boiling point of water), before it begins to break down. When you subject cotton fabric to hot water, the heat causes the fibers to loosen and unravel. As a result, the fabric shrinks and becomes distorted.

To avoid shrinkage, you should always wash cotton garments in cold water. If you must wash them in hot water, do so on a delicate cycle to minimize exposure to high temperatures. You can also add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. This will help set the color and prevent shrinkage.

If you accidentally shrink a cotton garment, you can try to stretch it back to its original size. soaked the shrunken garment in lukewarm water with mild detergent for about 15 minutes. Then, lay the garment on a flat surface and gently pull it in different directions until it reaches its original size or shape.