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Why does cotton shrink?

Cotton fibers swell up when wet with water which in effect shortens the length of the fiber. The temperature of the water has no bearing. If the fiber is then dried quickly, the fiber permanently retains the swelled up and shortened attitude. If dried on low heat or no heat cotton will usually not shrink. This removes the water slowly and returns the fibers to their pre-wet size. Dry cleaning solvent evaporates quickly from cotton fibers allowing for a shrink free process. Most manufacturers preshrink cotton fabric prior to constructing garments. However, preshrunk garments may still shrink 2 to 3%. So if it is just right - get the next size.
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