Does Polyester Shrink: Can You Shrink? How to Do it

Trying to decide whether to dry your polyester garments in a hot dryer? Are you asking yourself, does polyester fabric shrink? No worries, I have the answer to your question.

Does Polyester Shrink

Though polyester is a shrink-resistant material in general, it can shrink if you take proper measures. Polyester garments can shrink when washed in hot water, dried in a dryer at high temperatures, or ironed at high temperatures.

This article covers more information about shrinking polyester, different methods to effectively shrink polyester garments, and more. Continue reading to learn more.

Does Polyester Shrink?

Generally speaking, polyester is resistant to shrinking. However, the material can shrink if proper methods are implemented. So, if you follow proper instructions, it is possible to shrink a polyester garment.

If you have a large polyester t-shirt, and you want to shrink it to a very small size, that might not be possible. But if you insist and put in the effort, you can shrink your t-shirt to at least a noticeable size.

Does Polyester Fabric Shrink

Using a very hot and long washing cycle in the washing machine may cause polyester garments to shrink. After washing, leaving the garment in a very hot dryer for a long time will also result in shrinkage.

The shrinkage rate is higher if you iron the garment at a high temperature after washing it. The heat setting of the iron should be low to medium; the fabric can get stiffened otherwise. Avoid repeating ironing because this can damage the garment, and colors may fade after excessive ironing.

Does 100 Polyester Materials Shrink in the Dryer?

The answer is yes, 100% polyester can shrink when dried under the right conditions.

In the hot temperatures inside the dryer, polyester fibers gradually shrink. If the garment is not 100% polyester, it may take less time and heat to shrink. But for 100% polyester, it takes more time and higher heat settings to shrink to a noticeable size.

Does 100 Polyester Shrink in the Dryer

Firstly, I would say, it’s possible to shrink a polyester garment by simply placing it inside the dryer. However, I recommend beginning by soaking the polyester garment in hot water. To be more specific, put it in a washing machine on the longest wash cycle and set the highest temperature available. After washing properly, place it inside the dryer.

Make sure to set the drying cycle to the longest and the temperature setting to the highest available. Remember, how much a polyester garment will shrink depends on the heat setting. Polyester can handle heat pretty well, so you won’t see satisfactory shrinkage in the garment if the heat is not enough.

Will Polyester Fabric Shrink in Wash?

A high temperature helps shrink a polyester fabric. So, yes, washing a polyester fabric at a high heat will help shrink a polyester garment. However, if you want noticeable and satisfactory results, simply washing the garment at high temperatures might not be enough. So, I recommend drying the garment at high temperatures as well.

Will Polyester Fabric Shrink in Wash

One more thing is that if you are washing a 100% polyester fabric, a single washing and drying cycle might not be enough for satisfactory results. That’s why your garment will need to go through multiple washes and drying cycles at a hot temperature.

Lastly, I want to clarify that if you follow the proper instructions for cleaning a polyester garment and use cold water to wash it, your garment will not shrink. Similarly, if you dry it in a permanent press dry or dry it at a cool temperature, it will not have any impact on the size of the garment.

So, whether a polyester garment will shrink in the wash will primarily depend on the temperature settings of the wash.

Can You Shrink Polyester?

Yes, you can shrink polyester. Though polyester has shrink-resistant properties, high heat can cause a polyester garment to shrink. Not only 100% polyester, but blends like cotton-polyester can also slightly shrink under the right conditions.

Can You Shrink Polyester

If you want to shrink a polyester garment to quite a satisfactory size, you need to spend some time patiently washing, drying, and ironing. Since polyester resists shrinkage, you need to wash and dry a polyester garment in hot temperatures, multiple times. For further results, you may need to iron the garment.

How Much Does Polyester Shrink?

When it comes to shrinking polyester using hot temperatures, there is no fixed shrink percentage. How much a polyester garment will shrink depends on the heat setting of the dryer. Time is also important here. Lower temperatures will have little impact on the size of a polyester garment.

How Much Does Polyester Shrink

To shrink the garment to a noticeable size, you need to increase the temperature and keep the garment longer in the washer and dryer. You will need to repeat the process sometimes.

Some practical experiments on polyester garments show that the size shrank to a noticeable size after multiple washes and dries, but not to the extent that they would turn from large sizes to tiny ones.

