Will Flannel Sheets Shrink?

Flannel Sheets


Flannel is a type of soft woven fabric that is particularly suited to those who like feeling cozy and covered during periods of great cold and chilling temperatures. Flannel is mostly used in sheets and typically consists either entirely of cotton or a cotton and poly blend. It is available in many colors, prints and patterns.

Like all things under the sun, flannel sheets have both a set of advantages as well as their fair share of disadvantages. In this article, we will explore the benefits of flannel sheets, as well as name their chief drawback: Their tendency to lose their softness over the long term. And of course, we will answer the million dollar question: Will flannel sheets shrink?

Flannel Sheet Benefits

There are many benefits to using flannel sheets. Their most obvious upside is their softness and warmth which is quite simply irreplaceable. In general, they will provide much more warmth than a comforter while simultaneously staying highly breathable: You are not going to wake up hot, or sweaty during the night.

Their potential for producing warmth leads to a much desirable side effect. Your heating bill drops down a ton. When stretched over a long enough time period, these monthly bill savings add up to quite the impressive price. Flannel sheets are very cost effective, when seen under these lens.

Finally, even though people commonly make mistakes when taking care of their flannel sheets that end up causing lots of trouble, caring for flannel is rather easy and straightforward if you know what you are doing. It is nothing complicated, and it is very easy to follow, as we will describe below.

How To Take Care of Flannel Sheets

The chief drawback of flannel sheets is that they tend to lose their softness and shrink over time. This is primarily because people do not take the time to learn how to actually take care of them the proper way. In essence, the key points are few and easy to remember:

  • ​Separate sheets by color.
  • ​Wash them on your machine’s gentlest setting.
  • ​Dry them gradually and only at a low temperature.

These main, key points alone will extend the longevity of your flannel sheets softness considerably and minimize their chances of shrinking. Now, let’s get a bit deeper:

  1. Use vinegar: During your first flannel sheet washing, add half a cup of vinegar. The substance’s acidity prevents any pills from forming and also locks the sheet’s colors and prevents them from running off in future washings.

  2. Avoid fabric softeners: Using a fabric softener on flannel actually makes the fabric stiffen and lose its softness and also potentiates the pilling problem. After all, a flannel sheet is soft by design, therefore there is no real need to use a softener.

  3. Alternate between sheets: Ideally, you should have about three flannel sheets that you can alternate. This will prolong their lifespan significantly than it would, had you relied on a single sheet.

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  4. Never wash with hot water: High temperatures actually shrink the fibers in flannel – a sure way to make your sleeping much less comfortable. Stay away from hot water and aim for low or even cold washing temperatures.

  5. Air-dry whenever you can: Again, you should try to avoid heat when drying flannel sheets. The easiest way to do so is let them tumble dry. Just make sure you give them plenty of time to dry, as this takes longer.

  6. Treat any stains without excessive scrubbing. This one is self explanatory. 

Will A Flannel Sheet Shrink?

The short answer is that yes, flannel sheets will shrink, eventually. You can easily prevent that from happening any time soon by following the aforementioned processes and sheet care practices. As for how much will it shrink, well this largely depends on its quality, the specific brand as well as your own use or misuse of the product. Generally, you should expect it to shrink about 1 to 6 inches a yard, after a reasonable amount of time has passed since you first used it.  

If this sounds like too much shrinking for you and yet you still want to enjoy all the benefits of flannel sheets, we have a seemingly counter-intuitive idea to propose to you. Instead of trying to prevent the shrinking, get a flannel sheet that is a tad bit higher than you really need, and actively try and make it shrink as fast as possible, until it can shrink no longer. By the time you are done, hopefully, it will have shrunk to the size you wanted it to be at first.

In order to do so, you should still try and follow our flannel sheet care procedures, only this time, you will exchange cold and low to moderate temperatures to the highest possible temperature settings. So, for example, you would wash and dry your flannel sheets to as high a heat as you can expose them. It will not happen overnight, but it will happen fast enough, and your sheets will quickly settle on their end, final size.


If you have been feeling chilly lately you might want to invest in getting a pair or two of flannel sheets. They are bound to get you back to feeling cozy and warm in record time. That being said, you should be well aware that despite their many benefits, flannel sheets have their disadvantages. You would do well to take care of them deliberately and actively, unless you are interested in seeing them lose their softness and end up shrinking really fast.

Alternatively, you can go the other way about it. Force them to shrink as much as they are going to shrink from the get go, in order to know exactly how big the end flannel sheet will be. If you are going down that route, you might want to get your sheets somewhat larger than you intend them to be, so that they will fit your needs nicely after they have shrunk. 


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