What is Sanforization or Sanforizing of Fabrics?

Sanforizing or Sanforization is the process of pre-shrinking fabric, which is a controlled compressive shrinkage process, which is applied on woven fabric to achieve shrinkage before making the garments. The process of sanforizing limits the post-wash fabric shrinkage to less than 1%.

What is Sanforization or Sanforizing of Fabrics?

Figure: Effect of Sanforization on Woven Fabrics.


Sanforizing is a method that was produced in the 30s to prevent denim from shrinking. Having spent his youth wrangling alligators in Florida, learning the Seminole language and working in the engineer corps for the Spanish-American War, the process of sanforizing was invented by Sanford Lockwood Cluett (1874–1968) in 1930.

Developed in the late 1920s by the American chemist Sanford Cluett and patented by Sanforize Co. in 1928, the process was reportedly first used by Erwin Mills in 1936 to make denim for overalls marketed under JC Penney's Big Mac label. Lee jeans were made from Sanforized fabric soon afterwards, but Levi's jeans remained shrink-to-fit for another three decades until the 1960s. Sanforization is known as "Controlled Compressive Shrinkage Process" in textile industry, and it is the most popular method for pre-shrinking fabrics.


Sanforization is the process of treating woven fabrics to reduce the amount of shrinkage that would otherwise occur after the first wash.

Mechanical compacting is one method of reducing residual shrinkage. The process forces yarns closer to each other and the fabric becomes thicker and heavier. As a result of this, the net yardage yield is reduced. The effect of Sanforizing can be seen in figure which shows that open fabric structure has been closed up somewhat. The process consists of a range where the fabric is first moistened with steam, to make it more pliable, run through a short tenter frame (pup tenter) to straighten and smooth out wrinkles, through the compressive shrinkage head and then through a Palmer drying unit to set the fabric. The fabric is wound into large rolls under minimum winding tensions. If the winding tension are excessive, the fabric will be pulled out and the degree of compaction lessened.


  • By applying the process of sanforization, a cloth is produced which does not shrink significantly during clothes production such as washing, cutting, ironing, sewing, hence decreasing the production cost.
  • Fabric which has gone through sanforization in production will have minimal shrinkage during first washing and will ultimately stop shrinking after 3rd wash.
  • Sanforized fabrics are highly desirable for customers.
  • Sanforized fabrics save the customers from the trouble of shrinking of their favorite clothes.
  • Sanforized fabric is highly sought after fabric.
Muhammad Rehan Ashraf

I am a Textile Engineer, founder and editor of "Textile Trendz". Currently working in an export-oriented textile organization. I love to share my knowledge about textiles.