Read Next: Article Can I dye polyester fabrics

How to Shrink Polyester: Different Ways & Step by Step

Shrinking a polyester garment requires some time, effort, and of course, patience. Now, I’m going to talk about different ways to shrink polyester garments.

How to Shrink Polyester

However, some methods are connected to others. Let’s take a look:

Method 1: Shrink Polyester in the Washing Machine

Step 1: Turning the Polyester Garment Inside Out

This is the first step to shrinking a polyester garment. Before you get started, keep in mind that shrinking polyester means heating the garment enough that its fibers tighten and the cloth gets shrunk as a result.

Heating the cloth at high temperatures helps shrink it, but it can damage the colors as well. Prepare to accept some color fading since you plan to shrink the garment. But your objective should be to reduce the loss as much as possible. That’s why to turn the cloth inside out to reduce some damage.

Tip: Don’t put multiple polyester cloths inside the washing machine together if you intend to shrink them. Since the clothes can bleed colors, they may stain others.

Step 2: Washing the Polyester Clothes at High Heat

To achieve a more shrinkage rate, you need to set the water temperatures to a very hot setting. The clothes should go through a hot wash and rinse cycle in the washing machine. Plus, make sure you put the clothes in the longest washing cycle.

The water temperature should not be less than 60 degrees Centigrade (140 °F). If you intend to shrink the clothes and wash them at the same time, you can pour some detergent into the water. But if you want to simply shrink the polyester clothes, adding detergent is not necessary.

Simply throwing the garment inside a washing machine might not be enough. As I said earlier, some methods are connected to others, that’s why, to get noticeable results, you need to dry the cloth in a dryer after washing. So, put the garment inside the dryer straightaway.

Method 2: Use a Dryer to Shrink Polyester

Set the highest temperature available in your dryer and set the drying cycle to the longest one. The heat inside the dryer remains confined in a small space and helps the polyester garment shrink. After drying, let it rest.

When the garment cools down, see how much it has shrunk. If the shrink percentage is not satisfactory, you may repeat methods 1 and 2, but be mindful of fading colors. Washing, again and again, can affect the color of the garment.

Method 3: Use Hot Water and an Iron

Step 1: Washing the Garment in Hot Water

Firstly, it’s almost like method 1 except you don’t need to throw the garments in the dryer afterward. You simply need to wash and rinse the garment at the highest temperatures available in your washing machine. Adjust the wash cycle to the longest one available. And don’t forget to turn the garment inside out before throwing it into the washing machine.

Step 2: Preparing the Garment for Ironing

After washing, keep the garment inside out and place it on an ironing board straightaway. Don’t wait for it to dry.

Keep in mind that ironing can damage your garment, so don’t forget to use a pressing cloth before ironing. Simply lay it over your polyester garment.

Step 3: Ironing the Wet Garment

Set the iron temperature between low to medium heat. Your goal is to dry the garment, so you don’t need to use steam in this case. Stop ironing when the garment dries.

Unlike methods 1 and 2, don’t repeat ironing if you are still not satisfied with the size of the garment. Because after going through all those washing and drying, probably it has reached the smallest size possible.

How to Shrink Cotton Polyester Blend?

Shrinking a pure cotton garment is quite easy. The funny thing is that if you don’t follow the proper washing instructions, the garment may shrink automatically after washing, even if you don’t want it to.

However, a cotton polyester blend won’t shrink the same way, especially when there are different cotton and polyester ratios available, for example, 50%-50%, 80%-20%, and so on. And one thing to keep in mind is that polyester is added in a cotton polyester blend so that it can reduce shrinkage.

So, the more polyester in the cotton polyester blend, the harder it is to shrink it. Nevertheless, I previously talked about shrinking 100% polyester, so shrinking a cotton polyester blend is also possible. Here are the steps to shrink a cotton polyester blend:

Step 1: Machine Washing

Load the garment into the washing machine. Adjust the temperature to the hottest cycle available. Make sure to wash thoroughly.

Step 2: Drying to Shrink

Set the heat setting of the dryer to the highest available. Let the garment dry. After drying, load the garment into the washing machine and repeat Step 1.

