Will It Shrink? Tips to avoid uniform shrinkage and fading

"Will it shrink?" It's one of the most common questions a parent will have when shopping for uniforms. After all, unlike regular clothes, uniforms are meant to be worn, washed, and worn again on a daily basis. Believe it or not, some items make it through the "hand-me-down" cycle for several decades!

If you want to get the most out of your school uniform purchase, it's important to understand the proper steps to keeping your student's uniform looking crisp and new, even beyond the last day of school. That's why we've put together a comprehensive guide with insider tips and tricks for uniform care.

Insider Tip: Shrink Factor can vary depending on how you wash and dry clothes. When in doubt, order a size up from what your child would normally wear, to allow room for growth as well as any possible garment shrinkage during the school year.

    Pay attention to cotton composition

    High cotton content is infamous for causing clothing to shrink, which is why most uniforms are made from a cotton/polyester or polyester/rayon blend. Even general clothing items that are labeled as "preshrunk" will shrink over time if there is any cotton component present. That's why it's important to take special care when laundering items such as sweatpants, sweatshirts, and t-shirts. The best way to wash items with a high cotton component is to turn the item inside-out, wash in cold water and hang to dry.


    Wash with like colors and fabrics

    Uniforms are designed to be worn day-in and day-out, but when it comes to laundering, you'll want to treat those plaids and polos with special care. Refrain from throwing a polo shirt in the wash alongside a towel or your favorite pair of jeans. Friction between unlike fabrics can alter their textures, and often creates the "fuzz" effect on soft items, which can cause a navy polo shirt to look faded.


    Understanding wash cycles & detergents

    Most washing machines and dryers have several cycle categories, and with so many options, it can be difficult to understand which one is best. It's possible to leave items too long in the washer or dryer, or wash items on a cycle that's too  abrasive. The permanent press on your washing machine is designed to thoroughly clean the fabrics, and washes at a gentle spin with cooler water to avoid damaging clothing. If you are particularly concerned about your machine's wash cycle, you can't go wrong washing regular items on a delicate cycle, as long as they're not covered in visible stains.

    On the same note, dryers can cause shrinkage and fading as a result of improper use. Depending on the fabric content, high temperatures will often cause clothes to shrink, which is why it's important to dry at a relatively low temperature. Of course hanging clothes to dry is ideal, but for most busy families, the hang-to-dry technique is time-consuming and inconvenient.

    Detergent misuse is also a common factor in fading and the overall appearance of fabrics. It's easy to "over-pour" instead of correctly measuring out detergent levels. In some cases this can literally strip dark fabrics of their color. If you find fading to be an issue, you'll find that following wash instructions and pouring conservative amounts of detergent will do the trick. When in doubt, spot clean aggressive stains and use less detergent.  Click here for more information about how to use detergent effectively. 

    Between school activities and sports, homework and extra-curriculars- it's already difficult to find time for laundry. But wish a little extra care and these simple tips, you can keep your student's uniforms looking fresher, longer!