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Does Polyester 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 Polyester Shrink, How and Why? Here are the Answers.

Polyester is a fabric that many people use for their clothing. It is known to be durable and resistant to shrinking and wrinkles. However, you may be wondering : does if polyester shrink? If yes, then how and why?

We will discuss all of this in this blog post so that you can be informed the next time you purchase polyester clothing!

You will also find a frequently asked questions section at the end of this post. Let’s begin!

What Is Polyester?

Row of variety multicolored casual shirts.

Polyester, also known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), is a synthetic fabric that is made from petroleum-based products. It is typically used in clothing and upholstery and is known for being durable and wrinkle-resistant.

It is also less likely to shrink than other fabrics in normal circumstances. The reason why polyester does not shrink as much as other fabrics is because it is a synthetic fabric. it is made of synthetic fibers that are less susceptible to shrinking when exposed to heat.

So now comes the big question :

Does 100 polyester Shrink ?

Yes. 100% 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 and when exposed to hot water. It is heat pressed, making it more resistant to heat than other fibers. 

However, 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.

Now let’s see in detail what causes polyester to shrink.

The Causes Of shrinking Polyester

Polyester fibers are resistant to shrinking. But they are not shrink-proof. Polyester shrinks because of three reasons: 


Polyester slightly shrinks when exposed to moisture. This type of shrinking is called relaxation shrinkage[1].  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

Blending polyester with natural fibers such as wool is called felting shrinkage[2].

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 can shrink the fabric upwards of 20%-25%, depending on the blend


Combining heat and water is called consolidation shrinkage[3].
It 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. 


How Much Does Polyester Shrink?

As stated above, 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. Obviously, 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.

Does Polyester Shrink More Than Cotton?

Synthetic fiber unders the microscope to answer the question: Does polyester shrink?

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

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

You might be wondering how much does cotton shrink? While there is no definitive answer to this question as the amount of shrinkage will depend on the type of cotton fabric, the weave, the weight and even the color, generally speaking, you can expect cotton to shrink anywhere from 3-5%. But it can shrink up to 20% in both width and length when it is laundered.

That being said, a  polyester-cotton blend will shrink more than a pure polyester blend.

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

At What Temperature Does Polyester Shrink?

Polyester experiences the most shrinkage between 155°F and 175°F. 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°F and 140°F.

Likewise, newer dryers can reach temperatures greater than 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Quick Tutorial

How To Shrink Polyester
On How To Shrink A Polyester Shirt
Thinking about shrinking that polyester shirt to the perfect size? Below are three easy ways you can do it!
Method #1: Boiling Water

I would say that this technique is my favorite to shrink polyester clothes. It’s pretty effortless. Here’s how:

  • 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.
  • Reverse the polyester garment.
  • Soak the garment in boiling water. 
  • Let sit for at least an hour.
  • Repeat the process until you achieve the ideal size
Method #2: Use a Dryer
Turn your garment inside out. 
Group your clothes based on color to prevent colors from bleeding to each other.
Wash your polyester at high temperatures, around 140°F.
Dry it at the highest temperature in the dryer.
Let it cool down
Let it cool down. Repeat the process if you want it to shrink some more.
Method #3: With a FLat Iron
Spread a soft cloth on your ironing board.
Wash the fabric in a washing machine with no drying cycle.
Dry it, but not all the way. It needs to be damp to achieve significant results.
Turn the fabric inside out. 
Place the material on the board. 
Place a cotton cloth on top of it.
 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 water. Use the cool to warm mode of your washing machine. Never use high temperatures. 
  • 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[4], place a cotton fabric between the polyester fabric and the iron. 

Speaking of iron, you might be interested in these articles :
5 Of The Best Rowenta Irons For Every Situation
The Best Cordless Irons For Every Situation

How To Unshrink Polyester?

You might be wondering if it is possible to unshrink or stretch polyester clothes. While repeating the operation too many times can damage you clothes, yes it is possible. You can read this blog post if you want to know how to stretch polyester.

People Also Ask

Does Polyester Shrink In The Wash?

Yes, polyester shrink in the wash if you are using hot water. It will experience some shrinkage at temperatures of at least 140°F. But it is more prone to shrinkage from 155°F to 175°F.

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

This can cause mild shrinkage in polyester when washing.

Does Polyester Shrink In The Dryer?

Yes, polyester can shrink in the dryer[5]. It will experience shrinkage around 140°F, 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.

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 the temperature reaches around 120 – 140 degrees. This may result in minor shrinkage.

Does polyester shrink when dried?

Polyester can shrink when dried, especially if it is not dried on a low heat setting. To avoid shrinking, polyester should be dried on a low heat setting or hung to dry.

Does polyester and spandex shrink?

Polyester and spandex are both synthetic fibers, and as such, they are less likely to shrink than natural fibers like wool or cotton. That being said, polyester and spandex can still shrink if they are not properly cared for. For example, if you wash polyester or spandex in hot water or put them in the dryer on a high heat setting, they are more likely to shrink.


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.Yo

If you’ve found this article useful, you might also be interested in the following articles:
Does Linen Shrink?
Does Modal Shrink?
Does Fleece Shrink?



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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