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Does Polyester Shrink?

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Short answer, yes, polyester does shrink; most fabrics will shrink if they are exposed to heat, cold or contact with acids or alkalis. And just about all of the clothes we wear are made from fabrics that do shrink or are prone to shrinking when exposed to those elements. As you’ll see, however, there are some types of fabrics that shrink more than others and some that are less likely to shrink at all.

What is meant by polyester?

Polyester is a man-made fiber commonly used in synthetic clothing, upholstery fabrics, and bags. If your item is labeled as 100% polyester, it means that all of its fibers are polyester. That doesn’t mean that it’s made of only one type of polyester, though; some fabrics may be blends containing other materials like cotton or spandex. To know whether an item is truly 100% polyester—and if so, how to take care of it—you’ll have to read its tag or talk to a customer service representative.

What happens if you put polyester in the dryer?

To understand the answer to that question, we need to talk about the shrinkage rate of polyester versus other types of fabrics. Polyester is a type of synthetic fiber made from chemical compounds that are semi-permeable. This quality makes it more susceptible to shrinking and tangling than natural fibers like cotton. Heat, agitation and friction all affect the shrinking rate.

When you put polyester in the dryer, friction and heat cause shrinkage along with a tangle around itself. The reason is because its threads don’t move smoothly along each other like natural fibers do when they shrink – they tug and bunch up together. As you can imagine, putting it in the dryer (heat + agitation) can cause some major changes.

At what temperature does polyester shrink?

Every fabric shrinks at a different temperature, with polyester usually shrinking around 122 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that if you are worried about shrinkage, you should wash and dry your garment prior to wearing it, or hang it and let it cool off for a few hours before putting it on. However, as you probably know, your washing machine isn’t quite that hot.

But there is something worse than waiting until your polyester garment has cooled down — something called synthetic shrinkage. What is synthetic shrinkage? Synthetic shrinkage refers to what happens when garments made of synthetic fibers are exposed to heat before they have been washed or dried.

Does polyester shrink or stretch?

When considering a fabric for a new clothing project, it is important to understand that not all fabrics behave in identical ways. Most people, when shopping for fabric, do not typically have a thorough understanding of how different fabrics are constructed and what properties to expect from them.

In short, polyester fibers are not stretchy and it is very difficult to get much stretch out of polyester clothing. If you want your finished garment to stretch, you will need to add Lycra or spandex, which can be done during manufacture or by applying it at home after laundering. Otherwise, your clothes will end up baggy and shapeless rather than tight-fitting and comfortable. Avoid polyester if comfort is what you’re looking for!

How do you Unshrink polyester?

One option for unwrinkling polyester is to heat up your garment with a clothing steamer. This will work if you have a few small wrinkles or creases, but you shouldn’t try to completely remove them. If you do, your garment could lose its shape. When it comes to large wrinkles, you’ll need to iron out your clothes by hand. Just be sure not to directly place an iron on polyester; while most fabrics can take it, polyester isn’t one of them. Instead, place a soft cloth over where you’re planning on placing your iron and use that as a buffer zone between your iron and your shirt fabric.

What are the best ways to care for polyester clothes?

If you have polyester clothes, you need to know how to care for them. Polyester is a synthetic fiber that can be woven into various fabrics. Polyester fibers are usually mixed with other fibers such as cotton or wool. The mixture of fibers gives the fabric a soft, luxurious feel.

Polyester is used in clothing items because it is easy to care for and dries quickly. It can be washed in hot wash water or warm wash and dried in a clothes dryer without shrinking or fading.

The biggest problem with polyester is that it does not breathe well. This means that it can make you feel hot and sweaty. If you wear polyester clothes in the summer, you may want to consider cotton fabrics instead.

How do you shrink polyester in the dryer?

Soak the polyester before you toss it in the dryer. Get a bucket of warm water, dip your polyester clothes in, wait five minutes and then toss them in the dryer on high heat. Some shrinkage will be noticeable even if you don’t take any other steps to reduce shrinkage. The water acts as a lubricant between the fibers, making the polyester less likely to bunch up and pill as it’s worn. It also keeps your clothes from shrinking unevenly by allowing each fiber to move independently of one another during drying.

How do you shrink polyester in the dryer?

The biggest con of polyester fabric is its limited durability. Although polyester fiber itself doesn’t break down, clothes made from it often don’t hold up as well as other types of clothing. If you take care to wash and dry your polyester garments properly, you can significantly extend their life.

Be sure to wash new polyester items with like colors and use detergent that specifically mentions color-safe on its packaging. Always follow garment instructions for washing and drying, including any instructions printed on a hang tag or sewn into a seam. The best way to reduce wrinkles and keep your clothes looking newer longer is to remove them from your washer or dryer immediately after washing.


Polyester does shrink, but only if you put it in hot water or dry it using an extremely high heat. If you iron polyester garments on low heat, you’ll likely see no change whatsoever in fit or shape. Plus, polyester is a great insulator that works to regulate your body temperature. So even if polyester does shrink, it probably won’t be by much and won’t cause any discomfort. Overall, polyester is quite resilient and withstands a number of stressors without breaking down or losing its color—so your polyester clothing will keep looking fresh no matter how many times you wash it!


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