Does Polyester Shrink?

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Yes. Polyester shrinks. But it’s relatively resistant to it.

Polyester is only prone to shrinking when blended with other fabrics such as cotton or linen.

It’s also likely to shrink when exposed to hot water. Polyester is heat pressed, making it more resistant to heat heat than other fibers. 

But when exposed to hot water, the moisture and heat combo may cause it to shrink.

Even under these conditions, 100% polyester will only shrink a small amount compared to other fabrics.

What Causes Polyester To Shrink?

Polyester fibers are resistant to shrinking. But they are not shrink-proof.

Polyester shrinks because of three reasons: 

 

Moisture 

Polyester slightly shrinks when exposed to moisture.

This type of shrinking is called relaxation shrinkage. 

Relaxation shrinkage shrinks the fabric by about less than one percent.

During production, polyester fibers are stretched. When you expose these fibers to moisture, the tension is released, and the fibers return to their original size.

 

Polyester-Blends

Felting shrinkage happens when you blend polyester with natural fibers such as wool.

When you expose the other fabric to heat or moisture, it will interlock with polyester. 

Interlocking causes the fibers to get thicker and shorter. As a result, the polyester blend fabric will experience shrinkage. 

Felting shrinkage shrinks the fabric upwards of 20%-25%, depending on the polyester blend. 

 

Heat

Consolidation shrinkage happens inside washers, dryers, or steamers. 

While polyester is pretty resistant to heat, the combination of excessive heat and water can cause it to shrink. 

At extreme temperatures, the combination of water and heat can cause the fibers to shrink. 

Does Polyester Shrink in The Washer?

Yes, polyester can shrink in the washer if you are using hot water.

Polyester will experience some shrinkage at temperatures of at least 140 degrees. But at temperatures of 155 and 175, polyester is more prone to shrinkage.

This means it will only shrink when you are using the hot water setting. Most washers reach between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit on the hot water setting.

This can cause mild shrinkage in polyester when washing.

At What Temperature Does Polyester Shrink?

Polyester experiences the most shrinkage between 155 and 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

But it will experience shrinkage as low as 140 degrees.

Your polyester can experience this level of heat in the washer and the dryer.

On the hot water setting, washers can reach temperatures between 130 and 140.

Likewise, on the high heat setting, newer dryers can reach temperatures greater than 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Does Polyester Shrink in The Dryer?

Yes, polyester can shrink in the dryer. On the high setting of a dryer, polyester will shrink.

Polyester will experience shrinkage around 140 degrees, and dryers can reach temperatures greater than 150 degrees.

The temperature of a dryer may vary on the model and how old it is. Some older models can reach around 125 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. But newer models can reach temperatures greater than 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

In some cases, some dryers were able to reach temperatures as high as 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Much Does Polyester Shrink?

Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is generally resistant to shrinkage.

In most cases, 100% polyester will only shrink less than 5%.

This amount of shrinkage often goes unnoticed.

Polyester blends, on the other hand, are more prone to shrinkage.

The amount of shrinkage will depend on the blend.

If polyester is blended with a fabric that is prone to shrinkage, such as cotton, it will still shrink significantly.

Typically, polyester will reduce the amount of shrinkage fabric experiences by one third to one half of the non-blended amount.

How To Shrink Polyester?​

Thinking about shrinking that polyester to the perfect size? Below are three easy ways you can!

 

Boiling Water

I would say that this technique is my favorite. It’s pretty effortless. 

Here’s how:

  1. Prepare boiling water in the tub or container. Make sure the tub is not filled up to the brim to give space for the fabric.
  2. Reverse the polyester garment.
  3. Soak the polyester garment in boiling water. 
  4. Let sit for at least an hour.
  5. Repeat the process until you achieve the ideal size

Dryer

  1. Turn your garment inside out. 
  2. Group your polyester based on color to prevent colors from bleeding to each other.
  3. Wash your polyester at around 140°F
  4. Dry it at the highest temperature in the dryer.
  5. Let it cool down. Repeat the process if you want it to shrink some more.

Iron

  1. Spread a soft cloth on your ironing board
  2. Wash the fabric
  3. Dry it, but not all the way. It needs to be damp to achieve significant results
  4. Turn the fabric inside out. 
  5. Place the material on the board. 
  6. Place a cotton cloth on top of the fabric.
  7.  Set the iron at a low or medium setting.

How To Care for Polyester After Shrinking?

Take the necessary steps to protect your polyester once you’ve shrunk it to the perfect size. Make sure you:

  • Wash your garment in cool to warm mode. Never use hot water. 
  • Hand wash your polyester fabrics. If you can’t, select the gentle wash cycle.
  • Reverse the fabric before washing.
  • Air dry the polyester fabric. If you have to use a dryer, keep it on low heat. It also helps if you place your garment in a laundry bag before putting it in the dryer.
  • Use fabric softeners.
  • Don’t iron your garment. To keep the fabric wrinkle-free, hang it as soon as it comes out of the dryer. If you must iron, place a cotton fabric between the polyester fabric and the iron. 

How To Shrink Pure Polyester?

Pure polyester fabrics are pretty resistant to shrinking. But that doesn’t mean they don’t shrink.

The best way to shrink 100% polyester is by washing and drying them in high heat.

You can soak your polyester in boiling water. Just be careful not to overdo it as you may ruin the color and the fabric.

What is The Best Method To Shrink Polyester?

Heat and moisture is the easiest way to shrink your polyester garment.

This combo can shrink even 100% polyester fabrics,

To do this, you will need the least temperature of 140°F.
You may also have to repeat the treatment process a few times to see the desired results.

To have both heat and moisture, wash and dry your polyester in high-temperature settings.

Does Polyester Shrink When Dry Cleaned?

Polyester typically will not shrink when dry cleaned. Polyester does not require dry cleaning because it’s resistant to shrinkage and wrinkles. This makes it less useful.

Typically, when dry cleaning temperatures reach around 120 – 140 degrees.

This may result in minor shrinkage.

Does Polyester Shrink More Than Cotton?

No, cotton shrinks much more than cotton. Polyester is intended to be shrink resistant. 

Cotton is one fabric that is highly prone to shrinking and stretching.

A  polyester-cotton blend will shrink more than a pure polyester blend.

It won’t shrink as much as 100% cotton. This blend of cotton will typically increase shrinkage by about 5% – 10% compared to 100% polyester. 

Conclusion

Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Taking care of your polyester doesn’t have to be intimidating or frustrating.

You now have all the information you need to shrink your polyester to the perfect size or keep it from shrinking.

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