The Curious Case of the Incredible Shrinking Washing


I’m sure I can’t be the only one amongst you who have put an item of clothing into the washing machine on its normal cycle only to find when you put it on next time that it appears slightly tighter than before and you know you haven’t put on weight?

It doesn’t help these days that washing labels are “not like the good old days” and they have all new fangled codes. That is if they aren’t written in Japanese, literally!

Now I will freely admit that I am the world’s most anal when it comes to my washing – and it all started when my mum shrunk my favourite T-shirt when I was a teenager. No one is allowed near the washing when wet, this includes opening the machine door before I get there, just in case it starts drying before I have a chance to make sure it’s the same size as when it went in and giving it a good stretch, to within an inch of its life, and don’t even talk about putting the washing in a tumble dryer because that is never going to happen.

OMG having re-read that I have an OCD about my washing. But am I really making a mountain out of a molehill? Or is there some truth in the fact that sometimes, your washing does shrink?

I’ll admit that one thing that does make freshly washed clothing feel slightly tighter is hard water. Don’t jeans feel like you’re putting on cardboard after washing sometimes, that won’t be the Calgon it’ll be the water?

But it’s not just my clothes – oh no! SC’s clothes appear to be exhibiting the same strange behaviour. There is one particular store that comes off worst, but since this is just my experiment I shall not be revealing the store’s name.

A couple of tops that I bought for SC started looking a bit shorter even after one wash. So next time I washed one of his tops I measured its length (15″) before I put it in the machine. I washed the said article on a 40 delicate cycle at 400 rpm spin (which is the lowest setting on my machine. After taking it out I performed the stretching exercise and when dried measured it again. And lo, it had shrunk a whole inch and measured 14″ in length.

Now I might have an OCD when it comes to washing but surely I have grounds when clothes lose inches on washing on the most delicate of cycles?

When I mentioned this fact in the shop concerned, they did in all fairness say I could take it back and they would exchange it, as they said it sounded as if the tops had been cut the wrong way on the material. That sounds feasible, BUT the issue with this particular top is that if mine does it, and I’ve noticed, how many others out there have done the same but haven’t been noticed. Quality control seems a bit lax.

Changing the subject slightly, but still on the topic of washing I was perplexed by the advert of a brand of washing liquid that boasted it will give a clean wash at 15 degrees. Great – do any washing machines actually wash at 15? The lowest mine goes to is 30!

So check your washing carefully – it may not be that extra slice of chocolate cake that has made your clothes feel smaller!

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