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Does Pima Cotton Shrink? (All You Need to Know)

Cotton is comfortable, naturally breathable, and durable. It is hands down of the best fabrics out there when it comes to clothing, be it leisure or fancy. However, like all other materials of clothing cotton also requires some careful maintenance.

Otherwise, the product will either shrink or stretch depending on how we use them. Pima cotton might be the premium variant of the material but it is also susceptible to these weaknesses too.

Because when weaving happens of this product, there comes tension in the cotton fibers. Agitation and heat during the washing cycle or wear relax the fibers and allow them to shrink and go back to their original state.

Let us go over the nuances of this Pima cotton and see the countermeasures and details about their shrinking problem below.

Does Pima cotton shrink?

Known for the comfort and ease of wear is the Pima cotton. Everyone can vouch for this fabric that it is one of the greatest source materials for making comfortable shirts. However, just like other cotton fabrics, the Pima cotton also tends to shrink if not properly washed. 

The cotton we usually wear or use in our day-to-day life comes from a hardier plant from the species Gossypium hirsutum. However, there is another variant of cotton that is made from a unique species of the cotton plant. This plant has the characteristics of extra-long staples.

Although the myth of higher thread count makes better quality is wrong, this cotton still is a cut above other cotton-made fabric out there.

When constructing fabric these unique long staples twist in silky strong yarns. These yarns are the main source from where these luxurious cotton fabrics are made from. Because the Pima cotton comes from the Gossypium barbadense species.

There are multiple uses of Pima cotton in the clothing industry and sheets as well. Here we list some of the well-known ones and go through them briefly while also asking if they shrink or not.

Peruvian Pima cotton:

This cotton is considered the world’s finest Pima cotton. It has softness like nothing else, exceptional sheen, and durability like no other. It can shrink the first time it is washed. 

50 percent Pima cotton:

A cheap alternative to the other ones, shrinks when washed but does not go down one side from the one you bought.

60 percent Pima cotton:

This will shrink regardless of being 60 percent Pima cotton. However, they do not shrink evenly and thus it is better to sew it in the size you want before washing it.

100 percent Pima cotton:

One of the highest quality pieces of clothing. This one is easily shrunk when washed with hot water. This is one of the ideal ways to shrink this material.

Pima cotton t-shirts:

Stronger, cooler, and softest t-shirts out there are made from Pima cotton. It will shrink when washed for the first time, but it will not be enough to matter.

Pima cotton sheets:

Having extra-long fibers in construction and structure comes the Pima cotton sheets. These have less wrinkling and piling as well as they are smoother than the usual ones. They will shrink when not washed properly.

Does Pima cotton shrink in the dryer?

Pima cotton has the tendency of shrinking if not properly washed. But there might be a reason for us to want to shrink it intentionally. In that case, washing the piece of clothing or sheet before drying will make it shrink.

Therefore, putting it in the dryer after washing will make it shrink and continue to shrink to an extent the longer you place it in the dryer. We need to run the dryer for five or ten minutes.

If we want to shrink the fabric any further repeating this drying cycle will keep shrinking it and thus it is a viable option to shrink and reach the desired fit. Also keep in mind that when washing the fabric, use hot water. 

If we use a washing machine then we need to set it to the highest temperature.

Two reasons why Pima cotton shrinks

Pima cotton shrinks due to the relaxation of the fibers that are stretched to create tension around them when making the products. We have to take particular steps in washing a particular Pima cotton product in order for it to not shrink.

Let us discuss the two major reasons, why these fabrics shrink.

Washing Machine:

To not let Pima cotton shrink, it is recommended to use the hand washing technique to clean our clothing or sheets as well as other Pima cotton material.

Since we normally do not opt for handwashing. We tend to use the washing machine for all our clothing and other fabric-related cleanings.

When the fabric is made it creates tension between the threads because of the stretching of the fibers. Due to the heat of the washing machine, that tension is lost, which ultimately causes the Pima cotton product to shrink.


The result of washing a Pima cotton mostly depends on the drying process. Whether we wash it by hands or washing machine, this part plays the more important role.

If we do not want the product to shrink then using a dryer is completely prohibited. Rather than that, we need to dry the Pima cotton product on a rack in direct sunlight.

Excessive friction and agitation as well as tumbling in the dryer will cause the product to shrink extensively, the heat is not our only problem in this case.

How much does Pima cotton shrink?

Most cotton can shrink due to losing the tension in its weave. However, it only applies the most for the 100 percent cotton-made fabrics out there.

Pima cotton can also shrink when not properly washed and even if they were pre-shrunk at the moment of purchase, they will still shrink a certain amount.

Nowadays most of the Pima cotton comes pre-shrunk. Check the manufacturing label for details. If so, then expect about a minimum of 2 percent and a maximum of 5 percent shrink after washing the first time.

If the product was not pre-shrunk then expect about 1 inch of fabric shrunk. Thus, we can say that the shrinking of the product depends on if the product was pre-shrunk or not. After the first wash expects no shrinking at all.

Does Pima cotton have stretch?

It is common knowledge that cotton does not have a natural stretch to them as other fabrics might have. Although this does not exclude them from the list of fabrics that stretch at all.

Cotton stretches over time. So does the premium Pima cotton. There is no expert answer as to how much they stretch. Furthermore, we have no way to make sure we provide the right amount of measurement for this particular topic either.

However, it is not uncommon for other kinds of cotton to stretch and it will not be enough stretch that you would need to shrink the fabric to retain its original state. Although the fact remains the same, that Pima cotton will stretch over time.

How to unshrink Pima cotton?

When using Pima cotton or other cotton products, even if we take a huge amount of care for the products there is still the possibility of them shrinking in size. That size could range from 2% to 5% of its original size.

Fortunately, there are ways where we can turn back the product to make it come as close as to its original state by following a few steps.

As a side note, if the process below seems to be too lengthy, we can opt to use a fan to speed up the drying of the product. Also, this process works for unshrinking any Pima cotton products, for example, the sheets or towels and other products.

Here’s how to unshrink Pima cotton in seven easy steps.

  • We need to take a clean bucket and fill it with lukewarm water.
  • In that lukewarm water we need to add two tablespoons of baby shampoo.
  • We add the clothing to the water we prepared after mixing well.
  • Then we proceed to soak the clothing of Pima cotton for at least 30 minutes.
  • After gently squeezing the extra water out of the products we drain the bucket.
  • We need to take a towel and gently stretch the clothing to reshape them to the correct size.
  • Every few hours we come back to the clothing and gently stretch it.

Final Thoughts 

Cotton is well desired among people that love comfortable clothing or bedsheets. Furthermore, when it comes to Pima cotton nothing beats its quality when compared to other cotton fabrics. However, it still has the weaknesses of traditional cotton and shrinks the first time we wash it.