How to Shrink Polyester Clothing in the Washing or Dryer? Easy Ways

How to Shrink Polyester

Shrinking polyester is difficult. But we can’t say it is impossible. By design, synthetic fabrics don’t shrink. However, we can make a polyester garment smaller if needed.

The most common methods include using a washing machine or a dryer on high heat to shrink polyester. A clothes iron will also work. But it can melt the fabric. So be careful while trying out this method.

Each technique of shrinking polyester has pros and cons. Keep on reading to know how to shrink polyester in the best way.

Does Polyester Shrink?

No, polyester does not shrink under normal conditions. The reason is that polyester is made of synthetic fibers. And synthetic fibers resist shrinkage. These are in direct contrast to all other natural fibers like cotton and linen.

How and Why Does Polyester Shrink?

By nature, polyester resists shrinkage as it is made of synthetic fibers. But in some cases, it shrinks.

It will shrink if you wash polyester with hot water or iron polyester with excessive heat iron. The reason is that it is an artificial fabric that is made with polymer. Polyester will also shrink if you soak it for too long and dry in a hot dryer. 

Method 1: Washer and Dryer Method for Shrinking Polyester

Polyester is a durable material. It resists shrinkage. But you can shrink clothing made of polyester by the following method. 

  • Turn your garment inside-out. High heat can fade the colors of your fabric. Moreover, do not wash multiple garments together. 
  • Wash the garment in extremely hot water. Select the hottest water setting and the longest wash cycle on your washing machine. It would be best to use both a hot wash and a hot rinse. The reason is that hot water is much more effective for shrinking polyester than cold water. The ideal water temperature is at least 140 °F (60 °C). You can also add detergent to the washing machine. 
  • Transfer the garment to the dryer immediately. Dry the polyester fabric using the hottest heat setting. Select the longest drying cycle.
  • In the end, take your clothes out of the dryer and let them cool to room temperature. If additional shrinkage is necessary, repeat the washing and drying steps to reduce the size.

Method 2: Electronic Iron For Shrinking Polyester

  1. Wash the garment with hot water. Select the hottest water setting and the longest wash cycle on your washing machine.
  2. After the washing cycle finishes, please take out the polyester garment from the washing machine. Transfer your clothes to an ironing board. Make sure that the garment is inside-out to reduce the risk of fading.
  3. Lay a pressing cloth over the garment. The cloth should completely cover your garment. It will prevent the iron from damaging your clothing.
  4. Iron on a low to medium heat setting. Keeping the lower setting will prevent the polyester from becoming too stiff. Pass the iron over the entire cloth. Continue ironing the fabric until it is completely dried.
  5. Examine the finished garment for shrinkage.

Shrinking a Polyester Blend Garment

Suppose your garment care label says polyester blend on it. It means that it nearly contains equal amounts of polyester and cotton fibers. This material is easier to shrink than 100% polyester. You will need the following things to shrink a polyester blend garment:

  • Washing machine
  • Clothesline
  • Clothes dryer

Before shrinking, remove the old oil stains from polyester clothes. 

Turn the clothing inside out. Place the fabric in the washing machine. Select the hot wash and hot rinse settings.

If you are shrinking dirty clothing, add a laundry detergent in the recommended amount. Otherwise, you can use plain water.

After washing, remove the polyester blend clothing from the washing machine. Hang the washed fabric on a clothesline to dry. 

Place the garment in a dryer on the high heat setting if you prefer more shrinkage. Check the material periodically during the drying process to ensure it does not shrink too much.

Minimal Polyester Shrinking

Minimal Polyester Shrinking

Suppose your polyester clothing needs minimal shrinkage. A simple wash and dry in the washing machine and clothes dryer does your task. If the garment isn’t dirty, do not use laundry detergent. You will need the following things to shrink a polyester blend garment:

  • Washing machine
  • Clothes dryer

Place the polyester fabric into the washing machine. Please set it to the warm water wash cycle. Run the cycle to the end. After washing, place the garment in the dryer and run it on the medium heat dry cycle.

A medium setting for both the washer and dryer is suitable for minimal shrinkage. Check the piece of clothing for proper shrinkage after completing the process.

Moderate Polyester Shrinkage

If the polyester is not blended with cotton, you need to use higher heat temperatures for optimal shrinkage. You will need the following things to shrink a polyester blend garment:

  • Washing machine
  • Clothes dryer

If you are washing fabrics on high heat, turn the clothing inside out. It will prevent bleeding or fading of the material. Place the polyester fabric into the washing machine. Set the setting to high heat for wash and rinse stages. Use the most extended wash cycle. You can add laundry detergent if the clothing is dirty.

When the washing time finishes, place the fabric on the hottest setting in the dryer. Check the clothing for shrinkage. If it is still not the right size, try shrinking it with an iron at the hottest temperature.

How much will Polyester Shrink?

The amount a polyester fabric can shrink depends on the blend of polyester it contains. If you have 100% polyester, the shrinkage will be minimal. It is because polyester is essentially plastic. And it resists shrinking.

