What is "Preshrunk" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 28-Mar-2023 (1 year, 25 days ago)
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In the textile industry, the term "Preshrunk" refers to a fabric that has undergone a special treatment to minimize or eliminate shrinkage during subsequent washes or laundering. Preshrinking is a process that involves subjecting the fabric to controlled shrinkage prior to its use in garment manufacturing or other textile applications. This treatment ensures that the fabric retains its intended size and shape, reducing the risk of garments becoming smaller or distorting after washing.

History and Origin

The concept of preshrinking fabric emerged as a response to the common issue of garments shrinking and losing their original fit and dimensions after the first wash. Historically, fabrics made from natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, were more prone to shrinkage due to their inherent properties. As a result, preshrinking became a necessary step in the textile production process to enhance garment quality and customer satisfaction.

In the early 20th century, advancements in textile technology and garment manufacturing techniques led to the development of preshrinking methods. The most widely used method involved washing the fabric at high temperatures, followed by mechanical stretching to counteract the shrinkage. Over time, the process evolved, and modern preshrinking methods now utilize various techniques, including heat treatments, steam treatments, and chemical treatments, depending on the fabric type and desired results.

Types of Preshrunk Fabrics

There are different types of preshrunk fabrics, depending on the specific treatment methods used. Some common types include:

  1. Sanforized: Sanforization is a widely recognized method for preshrinking cotton and other natural fiber fabrics. It involves a combination of mechanical and heat processes to reduce the fabric's potential for shrinkage. Sanforized fabrics are known for their stability and minimal post-laundering shrinkage.
  2. Combed Preshrunk: Combed preshrunk fabrics are treated with a preshrinking process after the fibers have been combed to remove impurities and align the fibers more uniformly. This treatment results in enhanced softness, strength, and dimensional stability in the fabric.
  3. Enzyme-Washed Preshrunk: Enzyme washing is a method that uses natural enzymes to break down the fibers' surface and provide a soft, worn-in feel to the fabric. Enzyme-washed preshrunk fabrics offer both preshrinking benefits and a desirable texture.

Tips for Handling Preshrunk Fabrics

When working with preshrunk fabrics, it is important to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Follow Care Instructions: Always read and adhere to the care instructions provided by the manufacturer to maintain the fabric's integrity and minimize shrinkage.
  • Cold Water Wash: Washing preshrunk fabrics in cold water helps prevent excessive shrinkage and color fading.
  • Avoid High Heat: When drying preshrunk fabrics, use low or medium heat settings to prevent potential shrinkage. Air drying is an even gentler option.
  • Handle with Care: Preshrunk fabrics can still be delicate, so handle them gently during sewing and avoid excessive pulling or stretching.

Top International Users and Manufacturers

Several top international brands prioritize the use of preshrunk fabrics in their garment manufacturing processes. Here are a few notable users and manufacturers:

  1. Levi's: Levi Strauss & Co., a renowned denim brand, utilizes preshrunk fabrics in their jeans manufacturing to ensure consistent fit and size retention for their customers.
  2. Gap: Gap Inc., a global apparel retailer, incorporates preshrunk fabrics in their clothing lines, focusing on providing high-quality garments that maintain their shape after washing.
  3. J.Crew: J.Crew, a popular American brand, employs preshrunk fabrics to deliver well-fitting and long-lasting apparel items to their customers.
  4. L.L.Bean: L.L.Bean, known for their outdoor and activewear, incorporates preshrunk fabrics in their garments, ensuring optimal fit and performance for their customers during outdoor activities.
  5. Patagonia: Patagonia, a renowned outdoor clothing brand, emphasizes the use of preshrunk fabrics to provide durable and functional apparel that maintains its shape and performance over time.
  6. Tommy Hilfiger: Tommy Hilfiger, a global fashion brand, incorporates preshrunk fabrics in their collections to deliver well-fitting and comfortable clothing to their customers.


Preshrunk fabrics play a crucial role in ensuring garment size and shape retention, reducing the risk of shrinkage after laundering. Through various treatment methods, such as sanforization and enzyme washing, preshrunk fabrics offer enhanced stability, softness, and dimensional stability. Following proper care instructions and handling techniques can help maintain the fabric's quality and minimize shrinkage. Prominent international brands like Levi's, Gap, and J.Crew recognize the importance of preshrunk fabrics, incorporating them into their manufacturing processes to deliver high-quality garments to their customers.

Preshrunk is a dry, permanent finish in which the fabric is washed in order to create a more stable fabric. Often this process allows the elasticity to become improved due to an increase in yarn crimp. After a fabric is preshrunk, there usually remains potential for additional or residual shrinkage.
Fabrics which have received a treatment, which causes shrinking. Often done on cottons before cutting the fabric in order to remove the tendency for shrinkage in the finished garment. The percent of residual shrinkage must be indicated on the label of the treated goods or garments.

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