MadSci Network: Other

Re: Why do clothes shrink in the dryer?

Area: Other
Posted By: Graham Lampard, Grad student Leather Technology, British School of Leather Technology
Date: Tue Feb 4 11:49:38 1997

Why do clothes shrink in the dryer? Usually because you have heated the clothes to a temperature greater than the fibres of the material can stand. With leather clothes, the fibres are made up of the protein, collagen. The collagen is then stabilised with metal salts. However, this stability is temperature dependent. If you put leather into a washer at 100 C, it will shrink because the collagen fibres unravel. The process is similar to that when you burn yourself. The skin is collagen and when it gets hot it shrinks So, to answer the question. Clothes shrink because the fibres in them cannot stand the heat applied to them. This breaks chemical bonds in the fibres which reduces their stability leading to shrinkage. If you are interested in collagen there was a very good paper by CE Weir, J of Research of the National Bureau of Standards 1949 Vol 42 pages 17-32

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