How to Effectively Shrink Polyester: 4 Methods

Polyester is a well-known fabric that is incredibly resilient and wrinkle-resistant. Because the material is not only inexpensive but also simple to care for, it is one of the most widely used synthetic fabrics.

100% Polyester

Fabrics, including polyester fabrics, can be deliberately shrunk to reduce their sizes, even though polyester fabrics typically do not shrink very much under normal settings.

However, blending with a natural fabric tends to cause it to shrink more than it would otherwise.

Different Ways to Shrink Polyester

You might need to shrink your fabric if you’ve lost weight and noticed that your polyester clothes no longer fit as they used to, or it may be that the polyester clothes you ordered are too big for you.

But before using any of the methods below to shrink your polyester, you should know whether your clothing is a pure polyester type or a polyester blend, as pure polyester can withstand more heat than the blended fabric type. 

Polyester fabric comes with its care label, giving you washing techniques and drying instructions so it can better resist shrinkage. But what you want is for shrinkage to occur.

So, you should not follow the care label on the fabric.

It’s easy to prevent your fabrics from shrinking when you’re intentional about it. However, if you want your polyester to shrink, it is also easy if you do the opposite of what the care label says.

1. Shrink Polyester By Washing it in the Washing Machine

Washing Machine

An effective way to shrink polyester fabric is to wash it in the washing machine. This method is advantageous as it helps you avoid any human error that could permanently damage the clothes.

To go about it the right way, do this:

2. Shrink Polyester Fabric Using A Hot Dryer

Using a hot dryer is another way to shrink your polyester fabric, but this takes place after you wash the fabric.

Applying heat is an excellent way to shrink polyester; extreme heat. You just need to set your dryer to the highest heat setting and the most extended drying cycle.

When clothes are dried for an extended period, they often shrink. The heat and tumbling motion in the dryer shortens the cloth’s fibers, making the fabric appear thinner and smaller. 

After this, you can bring the fabric out of the dryer and let it cool to room temperature to check if you have gotten the perfectly shrunk polyester clothing you want.

3. Shrink Polyester Fabric By Ironing

Iron and Laundry Basket

After hot washing your polyester and moving it to your ironing board, ensure it is turned inside out to minimize the risk of fading. Although polyester is fade-resistant, it’s still good to be cautious to prevent damage.

Then, lay a pressing cloth over the polyester fabric to prevent the burning of the fabric or any other heat damage.

Set your iron’s heat on low to medium heat and iron over the laid cloth until the washed polyester fabric dries; then, the fabric will have shrunk.

4. Shrink Polyester By Soaking It In Hot Water

Another easy and efficient way to shrink your polyester fabric is to soak it in hot water. You only need heated water if you don’t have a washing machine, hot dryer, or iron.

  • Soak your polyester fabric in a bucket of hot water. If the hot water becomes cold or lukewarm, you should repeat the entire process.
  • By the third to fourth time, you will have noticed a significant shrinking of your polyester fabric, and you can stop soaking it in hot water by the time you are satisfied with the new size.

How to Shrink Polyester-Spandex Blend


The polyester and spandex blend is versatile and similar to the pure polyester fabric; it can also shrink when you actively try to shrink it.

A polyester-spandex blend fabric can shrink even more than pure polyester upon exposure to a very high degree of heat, but this varies based on the proportion of the polyester-spandex fabric.

If you would like to shrink your polyester and spandex blend; then you can try any of these methods:

  • Wash And Dry At Very High Temperatures

Applying high heat is a very efficient way to shrink your polyester-spandex fabric.

Put the polyester-spandex blend in the washing machine to undergo a very hot wash; then, you can transfer the fabric to a hot dryer for drying.

Set the dryer to the maximum heat available; after all these, you should rest assured that the fabric will have shrunk.

Be careful during this process because polyester blends shrink at a temperature lesser than pure polyester fabric will.

Then, repeat the process until the fabric has shrunk to your desired size.

  • Iron After Wash

You can also shrink the polyester-spandex fabric blend by ironing after washing with water, especially if you need more shrinkage than what the washing machine and dryer can offer.

After washing the fabric with hot water, lay it on your ironing board with a cloth over it to avoid stains, shiny spots, and scorching.

Then, set the maximum heat setting on your iron and iron the fabric until the polyester-spandex blend is completely dried. 

By then, there would have been a noticeable change in size.

How To Shrink Polyester-Cotton Blend

Cotton, a cellulose-based natural fiber, shrinks when subjected to high temperatures. However, polyester is not a cellulosic fabric, and this synthetic material can undergo chemical changes at temperatures above 176° Fahrenheit, causing it to shrink.

The degree to which one can shrink these fabrics increases when they are merged into a single cloth.

Put it in the dryer with some fabric softener to shrink the cloth. Then, dry the fabric at the highest possible setting for at least 15 minutes—all fibers, whether cotton or polyester, will shrink even more in the dryer.

Does Polyester Shrink In Cold Water?

Contrary to popular opinion, cold water has little or no effect on the size of the polyester and can’t effectively shrink the fabric. Polyester fabric is a synthetic type, and it is manufactured to resist shrinkage under normal conditions.

But when a high degree of heat is involved, this can cause shrinkage in polyester; therefore, hot water is the better choice of water to go for when you want to shrink polyester.

The hot water should be about 140° Fahrenheit so that the heat will be strong enough to break down the polyester fibers slightly to cause shrinkage of the polyester fabric. 

In addition, washing polyester in cold water has numerous benefits, including minimizing color fading, effectively removing stains, reducing wrinkling, and being environmentally friendly.

It saves energy by making the clothes less likely to shrink and last longer.

You should ensure that you work in a way so as not to damage the fabric but get it to shrink in size; anything you’re doing should be done in moderation to avoid damaging your polyester fabric.

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