Does Polyester Shrink? The Answer Is Yes!


Polyester is one of the easiest materials to maintain when it comes to clothing. If you spread polyester as soon as it is washed, it rarely needs to be ironed. In comparison to cotton, polyester also exhibits fewer signs of color fading. Does polyester shrink?

Yes, 100% polyester shrinks, but only under specific conditions because it naturally resists shrinkage. Although polyester is resistant to shrinking, it can still happen if you wash it in hot water or iron it with a hot iron because polyester is a synthetic fabric made of polymer.

Let’s look at how to care for polyester, what happens to it in the washer, and how to purposefully shrink it.

What Is Polyester?

Polyester fibers are thermoplastic or heat-sensitive. These are synthetic or polyester-based fabrics that were created by humans. (Polyethylene terephthalate, PET) is another name for them as man-made polymers. When terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol are combined, fiber is produced.

Polyesters are a subset of polymers. These include synthetic substances like polybutyrate as well as naturally occurring chemicals found in plants and insects. Clothes are typically made with synthetic polymers. The majority of synthetic polyesters, with the exception of natural polyesters, are not biodegradable.

100% polyester fabrics can be given decorative shapes and permanent pleats, and patterns are laser-cut into them. Because of their high stain resistance, they are useful for cleaning. There might be static buildup on the 100% polyester garment.

When touched, polyester clothing has an almost silky feel and is slippery. The fibers are knitted or wove to create the cloth. Its fabric can be quickly and easily changed for a variety of uses, and it is naturally bright. 100% polyester is highly flammable!

Do Polyester Shrink?

It is true that 100% polyester will slightly shrink after several hot water washes and high-temperature dries. Cotton/poly blends may also slightly shrink. However, they won’t shrink if you wash your polyester clothes in cold water and dry them on a cool setting or in a permanent press as directed.

We wanted to get first-hand information in order to definitively answer this question. Therefore, we decided to put three of our most well-liked performance tees to the test. The shirts were washed and dried 5 times, using hot water and a high-temperature dryer cycle. Dryer sheets, detergent, or fabric softeners are not allowed. merely hot air and water.

The results were surprising: All three shirts noticeably shrank to some degree. They shrank, albeit not by a full size and not quite by a half size. This is significant because polyester is not typically known for shrinking. Some companies even promote their anti-shrink qualities. You’ll see, however, that no shirt can stand up to numerous hot washes and dries.

Does Polyester Shrink In The Dryer?

Yes, it is possible to get around polyester’s inherent resistance properties if the dryer’s temperature is set to higher numbers. There is also an upper-temperature limit that, if exceeded, will undoubtedly cause the fabric to melt or become hard.

The maximum temperature of your dryer cannot be higher than 180 degrees Fahrenheit if you don’t want it to shrink your polyester fabric. All the meticulous laundering procedures should be followed to keep a polyester item at its original size.

Related Reading: Can Polyester be Put in the Dryer?


How Much Does Polyester Shrink?

The temperature of the dryer and the water used to wash the polyester directly affects the percentage of shrinkage. In comparison to cotton, its fabric can shrink at very low temperatures. The polyester fabric can be intentionally shrunk to the point where it is now ¼ to ½ smaller than it was before the treatment.

Try giving the item a warm water wash, either by hand or in the machine, if only minimal shrinkage is required. Let the medium heat setting on the dryer handle the remaining task. Use a mind detergent when washing a garment if it has stains or is otherwise dirty.

Use higher temperatures in the washing machine’s wash and rinse cycles to ensure that 100% polyester shrinks as little as possible. The wash cycle ought to be significantly longer. To avoid the fabric fading or bleeding from intense heat, it is preferable to turn the clothing inside out. After the wash is finished, dry the item in the hottest setting recommended for the fabric and inspect it for shrinkage. If you’re not satisfied, iron it at a low to medium temperature without using the steam function to prevent the fabric from becoming stiff. To protect the polyester fabric from any harm caused by direct contact with a hot iron, use a pressing cloth.

Another method for shrinking polyester clothing is to wash it in hot water. After all, the boiling water’s intense heat is enough to cause the fabric’s fibers to disintegrate and cause it to shrink. To complete this process, fill a large stockpot with clean water and bring it to a rapid boil. Then, turn off the heat source. Utilize a pair of tongs to transport the polyester material you need to shrink during this process to protect your hands. Pour the water and cloth into a colander after letting them sit in the water for longer than five minutes. Before wringing out the extra water, let the polyester garment cool and reach room temperature first. To prevent further shrinkage, either dry the fabric on high heat or let it air dry. If the first time the material does not shrink sufficiently, repeat the procedure.

