Does Pima Cotton Shrink?

prevent pima cotton shrinking

There are always concerns with washing Egyptian and Pima cotton sheets. Cotton, while being rather durable, is also subject to shrinking. Many bed sheets and clothing materials shrink when put into the wash and it can be difficult to unshrink them. There are ways to avoid this and ways to unshrink your material, so never fear if you’re worried about your cotton garments and bedsheets shrinking.

Why does Pima Cotton shrink?

Whenever cotton is woven, these threads contain energy at a molecular level. The threads and wraps that are moved around will add stress to the threads and cause them to expand. When dried in heat, this tension is released and gives the cotton a chance to re-contract and clench back together over time.

pima cotton and egyptian cotton shrink

Is the dryer the main reason?

Absolutely not. Drying is certainly one of the bigger factors, but there are other dangers that can put your garments and bed sheets a size smaller than you remember. The washing machine can shrink your clothing as well. The heat in the water and being pushed around and the same stress can be applied to the material, causing it to contract and squeeze together. This applies to all natural fibers and most synthetic fibers. Even the more costly Egyptian cotton is not immune to shrinking.

How can you prevent it?

  • Cold Water

The first thing you can do to prevent your bed sheets or garments from shrinking is to wash your fabric in cold or lukewarm water. The coldness of the water will prevent the energy from being released from the threads in the fabric and leave them in their natural, stretched state. While cold or lukewarm water might not be ideal for some for fear of germs, it will clean them as well as any other.

  • Gentle Settings

When putting your clothes or Pima cotton bed sheets in the washer, be sure to set it on the lowest wash cycle that you can get. This means that “gentle” or “low speed” is optimal when using the washing machine. Always be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions, though. Don’t assume that your sheets are machine washable!

  • Air Dry

While a good choice in drying your clothes or sheets to begin with, air drying them in the open or outside will also prevent shrinking from the earlier washing. If the material has shrunk already, then the warmth and breeze will give it a bit more stretch like before, which is a viable way to make it unshrink.

egyptian cotton clean

How can you unshrink your Pima cotton?

There are multiple ways to reverse the shrinking of your garments or bed sheets. It’s rather simple and usually, involves some soap or other cleaning agents.

Shampoo or Conditioner

Baby shampoo is preferable, but any of these liquids can assist in making your clothes or bed sheets expand once more. The softness and chemical make-up of these cleaning agents will loosen and slick up the fibers of your material, making them unshrink and stretch back to their normal lengths.


Similarly to using it to soften better quality sheets like Pima or Egyptian cotton, vinegar can also be used to stretch and unshrink your bed sheets and garments. Mixing in about a cup of white vinegar in with your rinse cycle of your washed sheets will bring back the size that was taken from the garment.

Professional Cleaning

Finally, as said a few times within these articles, you can’t go wrong with professional cleaning services. They will handle your bed sheets or garments with the care that you pay them for, taking time to get them clean and prevent them from shrinking.