How to Avoid a T-Shirt Shrinking

Picture your favorite shirt, or a shirt you had specially designed for your brand, favorite band, or an upcoming event. You wear it for the first time and it fits perfect. Imagine you go to wash and dry it, you put it back on and the dreaded feeling floods over you. It shrunk.

We’ve all been there and left wondering whether to wear a much too tight shirt or purchase or print a new size. 

That isn’t always the case, there are ways to avoid a t-shirt shrinking, even if it’s made out of cotton.



Washing is just as critical as drying to avoid your t-shirt from shrinking. Most often, shirts will come with a “cheat code” on the tag to tell you how a shirt should be washed and dried. If the shirt does include this on the tag, revert to washing the garment in cold water. Cotton especially is very sensitive to heat, this is due to the tension applied to fabric when the shirt is constructed. The tension is then released when heat is applied to the shirt via washing, drying and even in the sunlight. These factors are what

cause the shirt to shrink. When washing with cold water, consider buying laundry detergent made specifically for cold water to make sure your garments come out just as clean.



Time and again, it’s been known drying is one of the most critical factors in avoiding t-shirt shrinkage. Avoiding the dryer entirely is the best route for you shirt if possible. Letting your shirt air dry will eliminate any damage caused by the dryer, which would make the shirt shrink. Try and avoid direct sunlight when garments are air drying. Consider investing in a drying rack to avoid the trouble of finding somewhere for garments to dry.

If you don’t have the ability to let your shirts air dry, be meticulous with the dryer. Always dry your t-shirts on the lowest heat setting. If you are in a rush, dry for a short period on low and hang dry for the remainder.



Even if you wash your shirts on cold and air dry them, if you iron your t-shirt it could cause it to shrink. Instead of using an iron, get a de-wrinkle spray to avoid any heat damage.



If you have a say in the style and type of shirt your design is being printed on, go with “pre-shrunk”. With pre-shrunk shirts, they are washed ahead of time and then sized according to the fit after they are “shrunk”. This way you avoid any stress and worry about your t-shirt shrinking.


These tips will help eliminate the next time you go to wash your favorite t-shirt and can’t wear it any more because it shrunk. For any questions or to inquire with us about pre-shrunk shirts or shirt materials that do not shrink, contact us. Feel free to browse our catalog to get an idea of the next material your design will be on.


Laundry Cheat Sheet

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