What does ‘preshrunk’ mean?

One of the challenges we all face when choosing a shirt to wear is the sizing and fit. An important consideration in that decision is any potential shrinkage of the material. We have all bought logo embroidered shirts, washed and dried them only to have them shrink up to the point where we can’t wear them anymore. That can be very frustrating not be mention expensive.

In the not-so-distant past in fact, it was common place to buy a t-shirt or polo shirt that was a size too big knowing it would shrink down to a size that would fit. Thankfully, those days are long past. The good news is technology has caught up significantly with this problem.

One of those technological advances is the ability for manufacturers to “pre-shrink” material in order to address that issue. For many of the products on our website and the websites of others, you will see the term “pre-shrunk” used in the product description.

Fabric, either natural or synthetic, innately wants to shrink when washed. Pre-shrunk fabric is not washed and dried as the name may imply, but put through a machine that pushes the fibers tightly together, condensing the fabric by removing the space between the stitches. In essence, it replicates the shrinking process.

In theory, the practice seems ideal to eliminate sizing guess-work. However, If you understand the technical part, you know that pre-shrunk means they’ve taken most of the shrinkage out. But that can be misleading for some people. Pre-shrunk can imply that the garment will not shrink at all when it is washed.

That assumption is incorrect. Most every fabric will shrink, on average 3 to 7 percent depending on the type. Even if it says the fabric is preshrunk, there will still be some shrinkage when it is washed. However, shrinkage of 3 to 7 percent is not something most of us would even notice when it comes to fit.

So the bottom line is next time you see the word pre-shrunk or shrink resistant know that it means a majority of the shrinkage has been take out of the material. You will see that mostly in loose knit shirts like polo shirts that are made of 100% cotton. Therefore, you can be confident that you will not need to get a size larger to account for any shrinkage.

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