Does Acrylic Shrink? How to Shrink an Acrylic Sweater Easily

When you get smaller you would like your clothing items to get smaller with you. That means you have to practice the art of shrinking material without ruining it. This is not always easy as some fabrics just will not co-operate with you. You have to find the right method to get the task done correctly.

Does acrylic shrink? Acrylic can shrink if you apply enough heat to the fabric without melting it in the process. Washing and drying the acrylic material will achieve this goal and is the easiest method you can use. The shrinkage will be minimal in comparison to other shrinking fabrics.

To learn how to shrink acrylic without ruining it, just continue to read our article. it gives you as much information on this topic as possible. there are always risks involved when shrinking materials on purpose. So be careful when you follow any piece of advice on this topic.

Does Acrylic Fabric Shrink?

Yes, acrylic fabric does shrink and you may be able to get the item one size smaller if you are careful enough. It is a tricky road to travel due to the delicate nature acrylic has. If you apply too much heat, then acrylic tends to melt and become deformed.

The reason for that possibility is because acrylic is really plastic and not a real fiber. Plastic is melted by heat once the melting level has been reached. Depending on the thickness of the fabric that level can be reached very easily or not.

As with all other fabrics, shrinking has no controls when applied to acrylic. You are taking a big risk in having the material shrink too much. caution is strongly advised here.

Does Acrylic Yarn Shrink?


Yes, acrylic yarn can shrink but once it is made into a garment or blanket. etc., acrylic yarn tends to stretch when washed in warm water. It does not usually shrink when made into a hat, blanket, or similar knitted items.

But that does not mean the acrylic yarn will not melt. Once you have a completed knitted project you are not at liberty to use any heat level you want. You still have to wash it at recommended heat levels and avoid high temperatures.

Some people may get lucky and not have their yarn melt when drying at higher temperatures but those are generally the exception to the rule. The best advice we can give is to be careful as you never know your results until after you have completed the shrinking process.

Why Does Acrylic Shrink?

To answer this question, one reason has to do with the size and shape of the fibers used in making acrylic fabrics. It seems that if they are too long, too continuous, or even short, the material will shrink because the fibers just are not strong enough to handle the laundry process.

A second reason is one you may not want to think about because the answer is acrylic is really another form of plastic. if you have watched your kids put a lighter to their plastic toys, then you get a very good idea of what happens when too much heat is applied to the fabric.

The attempt to shrink the material ends up in a plastic mess that does not usually look very attractive. That is the problem when you wash synthetic materials like acrylic. They are not natural and the chemicals do not usually prevent this process from taking place.

Can Acrylic Shrink In The Wash?


Acrylic can shrink in the wash if you decide to use hot water over cold, cool, or warm options. High heat is not good for acrylic in any form which is why you may not see it recommended when you try to stretch the material.

Some heat is okay to loosen the fibers up but too much or too long of exposure means that you may not have your acrylic item looking like it did when you bought it. Normally, though cold or warm water washes do not harm acrylic fabrics.

You can wash acrylic like any other material as long as you watch which water temperature you use. make sure to read the care labels on all your acrylic items to avoid this situation. Being safe when it comes to fabrics is better than going out and spending more money to replace the ones that got ruined.

Does Acrylic Shrink in Cold Water?

No. Cold water is about the safest water temperature to wash any fabric. There are no real properties in cold water that makes it dangerous to fabrics or risky to use. if you read history at all, you will see that the ancient civilizations, and many poor societies in the modern age, used and use river water to wash their clothes.

While they could heat up the water over a fire and wash them that way, they too found out that option is not very good for some materials. Now only if they had acrylic fabrics back then as we could learn from their mistakes.

Use cold water freely and without worry. Even when washing acrylic materials.

Does Acrylic Shrink in Hot Water?


Yes, acrylic can shrink and hot water may kill germs and bacteria helping you to sanitize your clothing before it is worn again. But that heat level is not good for all fabrics, even white acrylic materials.

As you have already read here, the acrylic fabric is just another attractive form of plastic. To get plastic molded to the right shape one must add heat and make it a liquid form. The same principle applies to acrylic fabric.

If you want to change the shape of the acrylic dress or sweater, heat it up. We won’t guarantee you will have great results or even pretty ones but that is what you do. To wash acrylic keep the water temperatures warm or cooler. Do not go higher than that or you risk damaging the fibers and the article of clothing you are trying to clean.

