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Does Fleece Shrink?
Jessica QuiltNCo
Posted by
Updated on
August 31, 2023
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

Does Fleece Shrink? Everything You Need To Know

If you just purchased a new fleece sweatshirt or looking to sew with fleece, you are probably wondering if it shrinks. Unfortunately, the answer is not as clear cut as I would like. Since fleece is a synthetic fabric, the quality and materials can vary. This affects weather fleece will shrink or not.

Fleece made with PET is prone to much less shrinkage, while fleece made with other synthetic materials are prone to more shrinkage. In most cases, fleece is less prone to shrinkage than other materials such as cotton or linen.

Heat is the main reason fleece shrinks.  Washing fleece in hot water or drying it at a high temperature can cause fleece to shrink.

The best way to avoid shrinking fleece is to purchase PET or polyester fleece and avoid using high temperatures when washing or drying.

What Is Fleece?

Fleece is an artificial fabric made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of polyester. It can also be made with other synthetic fibers, but it’s commonly made with polyester. These fibers are weaved together to make a light fabric.

The fibers are then brushed to add volume. This process is crucial to giving fleece that light and warm feel.

The fabric is perfect during cold weather or trips outdoors. It’s a breathable and quick-drying material that permits moisture to escape, making it suitable for sports apparel.

This fabric is also a low-priced alternative for wool. They also make this material out of reusable plastic, making it sustainable and eco-friendly. Sometimes, fleece is blended with other natural fibers like wool hemp and rayon to increase the texture and make the fabric more vibrant.

Does Polyester Fleece Shrink?

Polyester Fleece does not shrink. One of the main reasons polyester is blended with other materials is reducing shrinkage and increasing durability.

With that said, polyester fleece will shrink when exposed to high temperatures. Polyester fleece will shrink when exposed to temperatures greater than 155 degrees. If fleece polyester is exposed to temperatures greater than 180 degrees, it can cause permanent damage to the fabric.

To avoid shrinking polyester fleece, avoid drying on high heat or washing using hot water.

Fleece Fabric

Do You Need To Pre-Shrink A Fleece Fabric?

Pre-shrinking fleece is not always necessary. Since fleece does not shrink very much, pre-shrinking will have very little impact on the fabric.

If you are worried about shrinking, then you can pre-shrink your fleece as a precaution. This will give you a better idea of what the actual size of the fabric will look like. One benefit of pre-shrinking fleece is that it will give you a hint, on whether the fabric pills or not.

Pills occur when small bulbs of fabric build up on the surface after you’re fabric after washing.

It’s also a good idea to pre-shrink fleece if you will be using it to sew. This will allow you to adjust for any shrinkage and make sure that the item you are making always fits.

How Do You Keep The Fleece From Shrinking?

Most synthetic fabrics like fleece may seem very delicate but they are easy to care for. You have to follow simple instructions to prevent wearing and extending the life of the material. Here are stop tips to avoid shrinking fleece: 

Wash on warm or cooler. Never wash on hot water.
Use the gentle cycle 
Wash your fabric inside out 
Avoid using the high setting on your dryer
If possible air-dry polyester fleece when possible 
Iron on the lowest heat setting 
Avoid using steamers since the heat can cause permanent damage. 

Quick Tutorial To Undo The Effects Of Shrinking

Quick Tutorial To Undo The Effects Of Shrinking
How To Undo The Effects Of Shrinking
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s too late to prevent shrinkage. If you already shrunk your fleece then it’s here are a few things you can do to get your fleece back to normal.
First, it’s important to note that fleece and other fibers are intentionally stretched during the production process to increase its durability.

Stretch it out

When you shrink your fleece you need to stretch it out. To do this, you need to place your fleece into the tub or sink with lukewarm water. Add some shampoo or conditioner to your water. Let this rest in the water for 20-30 minutes.

Once completed, rinse it with water but do not wring it out.

Finally, hand the fabric and let it air dry

The air-drying process will help stretch out the fleece and get it back to the original shape.

How Much Does Fleece Shrink When Washed?

The degree of shrinkage that fleece experiences will depend on the textile blend. Full polyester PED blends will not shrink much when washed.

Other fleece blends may shrink more depending on the fabric combination.

Fleece shrinks the most when it’s combined with a natural fiber such as cotton or wool. With natural fibers, there will be much more shrinkage than 100% natural fleece.

Fleece will shrink much more if you use hot water. The hot water will cause the fibers to contract causing the material to shrink.

The hotter the water the more shrinkage the material will experience. Keep your water lukewarm of color to prevent shrinkage.

How To Shrink Your Fleece On Purpose?

Fleece has one major weakness – heat. If you want to shrink your fleece fabric or clothes all you need to do is expose it to heat. 

This can be in the washer or in the dryer.

If you intend on shrinking your fleece set your washer or dryer to its highest heat setting.  Fleece will shrink when exposed to temperatures around 150 degrees. Both the washer and dryer on high heat will produce enough heat to shrink your fleece. 

I recommend only using one method of shrinking your fleece. There is no need use both your washer and dryer. 

Different Types Of Fleece

Cotton Fleece

This type of fleece has a soft nap finish. Your sweats are usually cotton fleece fabric. It’s a breathable and cozy material, but not as warm as any fleece. 

This fabric has a smooth surface. It’s a material that’s sensitive to the skin, so several producers consider making reusable diapers made from fleece

Rayon Fleece

This material blend is more absorbent than cotton. The materials quality makes it easy to dye, often giving rayon fleece a wide, striking color choice. 

