Does Modal Fabric Shrink? How to Shrink & Unshrink Modal

Many different fibers shrink after washing. We have all been a victim of our clothes suddenly not fitting anymore after we washed them or dried them in a dryer. Modal fibers are considered a high-end fiber type. So, does modal fiber shrink as well?

Modal fiber is considered a better version of rayon yarn, just as nylon is considered a better version of polyester. So normally, modal shrinks less than rayon fiber. But it does shrink, and the shrinking depends on temperature. In a cooler atmosphere, the modal absorbs more moisture.

Does Modal Fabric Shrink

Give this article a read to beware of what conditions can shrink your modal clothes. You’ll also know how to unshrink and shrink modal fabric as your wish.

Why Modal Fiber Shrinks?

Let’s see what is modal fiber first. As I said earlier, modal fiber is basically an improved kind of rayon fiber. It is produced from cellulose extracted from spinning beech trees.

Various parts of Europe, especially the northern and central, are abundant with beech forests. These countries can produce a huge amount of modal fiber without irrigation and farming.

Beech trees are available and good for the environment too. A beech tree needs a very little amount of water to grow and live.

Modal fiber fabrics are very soft and comfortable as well. It’ll feel very cozy when you wear a modal. This fabric has a softer texture than cotton but it’s more shrink and heat-resistant.

Even if modal is more durable than cotton and rayon, it’s a plant-based fiber itself. Plant fibers are very inclined to absorb moisture. When the moisture is removed by sunlight or any other arrangements, the fibers shrink and become smaller than their original shape.

How Much Does Modal Shrink?

Bio-based fibers always lack a bit of durability when compared to synthetic factory-based fibers. Every biofiber, like cotton, rayon, and many others, shrinks quite a lot after absorbing moisture.

Although modal fiber is produced from plants, it has a comparably better resistance against shrinking. That’s why 100% modal fabrics are considered a better choice for people who don’t like to be too careful while washing clothes.

But most of the time, modal fabrics in the market come mixed with some other form of fiber like cotton or rayon. These fabrics shrink quite a bit after washing or drying.

Although you can’t avoid the shrinking of your clothes, you can mitigate it by following some tips.

Does Modal Fabric Shrink More than Once?

Modals are normally hard to shrink, especially pure ones. But if you’re too careless when laundering your clothes, you can cause your modal to shrink.

Using hot water or high heat to launder your modal clothes and then drying them at hotter temperatures can shrink your clothes. Unfortunately, modal fibers can shrink whenever you put them in those conditions. So, the shrinkage will stack up and eventually make your clothes unwearable.

Does Micro Modal Fiber Shrink?

Micro modal fabric is actually a blend of authentic modal fibers and synthetic factory-produced fibers. Due to its partly synthetic build and lesser surface friction, the micro modal is more durable and shrink-resistant compared to pure modal fabric.

Also, micro modals are very stretchy. That’s why they can retain their comfort even after shrinking a bit. You should still be careful with how you launder your micro modal clothes.

Does Modal Shrink in the Dryer?

Actually, your dryer is the most likely place that will shrink your modal fabric. The main reason the modal shrinks in the dryer is because of the unregulated high-heat drying cycle. And plant fibers can’t tolerate high heat. They tend to shrivel.

So, any fabric or clothes made out of plant fibers like rayon, modal, or cotton will shrink if dried using a high heat cycle. Unlike modal, rayon is made from cellulose from pine trees. And beech trees provide better cellulose fibers than pine trees.

That’s why the modal is more heat resistant. But repeatedly drying your modal fabric in a high heat cycle can significantly shorten your clothes. You can dry your modal clothes in a low to medium heat cycle. But when it comes to drying rayon or cotton, always choose the low-heat setting.

Does Modal Shrink in Wash?

As modal is a stronger type of fiber, it doesn’t really get affected by water. At least room-temperature water doesn’t do nearly anything to modal fabrics. But washing in hot water can make your fabric shrink a little.

And as modal can shrink more than once, how you wash your modal fiber clothes is a very important factor. Rayon and cotton will shrink a lot when washed in hot water.

It is safe to wash your plant fiber clothes in cold water. The problem is that cold water can’t always provide the effective cleaning you need. So, you’ll need to find a suitable temperature, like low to medium heat, for cleaning your modal fabrics.

