Does Cotton Shrink? Tapered Menswear

Does Cotton Shrink?

Have you ever wondered why your favourite cotton shirts seem to tighten around you with each wash?

Does cotton shrink? Cotton can shrink when exposed to heat from washing in hot water or drying in high temperatures, especially if it hasn't been pre-shrunk.

In this blog, you'll discover the mysterious phenomenon of cotton shrinking, unravel the shrinkage of cotton, and learn about the cotton shrink factor. I'll also show you the best fitting cotton shirts right here at Tapered Menswear.

best fitted cotton shirts by Tapered Menswear

Does 100% Cotton Always Shrink?

Fabricated from natural fibres, cotton shrinkage often occurs with heat and moisture exposure. 

Let's consider the process the cotton has undergone before it reached your wardrobe. Sanforized cotton is treated to minimise shrinkage, meaning that apparel crafted from this material offers greater resistance to change.

On the other hand, untreated, non-pre-shrunk cotton items might experience notable cotton shrinkage, specifically when subjected to high-temperature washing and drying conditions.

best fitted white cotton shirts by Tapered Menswear

To avert the risks of unwelcome cotton shrinkage and maintain the structural integrity and fit of your 100% cotton clothes, a bit of tender, loving care is necessary.

I'd advise laundering them in cold water; and avoid high heat when tumble drying. 

But we will go into this in much more detail later on!

How Much Does Cotton Shrink?

Cotton shrinkage varies depending on the type of cotton and its treatment. On average, untreated cotton can shrink by about 3% to 5% after the first wash. Pre-shrunk cotton, however, will experience minimal shrinkage, often less than 1%.

It's important to note that different cotton weaves and blends may shrink differently; for example, tightly woven fabrics may shrink less than loosely woven ones.

Does Cotton Shrink In Length Or Width?

In short, cotton shrinks in both length and width - they're not mutually exclusive.

The nature of cotton fibres means they are more inclined to contract not just in length but in width as well, resulting in an overall reduction of the fabric.

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This phenomenon occurs mainly due to the cotton's natural response to heat and moisture which affects the hydrogen bonds within the cellulose structure of the fibres.

The degree to which cotton shrinks is influenced by several factors such as the weave of the fabric, its quality, and any pre-purchase treatments it has undergone. 

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How Do You Keep 100% Cotton From Shrinking?

Making sure your cotton stays true to size after repeated washing requires a particular touch in care.

Always turn to washing in cold water—this simple technique reduces the risk of shrinkage significantly.

By doing so, you protect the integrity of the fibres and extend the lifespan of your cotton clothing.

100% cotton care not only revolves around the correct water temperature but also drying.

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High temperatures can spell disaster for cotton's weave, causing it to contract more than desired. You should refrain from exposing your items to high heat in the dryer.

Try to air dry where possible. But if you need to use the dryer - a good tip here is to remove your clothing from the dryer while they are still slightly damp, allowing them to air-dry naturally. 


best fitted cotton shirts that dont shrink by Tapered Menswear

Do Cotton Shirts Shrink Every Time You Wash or Dry It?

This is actually a common misconception that cotton shirts continually shrinks with each wash. In reality, the cotton shrink factor significantly decreases after the first time.

Typically, you might notice a 3-5% reduction in size after the initial wash, a number that can climb if the washing cotton garments are not conducted correctly. 

As mentioned stick with the warm and cold washes plus air drying to reduce any risk of shrinkage.  

Does Cotton Shrink At 40 Degrees?

It's a common question for anyone who prefers the comfort and quality of cotton attire: can you wash your cotton garments in warm water without fear of them shrinking?

The answer hinges on understanding how cotton responds to different washing temperatures.

At 40 degrees Celsius, a temperature that's typically regarded as 'warm' in washing machines, you might expect the risk of cotton shrinking to be moderate.

Nonetheless, this temperature does not guarantee to shrink cotton garments.

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While hot water is a known culprit in causing cotton to contract, 40 degrees Celsius is often a safe threshold, provided you adhere to the care labels.

It's important to remember, though, that to most effectively guard against any cotton shrinking, opting for a cold water cycle is usually the best choice.

Following these guidelines not only helps in maintaining the size and shape but also in extending the lifespan of your premium cotton pieces from brands like Tapered.

Does Cotton Shrink in Cold Water?

Cotton's tendency to shrink is significantly reduced when washed in cold water. While hot water can cause the fibers to contract and lead to noticeable shrinkage, cold water only minimizes this effect.

