Can Polyester be Put in the Dryer?


Have you ever wondered which clothes to put in the dryer as you stared at the wet laundry in your washing machine? You probably already know that different fabrics respond to heat in different ways. Does polyester shrink in the washer or dryer, for instance?

Polyester can be safely placed in a typical dryer setting and does not shrink when placed in a warm washing machine cycle. On the other hand, polyester may shrink or warp if you soak it in hot water or dry it for a long time. When compared to 100% polyester, blends shrink more easily.

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

What Is Polyester?

A long-chain synthetic polymer and an ester from a substituted aromatic carboxylic acid are combined to create polyester, a synthetic fiber used in clothing and other products. Polyesters come in a variety of forms, such as PET, which is used in soft drink bottles but can also be extruded to create fibers. Strong and resistant to stretching, shrinking, and wrinkles, it is a fiber. A variety of other fabric fibers can be combined with polyester fabric.

What Textiles Made Of Polyester Are Worn By Whom?

Polyester is used for every kind of garment because it is so versatile and can be produced with a wide range of properties that alter the fabric’s appearance and feel. However, polyester is a great fabric to use for outdoor activities because it is tough, especially when combined with other fibers. Being hydrophobic by nature, especially if it’s coated with a water resistant finish, it’s perfect for moist and damp environments. Consequently, a variety of clothing items like parkas, outdoor gear, and even fleeces are made of polyester.

How Should I Wash Polyester Clothing?

Since polyester is frequently combined with various fabrics, it is always a good idea to read the fabric care label.

The majority of polyesters can be machine washed on the warm setting.

Add Ariel All-in-1 PODS Washing Tablets or Ariel Original Washing Liquid with For the best outcomes, use Lenor fabric conditioner.

Polyester Fabric Drying Methods

With a cool setting, polyester can be tumble dried without shrinking.

The clothes should be taken out of the dryer while still slightly damp to prevent wrinkles and static buildup.

How Should Polyester Fabrics Be Ironed And Stored?

Polyester doesn’t typically wrinkle, but if it does, use a low heat setting. Polyester can melt in warm environments. Depending on the situation, hang or fold your clothing when storing it. Depending on the item, polyester clothing can either be hung up or folded.

100% Polyester: Does It Shrink?

100% polyester shrinks very slowly. The polymer fibers in this fabric are specifically made for their strength and durability, and they can withstand fairly extreme conditions without stretching or shrinking, even though they can melt at high enough temperatures. Additionally, many polyester garments have additional shrinkage resistance thanks to specific chemical treatments.

Polyester fabric, a synthetic fabric made from lengthy, strong yarns, is essentially plastic. Its fibers are made from a chemical reaction between an acid and an alcohol that results in brittle plastic shards for a short time before melting into molten plastic that is then spun into tiny threads. These fibers were created in a lab and are extremely resilient.

Therefore, polyester will essentially last forever as long as you keep it away from very high heat. A 100% polyester garment should never be harmed by standard washing and drying procedures.

A 100% polyester shirt could probably be thrown into the Mississippi River in Minnesota, watched as it tumbled through 31 states, and then fished out of the Gulf of Mexico largely undamaged. (But please don’t throw your shirt in the water! Even if the polyester itself wasn’t harmed, the surrounding environment would be.).

All things considered, if you don’t properly maintain any fabric—including a synthetic polyester—you can ruin it. Polyester can be made to melt, shrink, or become misshaped by subjecting it to temperatures that cause those resilient fibers to warp or melt.

What then actually causes polyester to shrink? There is a very straightforward response: high heat.

We’re not talking about the kind of heat you experience while watching your daughter play soccer in the stands in 90 degree weather. However, ironing could cause the fabric to burn or melt. Polyester’s fibers will contract and shrink if it is submerged in boiling water.

For the majority of fabric types, this is true. Before being woven into cloth, fabric fibers are spun and stretched into threads. High heat relieves this tension, allowing the fibers to revert to their shorter, original length.