Read Next: Does Polyester Fiber Shrink?

How Can You Wash Your Modal Fabric without Shrinking?

You can easily avoid shrinking your modal by using the correct settings in the washing machine. Let’s take a look at the steps you can follow to keep your modal fabric from shrinking.

Keep Things Distinct

When washing your clothes, do your modal clothes or clothes of similar quality separately. Don’t mix cotton or rayon fabrics with your modal fabrics.

If you wash them together, appropriate settings for one type of fabric may harm or be inadequate for another type.

Applying Appropriate Chemicals

Not all chemicals and detergents are suitable for washing plant-based fibers. Synthetic fibers are built exceptionally stout and can withstand hard detergents and washing chemicals.

But plant fibers are more delicate compared to synthetic ones. So, only use mild detergents or chemicals for cotton or even modal. Hard chemicals will damage the fiber and make it less heat-resistant and, therefore, shrink-resistant.

Applying the Right Washing Machine Setting

While washing your clothes in the washing machine, it’s important to use the correct setting. You can apply a rougher cycle and hot water cleaning for synthetic fabrics but not for bio-based ones.

For your modal fabric, use a gentler cycle. Make sure the water is cold or medium warm at best. The general rule of thumb is that don’t wash your modal with water of more than 100 degrees.

So, never try to wash your modal with boiling water or anything that hot.

Use a Mesh Laundry Bag

Modal fabric clothes, actually any plant fiber-based fabric in general, are comparatively fragile. If your clothes or fabric item is small in size or is furnished with special features, it’ll be more vulnerable to a thorough washing.

You can use a mesh laundry bag to secure the piece in such cases. Just put the item in one and wash it alongside regular clothes. Your item will be just as clean without suffering any damage.

Dry in the Proper Way

Shrinking of modal fabrics depends a lot on the drying process as well. If you wash your modal in cold water but dry it in high heat, the fabric will suffer the highest amount of shrinkage.

To dry your modal using a dryer, always choose the low-heat cycle. You could dry it using a medium heat cycle if you washed the modal with medium hot water. It’s better if you don’t contrast the water temperature and the dryer temperature too much.

You can also directly hang the fabric outside to dry. If the temperature outside is too hot, don’t put your clothes directly under the sun to dry. Hang them somewhere with both shadow and heat.

How to Hand Wash Your Modal so that It Doesn’t Shrink?

Not everyone can afford a washing machine, not everyone wants to get one, either. Some of us believe that the best washing can be done only by hand.

Whichever it is, you need to wash your modal with caution to avoid shrinkage. Let’s see the proper step-by-step handwashing procedure of modal fiber clothes so that they don’t shrink.

Get the Water Ready

A lot of people believe that soaking your clothes in very hot water prior to hand washing your clothes get them really clean. This is not entirely accurate. While the soaking is a good practice, you don’t need to soak your clothes in very hot water.

Soak your clothes in lukewarm water for the best results. Also, prepare some lukewarm water for the final washing process and fill a bucket or washtub with it.

Mixing the Detergent

Get some mild detergent and mix it with the water. Stir the water nicely so the soap mixes well with the water and gets foamy.

Now submerge your item in the detergent mixture and let it rest for a while. 30-60 minutes of soaking the item in soap water should be good enough.

Wash Gently

After soaking the item for a good amount of time, bring out the item and gently wash it. Remember that the more delicate your fabric fiber is, the gentler you should be.

After giving a proper wash, rinse your cloth under cold water until all the soap washes away. Proper rinsing is essential because soap remnants can be detrimental to the fabric fibers and your skin.

Removing the Excess Water

A lot of us wring out excess water from washed clothes so that it dries quickly. This damages your modal fabric quality. To remove water from any bio-based fiber clothes, squeeze lightly.

After removing the water, hang it to dry or use the dryer on a low-heat cycle.

Can You Shrink Modal?

Yes, modal fabrics can be shrunk if necessary, but you won’t have full control over the process. You can manage a satisfactory outcome if you stay very cautious with the process. But many people accidentally shrink their clothes too much.

One reason why people shrink fabric is that the clothes get too stretched. You can also try to shrink clothes to make them fit better. Another reason is the pre-shrinking of fabrics for sewing projects.

