Does Lyocell Shrink When Washed And Dried?

Lyocell, a natural cellulose fiber made from wood pulp, is the world’s most widely used cellulose fiber in textiles and other products.

It has been gaining popularity for its softness, strength, moisture absorbency, and other qualities. 

As an added benefit, Lyocell fibers are biodegradable and recyclable. They can also be recycled into new products such as paper and cardboard.

However, as Lyocell is a natural fiber, it does need some extra care to make sure it doesn’t shrink.

We put together a handy guide on how to wash and dry Lyocell garments so they don’t shrink and you can enjoy them for many years to come.

Does Lyocell Shrink When Washed And Dried (1)

What’s Lyocell?

Lyocell is a cellulose fiber made from wood pulp that has been treated with an alkali to make it more hydrophilic and therefore less prone to shrinkage when wetted, such as by water or other liquids.

Lyocell tends to have better breathability than cotton, which makes it ideal for summer clothing and sportswear.

Similar to the natural cotton fiber, Lyocell is also hypoallergenic and hypo-polarized which means that it doesn’t cling to the skin.

Lyocell was originally sold under the Tencel trademark in the 1970s, and it’s still used today to make clothes.

Lyocell is a rayon fabric, which means that it is manufactured by blending sustainably grown wood pulp with chemicals and solvents.

Manufacturers usually use trees such as oak, birch, bamboo, and eucalyptus for the main wood pulp.

Once the wood pulp has fully dissolved in the mix of chemicals, it’s pushed through small holes. This creates thin, long fibers.

These fibers are turned into thread and create the fabric we know today as Lyocell.

As you can see, the production process of Lyocell is laborious and technical but it can also be made fully sustainable.

The fact that it’s mostly made from sustainable wood sources is not just an environmentally friendly solution but it also makes your garments softer and more comfortable to wear.

Do Lyocell Clothes Shrink?

Yes, Lyocell clothes do shrink even after only a few washes. However, if you care for this type of clothing well, it will maintain its shape well over time.

It’s important to check the washing and drying label to ensure that your Lyocell garments are cared for in the right way. 

If you don’t check these instructions, your clothes may shrink significantly.

One of the reasons why Lyocell is so popular is that it does feel softer with each wash. This makes it ideal for clothing, such as underpants and lingerie.

How Much Do Lyocell Clothes Shrink?

Similar to cotton, Lyocell is a semi-natural fiber that shrinks if not cared for correctly. In the first few washes, delicate Lyocell garments can shrink up to 5%.

Luckily, the risk of shrinkage of this type of fabric decreases with each wash, so the more you wash it, the more Lyocell will hold its shape.

In addition, certain types of Lyocell garments, such as underwear, are more likely to shrink than others. This is because they’re often made also with other thinner fabrics, which are more susceptible to shrinking.

With the initially high risk of shrinkage, you must read your clothes’ cleaning label, and check how to wash it correctly.

If you don’t follow the label’s instructions, your Lyocell clothes could shrink. In addition, this could even affect the quality which means that after a while your clothes will rip or tear.

Can Lyocell Shrink In The Washing Machine?

Even with the right care, Lyocell can shrink significantly after the first wash. This shrinkage can be as much as 5% which is a lot, particularly for smaller garments such as underwear.

However, the good news is that Lyocell will retain its shape after the first couple of washes and it’s a lot less likely to shrink once it survives the first wash.

One big factor that plays a significant role in whether your Lyocell item will shrink or not is the water temperature.

Washing Lyocell In Hot Water

When washing Lyocell in hot water (40°C), the risk of shrinkage increases significantly. It’s recommended that you wash your Lyocell items in cold water at 30°C.

This is because when washing Lyocell in warm water, it tends to shrink. If you wash your Lyocell garment in hot water, it will shrink by 10-15%, which is quite a lot.

This is especially true for larger garments like bras and tights. 

If you are not trying to shrink your Lyocell clothes intentionally to make them a better fit, it’s best to avoid using hot water for this type of clothing.

Generally, most fabrics made with natural fibers shouldn’t be washed in hot water. This applies to washes in a washing machine or a hand wash.

In addition to the higher risk of shrinkage, washing Lyocell in hot water can damage these delicate fabrics. 

After a few washes of Lyocell fabrics in hot water, you’ll notice that it’s not as soft anymore. 

Washing Lyocell In Cold Water

Lyocell doesn’t have any issues being washed in cold water. It’s best to use cold water for all your Lyocell garments.

The reason for this is that Lyocell tends to dry out faster than cotton. So, if you wash your Lyocel clothes in warm water, they may get too wet.

As a result, they won’t dry properly and they may shrink further.

Saying this, Lyocell will shrink initially in the first wash, regardless of whether you use hot or cold water. 

