Does Washing at 60°C Shrink Clothes?

Lots of people worry that washing clothes at 60°C will shrink them. Whether or not you should wash clothes at this temperature depends on the fabric.

Washing at 60°C will not shrink every type of clothing, but may shrink items made of natural fibres such as cotton and wool. Natural fibres are much more likely to shrink than fibres such as polyester, due to being stretched more during the manufacturing process and then returning to their natural state when submerged in hot water.

It’s worth noting that it’s not just the washing temperature alone which shrinks clothes – the agitation of the fabric during the washing cycle also adds to shrinkage, so some clothes made of natural fibres such as wool  may also shrink on a lower temperature wash at 40°C.

To summarise, it’s generally fine to wash synthetic clothing at  60°C, but you should wash natural fibres like cotton and wool at a lower temperature. In general it’s best to err on the side of caution and wash clothing at 40°C, which is warm enough to clean clothing well as long as you use a good laundry detergent.


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