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What are Prewashed Garments?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2016
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Prewashed garments are articles of clothing made of material that has been washed prior to the manufacturing of the garment. T-shirts are common articles of clothing made from prewashed fabric, as well as some collared shirts, blouses, and other types of garments. While many articles of clothing are not manufactured from prewashed fabric, many are and there are several advantages to buying prewashed garments.

One of the biggest advantages of prewashed garments is retention of size and shape. Articles made from pure cotton or a high percentage of cotton will shrink when first washed. Prewashed garments are more likely to retain their size and shape because any shrinking of the material was done prior to manufacturing. Similarly, prewashed fabrics also tend to fade less, which means they better retain their color and aren’t likely to bleed when first washed.

Many people are more confident buying prewashed garments because of the reduced likelihood of chemical presence in the fabric. While a prewashed garment may have fewer chemicals in the fabric, it does not guarantee that chemicals weren’t added during or after manufacturing. Some chemicals, such as the flame retardant compounds added to infants' and children’s pajamas, are added during manufacturing as required by law under the jurisdiction of the manufacturer’s location.

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Just as some manufacturers produce articles from prewashed fabric, making articles at home from prewashed fabric also has its advantages. In fact, many patterns for clothing and household linens suggest washing the fabric before sewing. This helps ensure that the finished product will retain the size and shape you intend.

When shopping for clothing, a prewashed garment is usually identifiable by the size and care tag sewn inside. The word “preshrunk” usually accompanies 100% cotton garments if the fabric used to make the garment was prewashed. When buying a garment made with cotton absent of any indication of prewashing, consider buying a slightly larger than normal size to allow for shrinking and use care when washing and drying to avoid excessive shrinking and fading.

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