In this regard, polyester outperforms many natural fabrics. While it’s simple to unintentionally scorch polyester with an iron, shrinking it is a challenge. Tips for intentionally shrinking polyester will be covered later.

In The Washing Machine, Does Polyester Shrink?

However, washing polyester in hot water can result in a small amount of shrinkage. Polyester does not shrink in cool or warm washing machine cycles. Set your washing machine to permanent press and use cool water if you want to be extra cautious. Additionally, this will lower your hot water bill.

Never wash polyester above 230°F to prevent shrinking.

As you’ll soon see, many polyester blends need more delicate maintenance than 100% polyester. Always read the care label before washing a garment to find out what kind of fabric it is made of and how to care for it.

How To Wash Polyester Fabric

Here are a few quick cleaning suggestions for polyester.

  • To prevent any snagging on zippers or other sharp objects, turn your clothing inside out. A polyester garment can also have its color preserved and not fade by being turned inside out.
  • Use your washing machine’s cold or warm water settings.
  • Set your machine to permanent press for the best results. This setting uses slower spin cycles that result in less friction rubbing on your clothing and prevent wrinkles.
  • Although a milder option wouldn’t hurt, regular laundry detergent works perfectly well!

When Dried, Does Polyester Shrink?

When dried normally, polyester does not shrink. It is generally safe to dry polyester using standard dryer settings, with the caveat that you should always abide by the instructions on the care tag of any specific garment.

Use the lowest heat setting on your dryer if it has multiple options. Information on dryer settings can be found in your owner’s manual. Make sure that the dryer is not set to a temperature higher than 100°F when drying polyester.

When clothes are dried, why do they shrink? To quickly dry clothes, dryers combine heat and motion. As previously mentioned, heat causes fabric fibers to constrict.

Even on low heat settings, some fabrics react dramatically, and they shouldn’t ever be dried. 100% polyester, on the other hand, won’t shrink unless you use the highest heat setting on your dryer, go through several dryer cycles, or wash the item in boiling water before putting it in the dryer.

Your clothing shouldn’t be harmed by standard dryer settings. But you could take a few particular actions for the best outcomes.

First, if you want to be extra cautious, polyester will easily air dry in two to four hours. You can hang your garment up in your shower and it will be ready to wear in a couple of hours if you want to save a little electricity and don’t want to worry about putting it in the dryer.

The cool dry setting on your dryer, also known as tumble dry, is another option. You can avoid the issue of how much heat is safe for your clothing because polyester dries quickly.

But since most of us only do one or two large loads of laundry per week, it is much simpler to just put everything in the dryer on a regular setting! This won’t harm your polyester clothing, but you may want to pause the dryer cycle before it’s finished and remove the clothes while they’re still just a little bit damp to prevent static electricity buildup.

These suggestions also hold true for various polyester blends, though we’ll talk more about those later.

How To Dry Polyester Fabric

Here is a quick tutorial on how to dry polyester fabric safely.

  • Make sure your clothes aren’t being exposed to temperatures above 100°F by checking the dryer’s settings.
  • Turn wet clothes inside out before putting them in the dryer, if you haven’t already before the wash cycle.
  • Run a dryer cycle on low or regular heat for almost the entire time, pausing just before the cycle is finished.
  • To avoid static electricity, take the lightly damp clothing off of the hanger and let them dry completely.

Do Polyester Blends Shrink In The Wash?

In comparison to 100% polyester, poly blends are more likely to shrink during washing. In poly blends, spandex, rayon, and cotton are mixed with polyester fibers. These mixtures produce fabrics with distinctive and practical qualities.

Each additional fiber in the blend has a distinct set of characteristics. In hot water, for instance, cotton shrinks significantly. Polycotton, which combines polyester and cotton, shrinks more than polyester alone.


This mixture combines cotton and polyester fibers in a typical ratio of either 50/50 or 65% cotton and 35% polyester. Polycotton breathes like cotton and dries quickly like polyester. In addition to bedsheets, t-shirts frequently contain this fashionable fabric.

