The Shrinking Bedding Problem

Shrinking Bedding

Shrinking bedding is just another hassle in the already tedious task of making your bed. We’re all tired of having to constantly replace perfectly good, often expensive bedding, as it’s just too small for our duvets. Shrinking bedding is irritating, but not an inevitability. Here are some simple steps to prevent shrinking throughout your laundry routine.

Why is my bedding shrinking?

Shrinking happens when the fabric weave gets tighter. All fabric is made of multiple threads all woven together, and incorrect washing can make the threads move closer. A higher thread count will minimise shrinking, as there is less space for the threads to move. This is one reason people prefer to buy higher thread count sheets. Bedlinens will usually take a few washes to fully shrink after being purchased, so the majority of the shrinking will be seen in the first 5 washes.


The first step on the road to fixing shrinking bedding is an obvious one, but still easy to overlook. You must treat bedding as gently as it needs to last, and the easiest way to ensure this? Always check the labels before washing! Most bedding should come with some kind of instructions to help keep it in good condition. This is because lots of fabrics need very different treatment. Even similar-feeling cotton blends can react very differently in different conditions.


We’ve come on leaps and bounds since the Industrial Revolution, so there is no need to boil your laundry like the Victorians did. Laundry doesn’t have to be washed at extreme temperatures to be clean – all you’re doing is damaging the fabric. Some people can be confused by this, as the theory is that you’re washing bedding on a hot wash to get rid of germs. However, that is why we now have such highly effective laundry detergents.

Over washing

Washing on too harsh a cycle can shrink bedlinens. So too can washing bedding for too long. You don’t just want to keep temperatures down, you should also use the delicate cycle whenever possible.


Don’t over-dry items! Find out how long it takes for the item to dry completely and do not dry it for any longer. This can take a couple of goes, or just making sure to check the time between the washing going out to dry and whenever it next feels dry. You could even use a marker to write this on the label – just so long as you don’t cover up any important laundry details!

Tumble drying

This is one of the big ones. Tumble drying may be quick, but it is probably the main culprit. You are best off drying things on the line, as this is the least damaging to the threads. If the in-laws are on their way to stay, and you really need to get the beds made, try and use your shortest, coolest settings when using a tumble dryer. Some machines even have a cool-down function you could try at the end of the cycle to help prevent heat induced shrinking. 

Sorting fabrics

When putting bedding in the dryer, try to keep like fabrics together. The type of fibres will change how long it takes for things to dry. Pairing items with similar wash and dry times helps make sure that no part of the load gets dried too much. Basically, don’t wash or dry towels with your bedding. The coarse towel fibres will not get on well with your soft sheets, and thick towels take much longer than thin bedding. (There’s also other reasons you should wash towels separately to just about everything during your laundry routine, but that’s a discussion for another day). 


It’s not always the washing – you also have to watch out for ironing distortion. This is where advocates of the pure cotton bedding can start to feel smug. Fabrics that contain polyester often shrink because they are being distorted by the ironing process. When poly-cotton sheets are ironed at temperatures above 165°C, the polyester starts to soften. When the iron is pulled across the fabric, the newly softened threads stretch in the direction of the movement. So you might think your bedding has shrunk in the wash, but it was actually the iron moving the threads around. This stretching effect will become more obvious after each time your bedding is ironed. The only real way to stop ironing distortion in polyester bedding is just to iron the fabric below 165C.

Now you have all the tips and tricks to keep your bedding the right size, why not treat yourself to a luxurious new bedding set like this Linen Bedtime Bundle in Deep Teal from Piglet?

Linen Bedtime Bundle - Deep Teal
By Eloise Brooks

Content Writer at myza

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