How do I prevent Shrinkage and Color Fade?

Question; I heard that if you wash clothes in hot water then you’ll end up shrinking the clothes. So I was wondering, if you say washing in hot water cleans them 8 times better than cold water. How do you wash clothes clean without having them shrink? Is it really the drying process that shrinks the clothes and not the washing? Also I heard washing in hot water fades color, so is there no one temperature to set it to help eliminate all these issues?

Ansewer; Great questions about shrinking and color fade.

What causes shrinkage and/or color fade is a combination of heat, moisture and agitation. If you remove one of these elements from the equation then you greatly reduce the amount of shrinkage. Now I didn’t say you will eliminate it, you will greatly reduce the amount of shrinkage and fading if. To totally eliminate shrinkage and/or color fade you need to eliminate two of the three elements from the equation. The closes you can come to that is hand wash in cold water and hang to dry.

The formula that I gave in the blog is for your ideal garments, a white preshrunk cotton or synthetic material item. If you had a black pair of  jeans you can not wash that in hot water with an extra long cycle and then put it in the dryer, the end result would be disastrous.

The first thing I teach a new trainee is to test each garment repeatedly until you can recognize the material and dye type and how they will react with out testing. I can not stress enough how important it is to test each garment and handle each piece according to how much shrinkage you can afford and how much color loss you see with the testing. From there you can decide the water temperature and time in dryer. You are correct there is not one temperature for all garments.

Not all garments need hot water with an extra wash cycle. If you clean garments on a regular basis the dirt is on the surface and not ground in, so light wash will remove that surface dirt. If you have stains than that is a different store, now you may need to pre-treat the stains before for you wash the garment. See the articles bellow for stain removal tips.

I hope this information is helpful.


Karl Huie

Pacific Heights Cleaners in San Francisco and Sausalito

is your resource for cleaning tips and garment care information.

A certified green dry cleaner by the Bay Area Green Business Program and the San Francisco Environment.

Your non toxic alternative serving you with an EPA approved Eco Dry Clean System that is safe for your health and environmentally friendly.

Other Articles of Interest:

What water temperature do I use for washing clothes? Hot-Cold or Warm?

Techniques Used For Stain Removal And Cleaning.

Stain Removal Products and Tips

How to Care for Your Dark Color Garments

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