How To Shrink Polyester?

What if you bought your polyester and later realized it was a little too large and wanted to shrink it? What if, like me, you dislike the tedious process of sewing adjustments? There are a few ways to shrink polyester, but none of them are guaranteed to work because polyester is a synthetic fabric that resists shrinkage, as we’ve already mentioned.

  1. Spend some time soaking the polyester in hot water. To prevent fabric damage, don’t submerge it for an extended period of time. The fabric may shrink slightly after coming into contact with hot water. By turning the washer’s temperature to hot, you can accomplish the same task.
  2. Polyester can shrink when heated. Utilizing the dryer’s heat setting is another way to try and further shrink the fabric.
  3. Polyester can shrink when ironed in a hot setting. To try and shrink, even more, use an iron that is only moderately hot. Use a pressing cloth every time, don’t forget.

However, you must use all of these techniques at your own risk because there is no assurance that they won’t harm your fabric. For example, washing with too hot or too cold water can fade fabrics and alter their color.

How To Unshrink Polyester?

Polyester can be made to stop shrinking by soaking its fibers in a special solution, then gently stretching it back into shape with weights or pins.

If you don’t always take the extra step to hang your clothes up to dry naturally, you’ve probably come to the dreaded realization that you accidentally shrunk a garment you really liked. Don’t panic; simply follow these instructions to unshrink the polyester.

  1. Add a teaspoon or two of hair conditioner to a washtub or your sink full of warm water. Put your polyester garment in the water and soak it there for approximately fifteen minutes.
  2. While it soaks, set up your drying station. You’ll need a flat surface covered in a towel, some rounded objects to use as weights, and either clothespin or a drying rack. (Even better if you have a sweater drying rack!)
  3. Out of the water, take the clothing. Rinse it under running water gently; do not wring it out to dry it. Instead, gently squeeze some of the water out of it between your hands before rolling it up in a damp towel.
  4. Go to your drying station with the item. Lay it out flat, then weigh down the edges or use clothespins to secure the edges to the towel.

Your garment should have returned to its original size once it is completely dry!

How To Care For Polyester?

Polyester is a fabric, without a doubt, and if you use a fabric, you must wash it promptly after use. Absolutely, provided you follow some instructions, you can wash 100% polyester. By reading the instruction manual, begin the washing process. Washing polyester fabric is best done with plain water and mild detergent. Because polyester is a synthetic fabric that resists shrinkage and heat, using the incorrect washing techniques can harm the fabric.

  • When throwing clothing into the washing machine, most people forget to read the care instructions. Read the care instructions on the label of every polyester item before washing it.
  • Remember to select the normal cycle when washing polyester in the dry cleaners. The best option is still to hand wash your polyester in cold or lukewarm water. Additionally, it’s important to refrain from washing your polyester with abrasive detergents.
  • Turning your polyester inside out is the ideal way to wash and dry it. While you can machine dry as usual, it’s best to hang the polyester to dry outside.
  • The fabric dries out quickly and thoroughly, which is a good thing. Even at this, drying it almost never results in wrinkles.
  • When washing or ironing the fabric, stay away from using hot water or high heat. The substance may begin to shrink and harden as a result of this. The colors may gradually deteriorate as a result of excessive heat.
  • You should be aware of polyester’s ability to absorb oil. Therefore, it is advised against washing your polyester with clothing that has grease or oil on it. Always wash polyester fabrics by yourself if at all possible.
  • Take care not to leave polyester fabrics in the washing solution for too long. The fabric’s appearance will be impacted, and it will age more quickly as a result.
  • If dried for an excessive amount of time, polyester might shrink. In order to avoid them wrinkling, it is crucial to take them out of the dryer as soon as possible. You won’t have to waste time trying to iron your polyester fabrics thanks to this.
  • After washing, hang the polyester in the shower to help the wrinkles straighten.
  • In contrast, you can steam press the polyester to remove wrinkles in areas where they persist after drying. Stick to the mildest setting and place a pressing cloth underneath when ironing polyester. You might think about pressing your polyester from the inside out. This will lessen shine and prevent direct contact with the iron plate.
  • Some irons include a polyester setting, while others do not. Use the nylon setting in this situation. This will stop the fabric from melting or hardening and shrinking as a result of excessive heat.


However, polyesters have a limited ability to shrink-resist. The 100% polyester fabrics can shrink under high heat with a minimum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. When adjusting the heat for your washer, dryer, and iron to shrink your polyester material, you must be very careful. In order to achieve the desired results with polyesters without causing any damage, the proper shrinking technique is required.

Have you ever had trouble caring for polyester? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Read More: Does Wool Shrink?

Russell Franklin

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