Does Acrylic Shrink in the Dryer?

Yes, it can and we phrase our answer in that way as it is possible for you to use a no heat setting in your dryer or a very low heat option and avoid shrinkage. We also say possibly as all results are different and there is no one firm answer.

Where you get a firm answer is if you turn that dryer heat up high and put your acrylic items inside and turn the dryer on. Then yes, your acrylic items will come out smaller and in a different shape than they went in.

Hang drying out of direct sunlight would be your best drying option. While the sun may not get hot enough to shrink the fabric, its UV rays may do other damage to the fabric.

How Much Does Acrylic Shrink?


That is hard to say as everyone’s results will be different due to the many mitigating factors involved in the shrinking process. The best term we have been able to come across that describes the amount of shrinkage you can expect is minimal.

If it doesn’t melt or distort on you then you will see less shrinkage take place than you would with wool or cotton. One percentage figure we were able to find was 0.6% but that may not apply to fabrics but other forms of plastic.

Even dedicated articles on acrylic shrinking do not mention a percentage you can expect. It will depend on the quality of the material, how it was woven, if it was blended or not, and how high the heat you used.

How to Shrink Acrylic Yarn

The acrylic yarn has some interesting properties. It will not shrink if it is knitted into some type of clothing item or accessory when you wash it in warm water. The problem comes in that acrylic does not tend to shrink once it has been stretched out of shape.

That event is permanent and shrinking is out of the question when you want to return your favorite acrylic item to its original size. You can try heat but again the risks are apparent here as they are with other acrylic materials. The washer or dryer is your best option.

Do Acrylic Sweaters Shrink?


Yes, they can as acrylic is acrylic no matter what you do with it. But the good news is that they will not shrink when you wear it, get it wet or wash it in cool to warm water in your washer.

The trouble comes in when you decide to raise the water temperature or the dryer heat. While you may want to purposefully shrink your sweater that is not always a good idea. Like stretching, there are no shrink controls where you can turn that process off at the exact point you want.

Then the sweater may be chemically treated to resist shrinking. That will stop the process before it gets started. Check those labels to make sure the sweater can be shrunk or if it will shrink on you.

How to Shrink an Acrylic Sweater?

If the labels state that the sweater hasn't been treated to prevent shrinking, then it is a matter of applying the right amount of heat to bring the item down a size. If it has been treated then you need to get rid of the chemicals before trying to shrink the sweater.

Your best way to shrink a sweater is to use heat. That will loosen the fibers up enough for the material to reduce its size. Your dryer may be the best bet here. You can try using your iron but if the hot metal plate touches the fabric, it will melt the material and ruin the sweater.

We usually advise against purposeful shrinking because of the risks and lack of control over the process.

How to Shrink Acrylic Beanie?


The process for this option is the same as it is with all acrylic fabrics and clothing items or accessories. use heat and your washer or dryer are the best tools to use. The next section will have the step by step instructions not only for beanies but other acrylic clothing items and accessories.

How to shrink acrylic clothing items, etc.

Instead of repeating ourselves throughout this article, we decided to place one good method at the end that applies to all acrylic fabrics no matter what they are made into. here are the steps to do the job easily and hopefully with minimal risk:

  • 1. Place the acrylic item in a lingerie bag and if you do not have one, use a woman’s stocking. Close the bag or stocking up.
  • 2. Boil water on your stove using a large enough pot and enough water. Once it is boiled lower the setting to simmer.
  • 3. Place the bag in the hot water and let it simmer for 40 minutes.
  • 4. Once that time has expired remove the bag and wrap in a towel to remove excess water.
  • 5. Now put the bag in the dryer and turn up the heat to its highest setting. Run the bag through the full cycle. Once the cycle is over, then the acrylic item should be smaller in size.

A couple of words of caution here. One, use tongs as much as possible to protect your hands. Two, there is no guarantee that the garment will shrink exactly the same on all sides.

Some Final Words

When your acrylic sweater or other clothing item gets stretched out of shape, you may be tempted to shrink it. But that stretch is usually permanent and you would be wasting your time.

You can shrink non stretched acrylic items but you have to be careful when you do. The heat may do other things to those pretty clothing items and make you run to the store to get a replacement.