Does Pre-shrunk Cotton Shrink? [How To Maintain Its Texture]

Pre-shrunk cotton is available in different weights and styles, including denim and flannel, but does it shrink? The simple answer is yes. And this guide explains why and how.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about pre-shrunk cotton.

What is pre-shrunk cotton?

Pre-shrunk cotton is a type of fabric that has undergone a pre-shrinking process to reduce its overall shrinkage. 

This treatment is typically used on garments made from 100% cotton fabric, as it helps to keep the shape and size of the garment more consistent after washing. 

Pre-shrunk cotton can also be found in blends with other fabrics, such as polyester, although the shrinkage-reducing properties will not be as effective in these cases. 

The reason is that the other fabric fibers in the blend can still absorb water and shrink, even if the cotton fibers do not. 

Overall, pre-shrunk cotton is a more durable and long-lasting fabric option that helps minimize shrinking and preserve the garment’s shape.

Does pre-shrunk cotton shrink?

does pre-shrunk cotton shrink

Yes, it does. 

Pre-shrunk cotton is still 100% cotton, made of natural fibers, so it is subject to shrinkage. Luckily, you can minimize shrinkage by following the care instructions on your garment.

SEE: Does Cotton Shrink When Washed In Cold Water?

Why does pre-shrunk cotton shrink?

There are a few reasons for this, and I’ll highlight and explain them below:

The material

Pre-shrunk cotton is likely to shrink because it’s made mainly from cotton. As we all know, cotton is a natural fiber highly susceptible to shrinkage.

That is because the fibers in cotton are very absorbent. They can absorb up to 27 times their weight in water.

When these fibers are exposed to heat (like when you wash and dry your clothes), they’ll contract and cause the fabric to shrink.

The weave

The way the fabric is woven can also affect its shrinkage. For example, a tightly woven fabric will generally shrink less than a loosely woven one. 

That’s because the tighter the weave, the less space there is for the fibers to move around and contract.

The quality

Lower-quality cotton is more likely to shrink than higher-quality cotton. 

This is because lower-quality cotton is usually made from shorter fibers with a low uniformity index and is less tightly spun, making them susceptible to shrinking than longer, more tightly spun fibers.

So, there you have it.

SEE: Washing Whites With Colors Guide

How to prevent pre-shrunk cotton from shrinking

Follow these tips to prevent pre-shrunk cotton from shrinking:

Wash in cold water: Hot water can cause the fabric to shrink, so use cold water when washing pre-shrunk cotton items.

Avoid using hot dryers: Just like hot water, hot dryers can cause pre-shrunk cotton to shrink. If you must use a dryer, tumble dry on low or no heat.

Don’t over-dry pre-shrunk cotton: Over-drying pre-shrunk cotton can also cause it to shrink. Always remove items from the dryer while they’re still damp to avoid shrinking.

Iron pre-shrunk cotton on low heat: When ironing pre-shrunk cotton, it’s better to use a low heat setting. The reason is that high heat can cause the fabric to shrink.

Hang pre-shrunk cotton to dry: Hanging pre-shrunk cotton items to dry is a great way to prevent them from shrinking. If you don’t have a clothesline, you can lay the items on a flat surface to dry.

Handwash where possible: When handwashing, use cool water and a mild detergent. Avoid twisting or wringing the fabric. Instead, gently squeeze the water out of the item. Lay it flat to dry afterward.

Are all cotton pre-shrunk?

No, not all.

To identify pre-shrunk cotton, check the label of your cloth. If you’re buying the product online, you can check the product description for more details on whether it’s pre-shrunk or not.

Are pre-shrunk cotton better than normal cotton?

Yes, they are.

First, pre-shrunk cotton has been treated to resist shrinking when it is washed. This means your clothes will maintain their size and shape better over time.

Also, pre-shrunk cotton is often more durable and less likely to fade.


Can you unshrink pre-shrunk cotton?

No, you can’t.

Once the cotton is shrunk, the fibers are permanently shortened. The only way to “unshrink” it is to stretch it back out again, which usually results in a misshapen garment. 

If you’re lucky, you might be able to get away with washing your shrunken item in warm water and then carefully stretching it back into shape while it’s still wet. 

Otherwise, you’ll just have to accept that your shirt or pants are now a few inches shorter than they used to be.

Can you shrink pre-shrunk jeans?

Yes, you can, but it is not recommended.

If you must shrink your jeans, wash them in hot water and dry them on high heat. This method will likely cause some fading and may shrink the jeans more than you intended, so tread carefully.

What does pre-shrunk cotton feel like?

Pre-shrunk cotton feels like any other type of cotton fabric; it is soft and comfortable to wear.

SEE: Lookout for These Things When You Buy Perfume for Women


Pre-shrunk cotton does shrink. However, it is not as likely to shrink as non-pre-shrunk cotton. The reason is that pre-shrunk cotton has already gone through a shrinking process during its manufacturing phase. 

If you want to avoid shrinking altogether, it is best to go with 100% polyester or another type of fabric.

Thanks for reading.

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