You can wash your Lyocell fabrics in a washing machine or by hand in cold water. This is the best way for regular washes of these garments.

However, it’s still important to stick to the instructions on your clothes’ washing label. This will indicate the correct washing temperature.

Can Lyocell Clothes Shrink In The Dryer?

Delicate Lyocell fabrics are very sensitive to hot temperatures. That’s why it’s essential to avoid any kind of heat near this type of fiber.

For example, you should never put Lyocell’s clothes into the dryer. This can cause the fabric to shrink significantly.

In addition to the hot temperatures, placing your Lyocell clothes into the dryer means that they will rub against the inside of the dryer and other clothes.

This will agitate the fibers and shrink them further.

It’s also possible that the shrinking process will continue until the fabric becomes brittle. As a result, your Lyocell item could become unusable.

So, don’t try to dry your Lyocell clothes in the dryer. The best way to dry your Lyocell clothing is to allow it to air dry.

Best Way Of How To Wash And Dry Lyocell

Does Lyocell Shrink When Washed And Dried

Although Lyocell is a natural fiber, it’s still machine-made. Like all these fibers, Lyocell needs special care.

That’s why we suggest that you follow the washing instructions on the label of your Lyocell garment carefully.

Generally, there are a few things you can look out for when washing and drying Lyocell. We have listed some of the most important below.

Handwashing Your Lyocell Garments

We recommend that you wash your Lyocell items by hand.

This is because the fibers of Lyocell tend to get tangled easily. They’re also more prone to wrinkling.

When washing your Lyocell clothes by hand, you’ll need to add a little soap to the water. You can use liquid soap or even powder detergent.

There is no specific ratio of detergent to the water. However, it’s best to use a gentle detergent.

Adding a little bit of detergent helps to dissolve the dirt from the fabric. It also prevents the fibers from getting tangled together.

Alternatively, if you want to remove stains from your Lyocell items, you can use white vinegar instead of detergent.

Adding a little bit of vinegar will help to loosen the stain and make it easier to remove.

Handwashing is a very gentle process for delicate garments and it ensures your Lyocell clothes will last for longer.

A big bonus of washing your clothes by hand is that you save on electricity and water. Over time, this can result in some serious cost savings.

When you are handwashing your Lyocell clothing, you need to use cold water. Soak your clothes in the water for half an hour and then rinse them.

It’s important to just press the clothes to remove any of the excess water. This will prevent wrinkles in the fabric.

Use A Gentle Wash Cycle

If you want to ensure your Lyocell clothes stay soft and wrinkle-free when you wash them in your washing machine, then you should use a gentler cycle.

You should choose a gentle wash cycle that does not exceed 30 minutes and has a low-temperature setting.

However, be careful to only machine wash your garments when you have a strong stain. Machine washing your Lyocell fabrics too often may end up damaging the fibers of your Lyocell clothes.

Hand Rinse After Each Wash

After each wash, you should give your Lyocell clothes a good shake. This will remove any residual moisture from the surface of the fabric.

Avoid wringing out any excess water from the fabric. This could cause unsightly wrinkles.

You should also ensure that you don’t twist or squeeze it too much as this can damage the fibers after several washes.

Wrinkles in Lyocell garments can be difficult to get out, so it’s best to prevent them.

Air Drying Your Lyocell Clothes

Lyocell garments can take a long time to dry. However, it’s still best to air dry your Lyocell clothes rather than using a tumble dryer.

Dryers heat the fabric which can damage the fibers and shrink the garments.

Dryers also increase the amount of static cling in your Lyocell garment. This means they can attract dust particles and other contaminants.

The best way to avoid these problems is to simply hang your Lyocell clothes outside. This also saves you electricity and it makes your clothes smell fresher.

If you are in a hurry and you need to use the dryer to dry your Lyocell clothes, then you must dry them on a low heat setting. 

The heat used during drying affects the lifespan of your Lyocell clothing. When using high temperatures, the fibers of your Lyocell garment may break down.

As a result, your Lyocell clothes will lose their shape and feel stiff and rough.

Iron Your Lyocell Clothes On Low Heat Setting

Iron is a great tool to keep your Lyocell clothing looking its best without wrinkles. However, you will need to use a very low heat setting.

This will allow the iron to move smoothly over the fabric without causing any damage.

Steam irons are designed to create steam to help you iron your Lyocell clothing quickly. But, this can cause damage to the fibers of your Lyocell clothing.

So you mustn’t use the steam setting on your iron.

As a rule of thumb, if you want to remove wrinkles and creases from your Lyocell item, then ironing on low heat is a good option.

But it’s best to avoid ironing Lyocell garments frequently. The less heat this type of clothes are exposed to, the longer they will last.

