Why Do Woolens Shrink after Several Cleanings?

Alan Spielvogel |

Q: A number of customers are complaining that their woolens are shrinking after several cleanings. What can cause this?
A: “Progressive shrinkage” often takes place in garments that have been cleaned a number of times. Progressive shrinkage occurs when the fibers relax slightly each time the garment is cleaned. After several cleanings, dimensional changes in the garment become noticeable.
When customer complaints about shrinkage are isolated, the blame is likely the garments. Unfortunately, when a number of customers complain, the problem is probably related to your drycleaning system.
Soft woolens can be affected by excessive moisture (relative humidity) in the solvent, excessive mechanical action, or excessive solvent or drying (reclamation) temperatures.
Soft woolens should be cleaned in a short cycle or on a “fragile” program that reduces mechanical action. No moisture should be added. Knits should be cleaned inside out and placed in net bags to reduce abrasion.

About the author

Alan Spielvogel

National Cleaners Association (NCA)

Technical Director

Alan Spielvogel is technical director of the National Cleaners Association (NCA).


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