Advantages and disadvantages shrink polyester

Here are some advantages of polyester fabric:

  • Low cost 
  • Durability
  • Elasticity
  • Versatility
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Heat Resistant
  • Mildew and Chemical Resistant
  • Weather Resistant
  • UV/Light Resistant
  • Easy Care
  • Comfort

Here are some disadvantages of polyester fabric:

  • Lack of Breathability
  • Lack of Moisture Absorption
  • Flammability
  • Holds Odors

FAQ – How to Shrink Polyester

Maximum Polyester Shrinkage with a Clothes Iron


High heat is the best way to shrink polyester. The reason is that it is a synthetic fiber that resists shrinkage. You can try ironing with high temperatures to get the maximum shrinkage possible from your clothing.

Turn the clothing inside out. Put it in the washing machine. Select the hottest water setting and the longest wash cycle on your washing machine. Once the washing cycle is done, lay the clothing on an ironing board.

Place a pressing cloth over the polyester. Use the iron on low to medium heat. Iron the fabric without using steam until it is dry. Inspect the fabric to ensure it is the proper fit.

Maximum Polyester Shrinkage with a Clothes Iron

How to Shrink a Polyester Shirt with Boiling Water


1. A hot wash is the most effective way to shrink a polyester fabric. In this process, the high heat of the boiling water breaks down the polyester fibers that cause shrinking. Here is the complete method to shrink a polyester shirt by boiling it in hot water.

2. Fill a large stockpot with clean water. Bring it to a boil. Then remove it from the heat. 

3. Use a pair of tongs to carefully place the polyester shirt into the water to avoid burning your hands. Leave the cloth in the water for about seven minutes. 

4. Before wringing the cloth to remove excess water, allow it to cool at room temperature.

5. Lay the shirt out to air dry. You can also place it in a clothes dryer on high heat for further shrinkage. You can repeat the process if the material does not shrink enough.

How to Care for Polyester after Shrinking


Once your polyester garment is shrunk to the perfect size, there are specific measures to take while washing and drying to ensure that your clothing remains vibrant, soft, and comfortable.

For future polyester washing, use the permanent press setting on your washing machine. This wash cycle cools the fabric before spinning, which prevents wrinkles. Always turn your garments inside out before washing to prevent fading or bleeding.

Wash the polyester fabric using a warm setting on your washing machine. Coldwater does not get material as clean, and hot water causes further shrinkage.

Dry the polyester on low heat to prevent more shrinkage. You can hang the wet garment on a clothesline to air dry.

Caring for the Polyester Washing Instruction


Here are some instructions for washing polyester fabric:

1. Read the instructions on clothing before throwing it into the washing machine. Always read the polyester garment label for proper care instructions.

2. If you wash polyester in the dry cleaner, set the machine to the normal cycle. It would be best to hand wash your polyester with cold or lukewarm water. It is also important to avoid the use of harsh detergents when washing the polyester.

3. Turn your polyester inside out while washing or drying. After washing, hang the wet garment to dry in the open.

4. Avoid using hot water to wash or excessive heat to iron the polyester fabric. It can cause the material to harden up and begin to shrink. Extreme heat can also damage the color.

5. Polyester absorbs oil. Therefore, do not wash your polyester with grease or oil-stained clothes. Always wash polyester fabrics separately if possible.

6. Do not soak polyester for too long in washing solutions. It will affect the color of the fabric and cause it to age faster.

7. It may shrink if you leave the polyester in the dryer for too long. So, it is important to remove your fabric from the dryer as soon as possible. It will prevent them from wrinkling. It will save the time of ironing your polyester fabrics.

8. Some iron comes with a polyester setting. If not, you can use the nylon setting. 

9. Consider pressing your polyester inside out. It will prevent direct contact with the iron plate.

Some of the Problems Associated with Polyester


Here are some problems associated with polyester and polyester fabric blends:

1. It is difficult to press the polyester fabric. The reason is that you figure out that the edges begin to curl after a while.

2. Polyester is difficult to sew. The needle of the sewing machine plate finds it difficult to drag the thread through the thin fiber like polyester. 

3. Polyester fabrics are not breathable. Therefore, it is difficult to wear in hot climates. It also retains oil and stains, which are difficult to wash off.

Does Boiling water Shrink Polyester


Yes, you can shrink polyester with boiling water. In this process, the high heat of the boiling water breaks down the polyester fibers that cause shrinking.

How do you Drastically Shrink Polyester


Polyester is made from synthetic fiber that resists shrinkage. So you can not drastically shrink the polyester fabric. However, boiling water can reduce its size. You can give this process a try at home. 

How do you Drastically Shrink Polyester

How can I shrink a medium 50 polyester 25 cotton and 25 rayon long Sleeved Graphic Shirt to a Small


If the shirt has 50% polyester, you can’t shrink it much. You can try washing your shirt in very hot water. After washing, dry it at the highest heat setting.

Overview – How to Shrink Polyester

Polyester is a synthetic fabric. It is known for its immunity to shrinking. It is possible to shrink the polyester using maximum heat. Usually, a blend of polyester is easier to shrink. But, you can use the above-listed methods to shrink 100% polyester. The best thing to shrink polyester is the combination of a washing machine and dryer with high heat. Read about best ways to sanitize your table.

Leave a Comment