Step 3: Ironing the Garment

After washing, place the wet garment on the ironing table. Iron it until it dries. Be mindful of the temperature settings, because you don’t want to damage the garment with excessive heat.

Step 4: Boiling the Garment

If all those steps above didn’t shrink the garment to a satisfactory level, you need to boil the garment in a pot. A pressure cooker will be a better option for this.

Disclaimer: Try to avoid boiling the garment or put inside the pressure cooker because your garment can get damaged. You can opt for this as the last option if none of the steps make satisfactory results.

Step 5: Ironing the Garment Again

After boiling the garment, repeat step 3. That means you will need to iron the cotton polyester blend in a proper way.

How to Shrink a Polyester Jacket?

The procedure for shrinking a polyester jacket will not be different from the procedures that I have talked about so far. As you already know that polyester can be shrunk at high temperatures, so washing and drying it at high heat will be a good option.

How to Shrink a Polyester Jacket

Step 1: Washing the Jacket at High Temperatures

Load the jacket into the washing machine and wash it at the highest temperature available, and adjust the washing cycle to the longest one. Make sure you turn your jacket inside out to reduce color fading.

Step 2: Drying at High Temperatures

Load the wet jacket into the dryer immediately after washing. Set the temperature to the highest level possible and the drying cycle to the longest one. Let the jacket dry inside.

Examine it after it dries. If the size doesn’t seem satisfactory, repeat steps 1 and 2 a couple of more times. But be mindful of the damage that can be caused due to washing and drying the jacket excessively.

Step 3: Ironing the Wet Jacket

If the shrinkage doesn’t seem satisfactory after washing and drying, opt for ironing the jacket. Repeat step 1 first. Place the jacket on the ironing board immediately after washing.

To protect the jacket from getting damaged, consider laying a pressing cloth over it. Now, iron the jacket at low to medium heat. Even if the jacket’s size appears unsatisfactory after ironing, don’t repeat ironing.

How to Shrink a Polyester Jersey?

There are two easy steps to shrink a polyester jersey; quite similar to other polyester garments.

How to Shrink a Polyester Jersey
  • Wash the jersey at a high temperature in the washing machine.
  • Dry the jersey inside the dryer at high temperatures. Repeat the process a few more times if the size of the jersey doesn’t seem satisfactory.

How to Shrink Polyester Shirt?

The procedure for shrinking a polyester shirt is the same as shrinking a polyester jersey. However, you can keep these things in mind to get better results. These tips are also applicable to polyester jerseys.

How to Shrink Polyester Shirt
  • Turn the shirt or jacket inside out to reduce the impact of color bleeding.
  • The water temperature should be more than 140 °F (60 °C).
  • Ironing can cause some melt spots if the temperature is not set properly. Make sure to set the temperature to low or medium. And for further safety concerns, lay a pressing cloth over it before ironing.

How to Shrink Polyester Pants?

The procedure for shrinking different types of polyester garments is quite the same. However, some clothes are delicate, so sometimes, special care is required. But polyester pants can be shrunk like other regular polyester garments.

How to Shrink Polyester Pants

The heat should be high enough to tighten the polyester fibers. And the rest of the process remains the same as polyester jackets or shirts.

How to Care Shrunken Polyester Clothes & Garments?

Once your favorite polyester garment is shrunk to your desired size, you need to take some steps to preserve it. Your garment will get dirty over time, and you will need to wash it. However, you would not want to lose the color, size, or comfort after washing. That’s why keep these tips in mind to preserve your favorite polyester garment:

How to Care Shrunken Polyester Clothes

While washing the garment in the washing machine, make sure to select the “permanent press” setting.

  • To prevent fading, don’t forget to turn your shrunken polyester item inside out.
  • Set the washing temperature to a warm setting.
  • Dry the shrunken polyester garment at a low heat so that the item doesn’t shrink further. You can air-dry the garment as well.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to keep your polyester garment fresh and comfortable for a long time.

Final Words

There is no doubt that polyester is an excellent material for garments when it comes to resisting shrinkage. However, sometimes we want to shrink a fabric item intentionally. If that item is made of polyester, a person may be puzzled at first and think: is it possible to shrink polyester shrink?

In this article, I clarified that it is possible to shrink a polyester garment, even if it has 100% polyester. So, follow the methods I discussed to shrink your polyester clothes down to your desired size.

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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