If you shrink your fabric too much, don’t worry because you can unshrink it back. But going back and forth with these two processes will eventually wear down your clothes.

How to Shrink Modal Clothing: Step-by-Step

Shrinking modal fabrics is easy, but you need to be very careful with your process. The simplest way of getting the job done would be washing the fabric with hot water and then drying it in a high-heat cycle.

The following steps will help you get a satisfactory result with your modal shrinking.

Putting the Clothes in Washing Machine

Separate the fabric you want to shrink and put it in the washing machine. Don’t try to wash other clothes alongside because they might shrink as well. If you want to shrink more than one fabric, you can put them in the machine together.

For delicate items, you’ll still need the mesh laundry bag. And don’t use hard detergents and chemicals because that will weaken your fabric fiber and make it shrink more than you want.

Washing with Warm Water

After putting in the mild detergent, set the washing machine to a gentle cycle because we don’t want to damage the fibers in any way. Now turn the machine’s temperature setting to warm.

Don’t wash the clothes with hot water because you can’t control the shrinking process in the washing machine as much as you can in the dryer. Hot water is likely to shrink the fabric too much.

Using the Dryer

Put the clothes in the dryer after they get washed properly in the machine. With the dryer, you can control how much you shrink because you’ll be able to stop the dryer every few minutes to check.

Turn on the dryer and begin shrinking the fabric in a high-heat cycle. Check your fabric at least every 5-10 minutes so that it doesn’t shrink too much. To have finer control, reduce the duration of your checking interval.

After you’ve reached the desired amount of shrinkage, completely dry the fabric with a low heat cycle.

How to Unshrink Your Modal Clothes: Step-by-Step

You can unshrink your modal fabrics just as easily as you can shrink them. Let’s see what steps you can take to unshrink your modal clothes.

Make the Warm Water Ready

Get a tub full of lukewarm water and mix a small amount of mild detergent, shampoo, or handwash with it. Stir the water until it’s foamy.

The water temperature should be comfortably warm. If the water is too hot, you’ll actually get the opposite results.

Soak the Clothes

When the water is ready, soak your clothes in that water for 25-30 minutes. Soaking your fabric helps to loosen the fibers and makes it easy to stretch.

Remove Excess Water

After soaking the fabric, take it out but don’t rinse it under water. The soap on it will keep the fiber loose. Remove some excess water by gently squeezing the fabric.

Now place a dry towel lying flat on a surface. Lay your wet fabric on the towel and roll the towel with the fabric in it. Press on the towel to remove any remaining water from the fabric. This will keep your fabric wet but will stop the dripping.

Stretch the Fabric

Take the damp fabric and place it on another dry towel. Gently stretch the fibers, and you’ll find the fabric amenable enough to get back to its original shape. Now all you need to do is hang the fabric to dry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does 60% cotton and 40% blend modal shrink?

In the market, you’ll often find fabrics and items made of cotton-modal blends. These blends usually have 60% cotton and 40% modal in them. As cotton is less shrink resistant, these blends are more prone to shrinking than pure modal fabric.

Poorly crafted blends shrink more easily and incoherently. So, when buying mixed fabrics, ensure the quality first.

Can oxygen bleach shrink your modal?

No, oxygen bleaching your modal clothes won’t contribute to shrinking. It would actually brighten the color of your modal. So, applying oxygen bleach to your modal fabric is actually good for it.

How to iron your modal?

Washing your modal can make it very wrinkly sometimes. This depends on how you wash and dry your fabric. Washing and drying it in a cooler cycle will make it wrinkly, but that can be fixed by proper ironing.

Get your iron medium hot and smoothen the opposite surface of the fabric. Why the opposite side? Because using iron on the right side may create shiny spots on the surface.


Modal can be a fantastic replacement for cotton and rayon fabric due to the durability and shrink resistance of its fiber. Compared to other bio-based fibers, you can use modals more roughly.

The answer to ‘does modal fiber shrink’ may not be what you wanted, but the fact that you can control the shrinkage process should open some interesting windows for you.

Hi, I'm Robert Jameson. I'm a textile engineer. As a textile engineer, I design & create fabric. When I'm not busy with my family members, I research, write, and edit content for Fabric Fits.

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