Can You Tumble Dry A Cotton Shirt? (will it shrink or is it ok)

The answer to this depends on how much cotton the shirt is made from. 100% cotton shirts should never be tumble dried because they will shrink.

Blended cotton should be OK to dry in the tumble dryer on a low heat setting. This is the reason why we always recommend checking the care label. The care label will give you specific washing and drying instructions on that particular garment.

Even cotton blends can shrink if they’re subjected to too much heat for too long. Even if the care label indicates that it’s OK to tumble dry a blended cotton shirt, it should be removed from the dryer immediately that it finishes and hung up to help prevent shrinking.

We recommend removing cotton blends from the tumble dryer before they are fully dry. This will definitely help to prevent shrinking. It should then be ironed to remove the remaining moisture. 

Again, check the care label first because there’s always the possibility the shirt can’t be ironed. The symbol for do not iron is a picture of an iron with a cross over it.

What The Tumble Dryer Symbols Mean On A Cotton Shirt

Tumble Dryer Symbols On Clothes
  • Square With White Circle And A Black X On Top – This symbol indicates that the shirt cannot be tumble dried. This is the symbol you’re likely to find on a 100% cotton shirt.
  • Square With White Circle – This symbol means the item can be tumble dried and you’ll probably find this symbol on shirts made from cotton blends.
  • Square With White Circle, One Black Dot In Circle – This is the symbol that indicates the item can be dried in a tumble dryer on a low heat setting. This will usually be found on blended cotton shirts.
  • Square With White Circle, Two Black Dots In Circle – this symbol indicates that the garment can be dried in a tumble dryer using a medium heat setting.
  • Square With White Circle, Three Black Dots In Circle – This symbol indicates the item can be tumble dried on a high heat setting. It is unlikely you will find this symbol on cotton shirts.
  • Square With Black Circle – This symbol indicates the item can be dried in a tumble dryer using no heat.

How To Dry A Cotton Shirt Without A Tumble Dryer

If you don’t have a tumble dryer, or your cotton shirt’s care label indicates do not tumble dry, you’ll need to find an alternative way to dry it.

Below we have listed several ways to dry cotton shirts without tumble drying. These are;

Air Drying On An Airer

Using an airer and laying your cotton shirts out flat is the recommended way to dry them. This can be done indoors or out in the fresh air (weather permitting) in indirect sunlight.

If you intend to use an airer indoors it should be placed in a well ventilated room (open a window to allow air to circulate). If cotton dries too fast it is likely to shrink which is why we don’t recommend using any heat when air drying cotton shirts.

Using A Dehumidifier To Lower Drying Times Indoors

Dehumidifiers help to remove excess moisture from the air. The dehumidifier should be placed in the room where the cotton shirts are drying.

As the shirt exudes moisture into the air, the dehumidifier removes that moist air which speeds up the drying time.

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Using An Electric Fan To Speed Up Drying Times

Placing an electric fan in the room with the cotton shirt will simulate a gentle breeze which can speed up drying times.

You should always open a window to allow the air to circulate freely when using a fan to dry cotton shirts.

SEE ALSO: The Top Bladeless Fans On The Market Today

Air Drying Your Cotton Shirts On A Clothesline

You can air dry your cotton shirts on a clothesline, rotary line or retractable clothesline.

Cotton shirts should be hung on hangers and the hangers suspended on the washing line or the shirts can be hung to the line using pegs.

If you have limited space indoors or out, a retractable clothesline could be the answer. These can be extended from one wall to another when needed and then retracted into the wall mounted box when not in use.

SEE ALSO: Our Recommended Retractable Clotheslines

What Happens If You Tumble Dry A Cotton Shirt

Always check the wash care labels

The Cotton Shirt Will Shrink

If the shirt is made from 100% cotton it is a definite possibility that it will shrink. However, even many cotton blends will also shrink if subjected to too much heat. Or even allowed to over dry in a tumble dryer.

The Cotton Shirt Will Stretch

Subjecting cotton shirts to the heat and rough treatment of a tumble dryer could cause the fabric to stretch in width as it shrinks in length. 

This will give you a cotton shirt which is too short and far too wide to wear.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you dry 100% cotton shirts without shrinking them?

The best way to ensure that 100% cotton shirts dry without shrinking is to dry them flat on an airer in indirect sunlight.

Is it safe to put a cotton shirt in a tumble dryer?

It is generally safe to put a cotton shirt in a tumble dryer on a low heat setting unless it is 100% cotton which should never be tumble dried. You should always check the care label before tumble drying any cotton shirt.

How can I dry a cotton shirt without a tumble dryer?

Cotton shirts can be dried on an airer, on a clothesline, rotary line or retractable clothes line. Using a dehumidifier indoors will speed up drying times considerably.

Can you tumble dry 100% cotton clothes?

It is not recommended to tumble dry 100% cotton clothes as they are likely to shrink in a tumble dryer.

Can all cotton be tumble dried?

Many cotton items can be tumble dried but you should always consult the care label as some cotton items, including 100% cotton, should never be tumble dried.

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