How To Care For Your Lyocell Fabrics

Your Lyocell clothing needs special care because it’s made with natural materials.

You can follow the simple guidelines below to make sure your Lyocell items look their best for years to come.

Washing Lyocell

The best way to wash this delicate fabric is by hand. If you are in a hurry and you need to put it into the washing machine, then you must use a delicate washing cycle.

For both, it’s essential to wash these clothes with cold water as well as a gentle detergent to get any stains off.

Whether you are washing your Lyocell fabrics by hand or in your washing machine, it’s good to soak the fabric in cold water for 60 minutes before you allow it to dry. 

This will ensure that the fabric stays soft and smooth for a long time.

Drying Lyocell

It’s best to let your Lyocell garments air dry. They should ideally not be placed inside the dryer.

If you do choose to place them inside the dryer, then it’s important to set the temperature at no more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

This will prevent any damage to the fibers of the Lyocell material.

While Lyocell can withstand a gentle drying cycle, it should not be placed in the dryer too often as this can damage the quality of the fabric over time

It’s also best not to iron your Lyocell too often. As mentioned above, iron can cause damage to the fibers.

So while you can iron your Lyocell items occasionally, it’s recommended that you only iron them when necessary.

Storing Lyocell Clothes

To store your Lyocell clothes properly, you can place them either in storage bags or simply hang them up.

Make sure that they are protected from moths and other insects.

Lyocell is a durable fiber but it does fade over time. So if you have been storing your Lyocell clothes for some time, they may go stiff and lose their softness.

To restore the soft feeling of your Lyocell clothes, you can just put them in the washing machine with a damp towel. Use the gentle washing cycle on the lowest heat setting.

This will make your Lyocell feel like new.

The Best Way To Shrink Lyocell

Shrinking Lyocell is a process where the fibers of the fabric shrink. This causes the garment to become smaller and tighter.

As we mentioned already, Tencel Lyocell garments can shrink but they shrink only by a maximum of 5% with the first wash.

However, there are other ways to shrink this type of fabric.

We already spoke about heat being Lyocell’s enemy. In this case, we can use it to our advantage.

If you soak the Lyocell clothes that you want to shrink in cold water, and then put it into the washer-dryer at a hot temperature, then you will find that your garment has shrunk more.

After the washing cycle, you can either put it into the dryer, or you can hang it up to air dry. It’s up to you which method you prefer.

Alternatively, you can also try putting the Lyocell clothing into the freezer overnight.

Then you can take it out and put it back into the washer-dryer. The freezing process makes the fibers contract so much that they will shrink even further.

Bear in mind that the shrinking process cannot be easily controlled and you will have to check carefully how much you want the item to shrink.

It’s better to buy a smaller size than to forcefully shrink your Lyocell fabrics this way as the strong heat and harsh washing cycles will also damage the fabric’s structure.

This will make it more brittle and could result in rips and tears.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lyocell is a delicate garment that needs some special care to ensure that it lasts longer. Here are some questions we have received about Lyocell.

Is Lyocell Fabric Better Than Cotton?

Yes! Lyocell is softer, lighter, and sometimes even warmer than cotton. Both are natural materials that can be manufactured sustainably.

Cotton has the great advantage that it adapts well to the body shape, and it’s much more resilient than the delicate Lyocell fabric.

How Long Does Lyocell Take To Dry?

Lyocell takes less time to dry compared to most other materials. For example, polyester takes at least 2 hours to fully dry.

On the other hand, Lyocell takes about 20 minutes to dry due to its unique properties.

Can I Wash Lyocell Clothing Inside Out?

Yes, you can wash your Lyocell items inside out. However, you should avoid using high temperatures when doing so.

You can place the items into the washing machine and use a gentle cycle.

Does Tencel Shrink In The Dryer?

Yes, Tencel does shrink in the dryer when put on a hot temperature.

So, if you do decide to dry your Tencel clothing, please remember to set the drying cycle to low heat and a short duration.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Lyocell?

The main disadvantage of Lyocell is that it’s very delicate and it needs to be treated with extra care.

Unlike cotton, Lyocell is not very elastic and tends to cling to the body. Also, Lyocell fiber is not particularly breathable, so it’s not suitable for sportswear.

Is Modal The Same As Lyocell?

No, modal is made from cellulose acetate which is a synthetic material. Modal is an inexpensive fabric but it doesn’t perform like Lyocell because of its poor moisture absorption.

Also, modal doesn’t feel as nice against the skin as Lyocell. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a durable yet soft fabric, then Lyocell may be exactly what you need.

As long as you treat your Lyocell garments with care, they’ll last for years without fading or losing their original color.

Amanda Brown

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