Typically, 100% cotton shrinks significantly during the first wash and then retains its shape fairly well after that. Under typical conditions, polycotton resists shrinking or wrinkling due to its high polyester content.

Polycotton, in contrast to 100 percent polyester, shrinks when washed in warm water and dried on high heat. You must be cautious when washing polycotton clothing in hot water as it will shrink.

Any 50/50, 65/35, or 60/40 polyester/cotton blend will perform best when washed in cool water to prevent the risk of the cotton shrinking during the wash. However, because polycotton shrinks much less than 100% cotton, the polyester fibers shield the cotton fibers to some extent.

Polyester And Rayon

This mixture produces a light, silky fabric that is frequently used in dresses, intimate apparel, and upscale blouses. Here’s the catch: rayon needs much more delicate handling than polyester. You should hand wash or use only a gentle, cold water cycle in the washing machine to protect clothing made of this blend.

Clothing made of polyester and rayon shouldn’t be dried in a dryer. These clothes should be air dried, either by being laid flat on a towel to prevent further stretching or by being hung up in the shower to drip-dry.

Polyester And Spandex

Yoga pants, bras, and athletic apparel are all made with a fantastic, stretchy blend of polyester and spandex. Almost certainly, you have clothing made of this enjoyable, stretchy material. Do you notice that these clothes occasionally shrink or stretch out of shape in the wash?

Put your clothing in a warm wash followed by a cold rinse cycle to prevent harming polyester-spandex garments. You can dry this mixture using a low heat setting in your dryer.

To avoid static electricity build-up, which can be quite severe with this material, either use a dryer sheet or take the clothes out of the dryer before the cycle is finished!

Blends of spandex and polyester can contain as little as 5% spandex and as much as 95% polyester, or as much as 20% spandex and only 80% polyester. You should handle the garment with more care the higher the percentage of spandex in the blend.

Your workout shirt’s label, for instance, might say “89% cotton, 11% spandex.”” This blend shouldn’t shrink when put through a warm washing cycle and a low-heat spin in the dryer. You should probably think about washing in cold water and air drying any clothing that has 20% spandex in it.

Water drops on Waterproof Textile

How To Shrink Polyester

The flip side of the coin, as it were, is the situation where you actually need to shrink polyester clothing! Applying controlled heat to poly will cause its fibers to contract and shrink.

Maybe you placed an online order for a shirt, only to find out when it was delivered that it was a little too big for you. Is it possible to shrink the shirt to fit?

Since you now know that blends will shrink much more easily, check the label inside your clothing to see if it is 100% polyester or a poly blend.). To shrink, 100% polyester needs to reach a temperature of at least 140°F.

There are three easy ways to reach this temperature.

Use your washer and dryer for the simplest, hands-free method. “You’re most likely thinking, “Wait. “Didn’t you just say the washer and dryer won’t shrink polyester?”

Yes, that’s correct; however, the topic we’ll be discussing now is turning up the heat settings on those common appliances.

Put your clothing in the washer with hot water on the inside-out setting. Put it in the dryer after that on a high heat setting. This prolonged exposure to high heat should cause the garment to shrink.

Polyester can also be made to shrink by using an iron. The first step in this procedure is to soak the item in water, after which you should roll it up in a towel until it is just damp. The garment should then be turned inside out, laid flat on an ironing board, and covered with a pressing cloth.

Put the heat on medium-low in your iron. Polyester will melt, scorch, or stiffen if it receives a hot enough ironing surface.

When the fabric is dry, gently iron it again using the ironing cloth. The best method for shrinking polyester clothing is ironing. Even 100% polyester, which can be very difficult to shrink, can be used.

Putty in boiling water is another method for shrinking polyester. Put your garment in a big pot of boiling water after taking it off the stove. After letting it soak for five to ten minutes, remove the garment from the water using tongs to prevent burning yourself.

