- Written by Rich Fitzmorris
Question: Is there any information available concerning dimensional stability, i.e. shrinkage, of towels in repeated commercial laundering? Also, what is the average number of wash cycles that a towel goes through before it is discarded?
- Clay Tingle, Technical Manager
Answer: The manufacturer should be able to provide this information for the specific towels that you are using or purchasing. There are, in my opinion, differences in domestic and imported textiles. Generally I have found that domestic products quality is better than most imports. The blend of the towel will make a difference in the amount of shrinkage, as will the temperatures of the washing and drying process. For instance a 100% cotton towel may shrink more than a blend of 86/14 cotton to polyester. Depending upon the manufacturer, towels washed in very hot water may cause them to shrink some. Most often the drying process can cause shrinkage by high temperatures and over drying of the fabric materials. Much of the shrinkage has to do with the manufacturing - how tight the product was woven. It is not unusual to see 10-15% shrinkage in most towels these days, and if enough bad conditions exist in the processing, 20% or more is possible.
The number of washings you might receive from a towel will depend on a number of circumstances.
• Quality of manufactured towel (most important)
• Purpose or use of the towel
• The severity of wash process (harshness of chemistry)
• Handling, drying and finishing
There in no ‘average’ number of wash cycles one can determine for any textile without information on use, or a tracking of historical use. I would recommend an evaluation of the items I mentioned, and testing different manufactures and qualities in a control process can often be extremely valuable.
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