Will Hemp Fabric Shrink When Washed?

does hemp clothing shrink

Historical Hemp


There is no other plant that has a longer rich world history than hemp. Hemp was used before cotton was grown. Hemp has played a key role in the food, fashion, and general products industries throughout history. It was used in making paper to write ancient A.D. and B.C. literature. 


British ships used hemp for their sailing vessels. Historical U.S. politicians and some of our earlier Presidents grew hemp. These historical hemp farmers included Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.


Speculation is that as hemp farmers, these notable politicians did more than just grow it, if you know what I mean. But it does not matter because modern cannabis is shown to be helpful in treating illness. Other important historical facts about hemp include that the original U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the American flag were made from hemp.


Hemp Walks The Runway


Hemp has not lost its popularity especially in the field of clothing fabrics. Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Doo-Ri Chung, Hermes Graves, and many other designer houses regularly design dresses, jackets, shirts, and other runway clothing.


Hemp is recognized as a dominant fashion fabric because it can be combined with other natural fibers. The description of hemp in most minds is that of a rough, scratch burlap type of fabric. But hemp is so flexible and strong, that it can produce high-quality, durable, and soft fabrics.


Hemp Is the Foundation For Fabric Blends


When natural hemp is blended with other fibers, it enhances the wearable qualities of the other fabric. Take a combination of hemp, silk, and cotton. The soft elasticity of cotton and silk together with the natural strength of hemp creates a new genre of fashion design. 


For example, hemp can be combined to produce linen, terrycloth, twill, flannel, and silk. Hemp is often combined with cotton to make baby diapers, wedding gowns, beautiful lingerie, and textile products. You may be wearing hemp-inspired clothing right now and not realize it.


Hemp Fabric - Beneficial Properties


This amazing natural plant has many beneficial properties. When clothing, food, and other products are made from hemp, this plant does not lose its healthy content. Let's look at some of its clothing benefits:


  • Hemp clothing naturally protects you from harsh sunlight
  • Hemp prevents odors
  • Hemp protects the skin from bacteria
  • Hemp allows the skin to freely breathe
  • Hemp absorbs and releases perspiration quickly 
  • Hemp clothing can be washed repeatedly and remain soft 
  • Hemp naturally resists mold and mildew
  • Hemp can be easily dyed without losing its quality
  • Hemp fabric becomes softer over time
  • Hemp is mothproof

Will Hemp Shrink When Washed?


One of the most valuable parts of the hemp plant is the fiber. This is known as "blast" which means that the stalk of the hemp plant grows from the ground. Speaking of hemp clothing and its long-term quality, does hemp shrink when it is washed? 


The answer depends on what water temperature you are using. Hemp will shrink slightly when placed in hot water. If you wash hemp in cold water, hemp will not shrink and will retain its shape. Natural fabrics like hemp will shrink in hot water anywhere from 5%-15%. 


Like cotton, hemp fiber used in making clothing is stretched. When hot water or hot drying temperatures are used in laundering, it will cause the hemp fibers to return to their original "warp" (length) and "weft" (width) curled fibrous state. 


As strong as hemp fabric is and how well it keeps you cool during hot weather, as a natural plant fiber, it will shrink in hot wash water or in a hot dryer.  Interestingly, you can iron hemp clothing on a linen setting, but on the reverse side and while slightly damp. 


As a matter of care, wash on a gentle cold cycle using gentle or mild detergents. Washing in cold water makes hemp fibers soften. Also, do not use any bleach on this natural fiber or it will weaken its fibers very quickly. 


Because of hemp's' porous nature, it will also dry quickly in the open air. To ask if a hemp fabric will shrink when wet or washed, the assiduous answer would be no. Hemp can easily hold and absorb moisture. This includes whatever clothing or products are made from the hemp fabric. Hemp is the only fabric that is stronger wet than dry. Remember, however, shrinkage only occurs if a hemp fabric is washed in hot temperatures.