Roll the item up in a towel once it is cool enough to touch, blot up any remaining moisture, and then let it air dry.

How Much Can Polyester Shrink?

100 percent polyester won’t shrink all that much. Its synthetic fibers make it quite difficult to even slightly shrink, necessitating extreme measures. If you normally wear a medium size t-shirt and purchase an XL thinking you can shrink it to fit, you’ll be dissatisfied.

There isn’t a simple formula that says, “Wet polyester shrinks two sizes if you iron it for five minutes.”” This is a trial-and-error process. Polyester can possibly shrink down a size or two, but it is unlikely.

How precisely can polyester be shrunk is a further point to think about. The truth is that there is no straightforward method for making any fabric shrink precisely one size or to fit the precise curve of your hips. Although you can shrink the fibers of the fabric, you should be aware that the results might not be exactly what you want.

Is Polyester Permanently Shrinkable?

Polyester can be shrunk with a lot of heat, but nothing you do to fabric is really irreversible. Polyester can shrink and unshrink, as this article demonstrates.

However, even after being shrunk, the garment will keep its smaller shape unless you deliberately stretch it out. To help it keep its shape, wash the item in cool water and let it air dry. On the other hand, you can try continuing to wash your item in hot water to see how much further it will shrink if you want to!

When Dry-cleaned, Does Polyester Shrink?

Polyester shouldn’t shrink or be harmed in any way by dry cleaning. Dry cleaning rarely results in fabric shrinkage and is created to safeguard delicate clothing.

Giant, computerized washers are used in dry cleaning to wash clothes, and the solvent used is a liquid that has very little water in it. To keep the clothing from getting too warm during this process, these washers also use enormous coolers. Most fabrics won’t shrink during dry cleaning because they don’t contain water or heat.

This makes sense because clothing that is designated as “dry clean only” is typically made of delicate or delicate-feeling materials, like wool.

Although polyester won’t be harmed by dry cleaning, you should probably save your money since polyester doesn’t need to be dry cleaned. It can survive a typical wash cycle because it is durable enough.

How To Unshrink Polyester

Polyester can be made to stop shrinking by soaking its fibers in a special solution and 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 worry, just follow these instructions to unshrinking polyester.

  1. Add a teaspoon or two of hair conditioner to a washtub or your sink full of warm water. Your polyester garment should soak for around fifteen minutes in the water.
  2. Get ready a drying station while it soaks: you’ll need a flat surface covered by a towel and either some rounded objects to use as weights or clothespins. (Even better if you have a drying rack for sweaters!)
  3. Out of the water, take the clothing. Do not wring it out to dry it; instead, gently rinse it under running water. Instead, lightly squeeze it between your hands to remove some of the water before rolling it up in a towel until it is only slightly damp.
  4. Bring the item to your drying station. Lay it out flat, then weight down the edges with something heavy or use clothespins to attach the edges to the towel.

Your garment should have reclaimed its original dimensions once it is completely dry!

Which Materials Are Suitable For The Dryer?

Given that people who own a clothes dryer use it so frequently, it’s helpful to understand which fabrics should be kept far away from a clothes dryer and which can (hopefully) be safely dried without changing shape. Here is a brief summary of the more popular fabrics, but always remember to read the washing care label before washing any particular clothing item! Continue reading for more advice.


Warm clothing options like scarves, gloves, tracksuits, and sweaters are commonly made of acrylic, a lightweight synthetic fiber used as an alternative to wool or cashmere. Customers have the option of purchasing 100% acrylic clothing or, for a more affordable winter option, acrylic items blended with wool or cashmere.

Acrylic clothing can be dried in the dryer because of its synthetic composition, but you must use a low temperature cycle because a high temperature will cause the fabric to permanently wrinkle. Similar to how leaving your acrylics in the dryer after the cycle is complete will result in wrinkles, be sure to remove them as soon as you can.

Although it’s best to check the label before you start ironing, if you do accidentally leave the clothes in the dryer and they get a few wrinkles, you can use a clothes iron on a medium setting to save the day. A wardrobe won’t suffer during the storage season because acrylic is also moth-proof.


