does polyester shrink

Does Polyester Shrink? 3 Ways to Shrink Polyester

Polyester is a well-liked fabric that is suitable for a wide range of uses. It was first invented in the early 1940s and began to gain popularity several decades later. Today, it competes with other popular fabrics such as cotton, linen and viscose in clothes-making and other areas that give meaning to its usefulness.

Does Polyester Shrink?

You might be concerned if your polyester garments will shrink after washing and tossing them in the dryer. Well, polyester is synthetic manmade material that is unlike natural fabrics such as cotton and linen. Accordingly, it does not shrink under normal washing and drying conditions.

Generally, it maintains its original shape and size, and in most cases, it does not require ironing after washing. All the same, it is important to note that 100% polyester does not behave in the same way as 50/50 blended polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyester that is blended with shrinkage prone fabric will definitely respond better to shrinkage under favorable conditions.

Summary: Pure polyester does not shrink under normal washing and drying conditions. It shrinks if subjected to high temperatures during washing and drying.

How to Shrink Polyester

In this age of online shopping, the need to shrink polyester cannot ruled out. It is normal to buy a garment that does not give a proper fit despite choosing the right sizing dimensions. The problem is mostly caused by significant variations in the sizing charts of different stores and countries.

There are three reliable methods for shrinking polyester and all of them depend on Heat

Method 1: Washing Machine and Dryer

Normally, polyester garments come with a tag that provides instructions on whether to use a washing machine and dryer. The tag also provides instructions on how these machines should be used. If followed, the guide is an idea way for ensuring that the garments release dirt without losing shape or color. Causing shrinkage requires that these instructions be ignored.

What You Will Need

  • Clean garments
  • A washing machine
  • A dryer


Step 1: Turn your polyester garments inside out to control fading. Ideally, your clothes might end up loosing some color because hot water is harsh for almost all kinds of fabric.

Step 2: Put one or more polyester garments of the same color into a washing machine, choose the hottest water setting and wash in a long cycle. You do not need to add any detergents unless your garments are dirty. Ideally, it is best to work with clean garments because a solution of hot water and detergent might increase the chances of color bleeding.

Step 3: Rinse in extremely hot water and transfer to a tumble dryer.

Step 4: Choose the hottest heat setting and dry in a long cycle.

Step 5: If need be, repeat the procedure to achieve more shrinkage.

Method 2: How to Shrink Polyester with Ironing

Although ironing is not always necessary for polyester, it comes in handy when the need to achieve shrinkage arises. The mechanism of action for ironing is to subject polyester to extreme heat so that the fabric fibers can respond accordingly.

What You Will Need

  • Clean garments
  • Washing machine
  • Iron box
  • Ironing board
  • Pressing Cloth


Step 1: Turn your garments inside out and transfer them into a washing machine

Step 2: Choose the hottest water setting and wash in the longest cycle possible. Soak the garment in extremely hot water for 30 minutes to one hour if you do not have a washing machine.

Step 3: Rise the garment and spread it well on an ironing board.

Step 4: Cover every part of the garment with a pressing cloth. The role of the pressing cloth is to protect the polyester garment from heat damage. Polyester material becomes hard and begins to fold on some parts if subjected to excess ironing heat.

Step 5: Iron with low to medium heat until the garment is completely dry.

Method 3: Boiling Water

For people that do not have a washing machine, dryer or an iron box, boiled water is the way to go. It works in the same way as the methods listed above, and carries the same risks.

What You Will Need


Step 1: Put clean water in a large pot and let it boil

Step 2: Transfer the water into a bucket and place your clean garment inside. Cover with an airtight lid and leave the garment inside until the water cools off.

Step 3: Wring out excess water from the garment and hang it on the clothesline for sun-drying.

Does Polyester Stretch? (Is polyester Stretchy?)

If you are not wondering whether polyester shrinks, your concern might be it stretching capabilities. The answer is yes! Generally, polyester stretches but the extent to which this happens depends on factors such as density and the blended materials. For example, polyester that is blended with materials such as rayon and spandex is stretchier compared to 100% polyester.

Polyester stretches to allow proper fitting but the material bounces back to the original size and shape once the garment is taken off.

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