Even in cold water, there might be slight shrinkage, especially if the cotton is not pre-shrunk.

best fitted white cotton shirts by Tapered Menswear

Will Pre-Shrunk Cotton Still Shrink?

Pre-shrunk cotton is designed to minimize shrinkage, but it can still shrink slightly. Typically, pre-shrunk cotton garments may shrink an additional 1-2% after repeated washing and drying, particularly if exposed to high heat.

Does Cotton Shrink In The Tumble Dryer?

When you're laundering your cotton garments, particularly those cherished Tapered cotton shirts, handling the drying process is as crucial as the wash itself.

A common question that arises is about the relationship between cotton shrink in dryer machines and how to achieve gentle drying of cotton.

As cotton is susceptible to the high heat of a tumble dryer, it's important to navigate this final stage of laundering with care.

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Does Cotton Shrink In The Sun

Besides mechanical drying, the natural method of leaving cotton to dry under the sun's rays is another matter of concern for your garments' longevity and appearance.

It's not just the heat of the dryer that poses a risk; the intense heat from the sun can also lead to shrinking as well as fading.

To safeguard the size and vibrancy of your articles, opt for air-drying in shaded areas where your cotton items can benefit from the air without the harshness of direct sunlight.

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Following these guidelines will help ensure that your cotton attire remains impeccable, wear after wear.

Can You Unshrink Cotton?

Thankfully, unshrinking cotton is possible, although it's not guaranteed for every garment. If you find yourself with a shrunken garment, lukewarm water and hair conditioner might be your saviours.

This combination works wonders, softening and expanding the fibres, making it easier for you to gently stretch the fabric back to its original shape.

There's also the option of steaming and careful ironing to encourage the fibres to relax. The gentle heat and moisture from the steam can incrementally lengthen the shortened fibres.

While we at Tapered Menswear construct our cotton shirts to resist excessive shrinking, proper cotton garment care is still crucial.

white tapered fit shirt by Tapered Menswear, showcasing the muscle fit design for a comfortable and stylish silhouette


In some cases, professional tailoring or dry-cleaning services could be called for, especially for those valuable cotton pieces in your wardrobe that need extra attention.

Rescuing your clothing from shrinkage requires patience and the right techniques, ensuring your cotton stays comfortable and well-fitted for longer.

Should I Size Up For 100% Cotton?

It's a common predicament; you want your new cotton clothes to retain their shape and comfort, without running the gauntlet of shrinking them through inevitable washes.

If the garment in question has been pre-shrunk, a feature often highlighted by conscientious brands like Tapered Menswear, your usual size should fit the bill perfectly, tailored to accommodate the minimal shrinkage that comes with carefully crafted clothing.

Our shirts are pre shrunk at manufacturing level so there is no additional shrinkage through washing - follow the care labels of course!

Best Fitting Cotton Shirts - Tapered Menswear

Now you know everything there is to know about cotton shrinking. Worry less about cotton shrinking with our perfectly fitted shirts.

With a laser focus on the art of the perfect fit, our premium quality cotton shirts are painstakingly designed with high-calibre cotton, ensuring durability and resilience against the typical woes of shrinkage.

All of our fully fitted cotton shirts are expertly cut close to the body. Arms are closely fitted in the biceps at an optimal length to flatter the bicep peak. While the cut of our shirts also sit snug on the shoulders and chest.

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Our v-tapered shape cut equally helps to reduce the amount of material around the midsection to give you your guaranteed dream shape.

Meaning, no more annoying material where you really don’t want it. We believe that we have solved an age-old problem that many men with bigger builds have faced.

Whether a casual T-shirt or a formal dress shirt, our sophisticated  range gives you the bespoke treatment, without the middleman or the hefty price-tag. Made for you, you will find that our shirts give you everything you need to succeed at style.

best fitting clothing for men by tapered menswear

White Tapered Fit Shirt

Not only that, they’re also completely comfortable. Made from 100% cotton, that moulds effortlessly to your shape, you can work and play in our shirts and expect comfort all day long.

We have also recently added the classic Henley shirt to our range for even more choice. Why not give Tapered Menswear a chance. No more ill-fitting shirts. No more money spent on a tailor.

Available in both long sleeve and short sleeve muscle fit shirts.

Check out Tapered Menswear today and see for yourself.

Our revolutionary cut provides a 10" drop from chest to waist.

Fully fitted in chest and shoulders whilst tapering sharply down, giving a tailored look. No more bagginess in the waist.

Enhanced Darts

Expertly tailored darts at the back, for the perfect fit.

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Stretch Cotton

Super soft, breathable and allows complete freedom of movement.