One of the more well-liked choices for clothing materials is cotton, a natural fiber produced by cotton plants. Cotton is frequently spun into yarn or thread, which is then used to make soft, breathable clothing that is useful in climates with frequent changes in the weather. Also used to make a variety of products, cotton can be found in bedding and is frequently combined with synthetic materials like polyester.

Although 100% cotton clothing may shrink in the dryer, most cotton blends should be able to make it through the drying process without shrinking, despite the fact that cotton clothing is widely available. It never hurts to look for drying instructions on a tag if you’re unsure or concerned about a specific item.


Denim clothing, in particular jeans and shorts, is a common choice for many now that the double-denim revival is in vogue. Denim is a durable fabric made of cotton that is great for a night out on the town as well as casual Fridays.

Denim fabrics can be dried in the dryer, but for best results, remove them just before the cycle is finished and let them air dry instead, as they will maintain their shape for a longer period of time. When using a tumble dryer, use the delicate cycle on low heat, and if you need to iron out crinkles, use low heat as well.


Linen, which is made from the fibers of the flax plant, is frequently very absorbent and is used for towels, bedding, as well as a variety of clothing options. Since linen is a natural fiber, it is simple to blend it with other materials to give customers a wide range of options for decorating their bedrooms or closets.

Many people find it simpler to throw linens like towels and sheets in the dryer, especially during the colder months. Most types of linen will be dryer-safe depending on the blend, but tumble drying may shorten the fabric’s lifespan. For other kinds of dryers, linen will be secure at a low temperature but is also easily crinkled.

However, linen clothing is a different matter; many advise having linen clothing professionally dry cleaned or air dried to prevent shrinkage and creases.


Microfibre is a synthetic fiber that is smaller than a human hair strand and is typically made of polyester and polyamides like nylon. Microfibers are typically used to create mats, knitwear, cleaning tools, upholstery, and specialty clothing like cycling jerseys.

Clothes and covers made of microfibre should dry just fine as long as you set the dryer to a low temperature because microfibre dries more quickly than other materials. To prevent the accumulation of lint, it is also advised to dry with other microfibre products.


Before nylon and nylon blends were used to create a wide range of clothing items and varieties, including the popular activewear line, nylon was a versatile synthetic material that was typically used for stockings. Since cotton, polyester, and spandex are now frequently combined with nylon for comfort, 100% nylon products are becoming less popular.

Check the labels before you put the majority of nylon products in the dryer to make sure. Nylon dries quickly, so it is advised to run a low temperature cycle and remove the fabric as soon as you can. If nylon is left in the dryer for an extended period of time, it may be damaged. To avoid being shocked, dry nylon with a dryer sheet since it also accumulates static cling.


One of the most popular synthetic fabrics for clothing, polyester is frequently blended with other materials to make blankets, clothing, apparel, and various types of home décor.

Polyester dries quickly, so you might not even need to use a dryer, but if you do, you won’t ruin your clothes, so use it with confidence. Additionally, using a low temperature cycle will prevent any potential deterioration or shrinkage. Because polyester generates static cling as well, a dryer sheet is a useful addition to the cycle.


In order to be comfortably worn on a daily basis, spandex is frequently combined with cotton or polyester. It is used for a variety of sporting apparel, as well as swimsuits and compression wear.

Check clothing tags before you put them in the dryer because spandex is frequently combined with other fabrics. Some spandex clothing may be okay to dry, while others are best hung out to dry. In general, more harm can be done the more spandex your clothing contains.


Although you can certainly wash polyester in a regular washer and dryer cycle, you now have a better understanding of how to care for your polyester clothing. In case you ever need to make your clothes a little bit smaller, you also know that ironing wet poly or dipping it in boiling water will cause the fabric to shrink.

Have you ever struggled to maintain polyester? Tell us in the comments section below!

Lucky Wong

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