Whether you’re running a hotel or just want a hotel quality sleep at home, shrinking bed sheets can pose a real problem. After all, premium bed linen comes at a price, and constantly having to replace shrunken sheets is less than ideal. It can be a drain on both your time and your finances and leave you wondering “do all bed sheets shrink?”. All bed sheets will shrink but the amount depends on the quality of the fabric itself. 

Keep reading to discover some simple ways to make sure your bedding stays the same shape wash after wash.

Why do bed sheets shrink? 

When bed sheets shrink it’s because the fabric’s weave has closed up due to the way it was washed or dried. It’s tricky to predict since most fabric types behave differently under the same conditions. 

Cotton sheets specifically may shrink the first time you wash them. So, when buying cotton bed sheets check whether they’ve been pre shrunk or not. That should help you avoid any surprises after the first wash. Other companies allow for shrinkage on the first wash and therefore make their bed sheets slightly oversized to begin with.

Does heat shrink sheets?

Using too much heat when drying them is the main cause for shrinking bed sheets. That’s why it’s common for bed sheets to shrink in the dryer when they’re exposed to high temperatures. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t use the tumbler dryer to dry your sheets, but the key is knowing how much heat to use. Find the sweet spot and your sheets will say wrinkle-free and the right size for much longer.

What can I do to stop bed sheets from shrinking? 

After washing your sheets at 60°C, use as little heat as possible to dry them. This should help stop them from shrinking. Here are some ways to keep the temperature down:

  • Don’t overdry: If you choose to tumble dry your bed sheets, be careful as overdrying can cause them to shrink. Instead, note how long it takes for them to dry and don’t dry them for any longer. Overdrying your sheets also makes it harder to iron out any creases.
  • Cool your sheets down: Most tumble dryers have a cool-down setting. Use this when washing your bed sheets so they don’t overheat and shrink. 
  • Sort your laundry: Different fibres like cotton, polyester and silk take varying lengths of time to dry. So when using a tumble dryer, sort your laundry according to fibres and wash them together. That way everything should dry at a similar pace and it ensures nothing is overdried.
  • Line drying: If there’s space on your washing line and sun in the sky, drying your bed sheets outside is the best way to avoid shrinkage. 

What should I look for when buying bed sheets? 

Of course, there are some important things to consider when buying your bed linen if you want fitted sheets that don't shrink. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Check the dimensions: It may seem obvious, but it’s important to check the dimensions of your duvets and pillows before you buy bed sheets. Some bed sheets are already pre shrunk and others state the expected shrinkage, if any. Keep an eye out for these details when buying bed sheets.
  • Check the labels: Most products include washing and care instructions. Follow these to make sure you launder your bed sheets in the right way. This will help them look newer for longer.
  • Opt for a flat sheet: Flat sheets are oversized so should always fit, even after they shrink a little. Use them as base sheets or as top sheets. They’re also easier to store than fitted sheets and cheaper to launder at an external laundry.
  • Try before you buy: If you’re investing in bedding for your whole home or hotel, buy a few items from the collection and wash them a few times first. This will help show how much they’re likely to shrink.
  • Consider a cotton blend: Since cotton bed sheets are more likely to shrink when exposed to heat, consider a poly-cotton blend instead. Polyester shrinks less but won't feel as nice as 100% cotton. Cotton shrinks slightly more but is comfier. By combining the two fabrics, you get the best of both worlds.
  • Buy products that last: When investing in new bed linen, look for companies like Richard Haworth where products go through rigorous tests in quality control labs. This means you can make your purchase with complete confidence.

On the hunt for new bed sheets? Explore our collection of hotel quality bed linen.