Fleece blended with rayon is soft and breathable, making it comfortable to wear. It’ll be an excellent addition to your closet because this fabric doesn’t easily pill unless you purchase the one made with short low-twisted yarns.

Polyester Fleece

The polyester fleece blend is one of the most admired variations of the material. You may have one of these as an OOTD sweater or as an autumn fleece garment. 

It is a reversible fabric having deep piles on each side. It has one shiny, smooth side; this material is exceptionally durable, but you need to be careful because it can get damaged by heat. 

This variation eliminates moisture better than the cotton fleece. What’s also right about this is it doesn’t pill like any other fleece type.

Hemp Fleece

Germophobes might love this fabric for its antimicrobial properties. It’s hard-wearing and can last through a frequent regular wash. 

This material has one part that has a smooth finish and a deep pile layer of fibers on the other side. This texture allows the material to be airy and exceedingly breathable. 

It’s soft because of the combination of cotton and hemp. Its long fibers make the material long-lasting and robust. The outer side of hemp is soft and doesn’t pill.

Bamboo Fleece 

When you buy cloth diapers, look for the ones made with bamboo fleece. The hemp makes this variation extremely absorbent. 

Bamboo fleece is from cellulose fibers of plant-based fabrics. 

Hemp is a stiff fabric, but when you combine it with bamboo, it loses its smell and becomes soft and flexible. 

Because this fabric is stretchy, fleece can be made into a lot of stuff: from yoga pants, sweatpants, blankets, and many more. 

Polar Fleece

No, this one is not from Polar bears. This fabric is 100% human-made. It’s a cushioning fabric perfect for the lining of jackets and sweaters. 

Unlike the previous types, it’s not moisture resistant, but it is still a warm fabric perfect for any cold weather. It is water repellent and dries instantly. 

Polar fleece tends to become rigid as you pick a thicker version of it. 

Blizzard Fleece

When you see your bathrobes, think about blizzard fleece. It’s a cheaper counterpart of polar type but still shares the same quality as the latter. This fleece variant is a dense material suitable for projects that require no seaming, like robes and sweaters. 

Faux Sherpa

This fabric is an imitation of actual sherpa fur. Often comes in white or ivory color to copy the color of sheep fleece.

 What differentiates this from other fleeces is its thick, curly, and bunched fibers on one side. They usually refrain from brushing and raising the backside of this fabric; instead, they blend it with suede and leather.

 Thin and pure Faux Sherpas can stretch but not enough to make a successful fleece pattern. Besides having this as your jacket lining, you can also dye this and create a wooly pet bed.

Microfiber Fleece

Microfiber Fleece

Compared to similar fleece, this variation is thinner. Given that it’s fairly light and soft, loose knitted microfleece is a suitable textile for baby garments. 

It’s probably one of the most flexible fleece types, which means the better movement for your sportswear, nightclothes, and baby cloth diapers.

Double-sided cuddle fleece

Double-sided cuddle or Double-sided microfleece is a snug fabric that can keep you warm and dry. If your body is a sweaty type, you might consider looking for this type because it’s moisture resistant.

 This fabric is a trustworthy material for coat linings and activewear. This double-sided fleece is not bulky and has a deep pile, which makes it look lavishing.

Micro chamois

Ultra-soft and lightweight are usually the defining characteristics of this fabric. It’s a fabric that prevents static electricity and has a velour finish giving it a smooth texture and anti-pilling protection. This fleece is not bulky, making it perfect for making underwear, cloth diaper liners, and baby blankets.

Anti-pill fleece 

Most fleece fabrics have little balls of thread on the surface or pills. These are usually the result of friction while washing or drying the fleece. 

 Anti-pill fabrics undergo treatment to be able to last longer without pilling than most fleece types.

Berber fleece

This fabric might be in one of your favorite vests. This type has a bit of a rough texture, similar to sherpa fabric. One side of this fabric is flat knitted, and the other one has curly fiber.

Although it is harder to sew than fleece, some people use it to make pillows and throws because it is warmer.

Windbloc Fleece

Windbloc is another type of fleece used to make sports apparel. This fabric is a double-sided water-resistant fleece that is soft to the touch. 

Lycra spandex Fleece

If you are a fan of tight-fitting clothes, you must have a lot of this kind of fabric. A considerable part of this fabric is cotton-made, and the lesser portion is the stretchy fabric or Lycra Spandex. 

 Lycra spandex suits most performance apparel because of the comfortable stretch it gives.

French terry fleece

Unlike most fleece fabric, they don’t brush the sides of French Terry. That is why it’s flat and not fluffy. French terry is thin and not as warm as other fleece types, but it hugs the body nicely, perfect for sweatshirts.


Properly caring for your clothes and fabrics can be difficult. Don’t stress anymore. Now, you have the information you need to properly care for your fleece and avoid shrinkage. 

Now make sure you care for it and don’t damage your fleece. 

I’m Jessica, mother of two and passionate seamstress. From a very young age, I’ve cultivated a passion for the creative arts, from drawing, sewing and now quilting. I saw it as a way to escape, to create, and above all, to please by offering my creations around me. The desire to pass on this passion has become more and more important, this is why I’m sharing my experience and my knowledge online.
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Jessica QuiltNCo


I am a passionate Quilter.
This means that I actually enjoy chopping up perfectly good fabric into little teeny tiny pieces and then sewing them all right back together again…
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

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