Woollen items shrinking in the washing machine

We have all seen it, a precious woollen item has shrunk in the wash.  Whatever the cause, this is not a fault of the machine itself and it is pointless to call in the engineer.


The item has shrunk as the fibres have tightly interlocked after being washed in the washing machine.  

The item may also feel thick, and this appearance is called felting.


  • You have not checked the washing label and have washed the garment in too high a temperature.  Most modern washing machines have a wash cycle specifically for woollens, or delicates.  This is a much more gentle washing motion and is far more unlikely to cause any problems with your woollens.
  • On many of the wash labels for woollen items, they recommend that you reshape the garment when wet and dry flat.  This is good advice and if you follow the directions, you should not have a problem with your garment
  • If you are worried about your garment, it may be that you prefer to handwash to avoid the possibility of shrinking.
  • If you notice that your well-washed garment is starting to thicken, it could well be that the item is getting older and is coming to the end of its natural life and, hard as it may be, you may have to replace it.
  • There are specialist detergents on the market and you may choose to use a woollens only detergent.


As stated above, if you reshape the item after washing and dry flat, you may be able to get the garment back to its original shape.



Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


Trustpilot Badge