In terms of conservation of mass, how do clothes shrink in the dryer?

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Edit: I was putting on a shrunken sweater and I thought maybe the fabrics were bunched together, so I started tugging at various parts of the sweater to try and loosen the strings. Then it occurred to me that it would never retain its previous shape. Is it just (optically, for lack of a better explanation) smaller because of the tighter fabrics, or did some of the (mass) escape and is somewhere else (ie in the air) or what?

In: Chemistry

4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Unshrunk clothes are loose fibers, with air in between them. Shrunk clothes are the same fibers, but without air in between. The addition and then removal of water is just what makes the air escape and stay escaped.

Kind of like how you can stuff a sleeping bag into a smaller stuffsack, or hair into a hat.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Mass is essentially weight.

Shrinking is a comparative metric of volume.

Mass and Volume are unrelated except when discussing density.

Shrunken clothes are just more dense (same mass in a smaller size).

Anonymous 0 Comments

It ends up in the lint trap, which you have to empty after every load to prevent it catching fire.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Clothes don’t lose mass when they shrink*, the fibres and threads just get squished closer together, so the density increases.

 *A miniscule amount of mass is “lost” as fibres shed off during the process and are washed away with the water. This is where a lot of water microplastic comes from.