What is sanforized denim?
Sanforized denim is made from cloth that has been stretched, fixed and shrunk in length at the mill. This is done in order to reduce the amount of shrinkage that can happen after your jeans’ first wash. The result of sanforization leads to 1-3% shrinkage, as opposed to 10% shrinkage with unsanforized (shrink to fit) denim.
Origin of sanforized denim
The idea of sanforized fabric was brought to life by an American businessman and inventor, Sanford Lockwood Cluett. The idea was developed in 1928 and patented in 1930. Cluett served in the military for 22 years before joining Cluett, Peabody & Co, a family owned textile firm specializing in men’s clothing.
Process of sanforization
1. The process begins as the cloth is fed into the sanforizing machine.
2. It is then fed through the skyer where the cloth is moistened with steam of water.
3. The cloth goes through heated rotating cylinder, which presses a rubber sleeve against another rotating cylinder, causing the fabric to stretch.
4. As the rubber sleeve continues to compress and expand, it eventually relaxes to its normal thickness and length while bringing the fabric with it, causing it to shrink.
5. Finally, the fabric goes into the dryer where the moisture is removed and the shrinkage becomes permanent.
Sanforized vs. Unsanforized Denim
Sanforized denim goes through a process of pre-shrinking, meaning you don’t have to size up when buying your jeans. Many people prefer sanforized jeans for this reason exactly, and they feel more comfortable buying jeans they know will fit.
Unsanforized (shrink to fit) denim does not go through a shrinking process, meaning you’ll have to size up appropriately to compensate for the amount of shrinkage that will happen after the first wash.