Does Polyester Shrink In The Dryer? Wash at 60 or 90 Degrees

Sometimes you have to ignore the label. Clothing and fabrics come with laundry labels to make sure you do not harm the fabrics you buy and waste your money. But there are times when you need to ignore those instructions to make sure the clothing item fits again.

Does polyester shrink in the dryer? Yes, polyester can shrink in the dryer and it will melt if you have the heat over 180 degrees F. heat does not treat polyester very well. That is why the ideal washing temperature for polyester is 60 degrees C or 150 degrees F. But you can still wash them in 30 degrees C or 100 degrees F water as well.

To learn more about shrinking polyester, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need so you can either avid shrinking polyester clothing or purposefully shrink them. The choice is yours to make.

Is Polyester Shrinkable?


Yes, it is and it can be a two-step process to get the shrinkage just right. First, you need to wash the material in hot water no higher than 230 degrees F. Make sure to turn the fabric inside out and place it in a full load of laundry.

Second, move the polyester clothing to your dryer and turn the heat up to no higher than 180 degrees F. Also, keep the material inside out as this will protect the color on the garments.

There is one warning about this process. Shrink rates cannot be controlled so you run the risk of shrinking your polyester clothing too far. Do a test run on some old polyester clothing to see how much it will shrink before trying this process on your good polyester items.

When you try to purposefully shrink polyester, you are going to have to ignore the laundry label and its instructions.

Does 100% Polyester Shrink?

Normally, polyester is resistant to shrinking. That means under normal circumstances you can wash and dry your polyester items and not worry that they will be unusable when you are done cleaning them.

But there are special conditions that will break that resistance causing your polyester clothing to shrink in size. If you wash the polyester items in water that is too hot you can expect them to shrink. Keep the water temperature under 90 degrees C or 210 degrees F.

Some people say you can go as high as 230 degrees F but why risk it? If you are purposefully trying to shrink your polyester clothing, then you have to be wary of one danger.

If you go too hot you run the risk of melting or hardening the polyester material making them unwearable. Polyester is not designed to handle the heat and stay in top shape. Be careful when you are trying to shrink the material to fit your new size.

Does Polyester Shrink in The Wash?

Polyester is a man-made fiber and fabric that is supposed to resist shrinking. It was designed to stay at the size you bought it at as well as resist wrinkles. This design saves you money and time as you can skip the ironing chore when you own polyester.

However, polyester, as good as it is, is not a perfect fabric nor is it infallible. It has its limits to its resistance and if the water in your washing machine or the heat in your dryer gets too high, you will see some shrinkage take place.

When it comes time to launder your polyester items make sure to follow the instructions on the labels. That way your polyester clothing will stay in great shape and last you for many years.

If you are careful and hang up the polyester items right after washing or drying, you should be able to skip the ironing step in the cleaning process.

Will Polyester Shrink in Warm Water?


Normally, you should not have to worry about polyester shrinking in warm water. But there is always one exception to the rule and you may have a lower quality fabric that doesn’t like any heat at all and it will shrink.

Your results using warm water should be consistent with other people’s results as warm water is not that hot and should not affect your polyester materials. Then there is always that exception which can spoil a good day doing laundry.

When you are not purposefully trying to shrink your clothing, just follow the care label’s instructions and your polyester materials should come out clean and the same size they went into the washer and dryer.

Generally, though, you should not have to worry about using warm water. It helps kill germs and bacteria leaving the clothes healthy to wear. Plus, the colors should stay nice and bright as well.

90 Degrees vs 60 Degrees vs Boiling Water

In this competition, it would be best to translate the numbers to the same temperature gauge. 90 and 60 are measurements in centigrade and do not reflect the actual F temperature very well. To convert the temperatures you double the 90 and add 32. When you do that you get 180 + 32 which = 212 or the boiling point of water.

While you can wash polyester in temperatures up to 230ish boiling water will kill the germs and bacteria just as easily. 90 degrees C is the same as boiling water so there is no difference between the two temperatures.

60 degrees C is a little cooler and it equals about 152 degrees F, which is still warm enough to handle germs and maybe some bacteria. You are at a better level of heat using 60 degrees C., and will or should avoid shrinkage.

If you want to wash your polyester in ideal temperature levels then you need to set the dial to 40 degrees C or 112 degrees F.

What Temperature Does Polyester Shrink?

The best guess would be between 212 and 230 degrees F. It is hard to gauge as different qualities of the fabric will shrink at different temperatures. You should not wash polyester in water temperatures above 230 degrees F.

When you do you run the risk of ruining your polyester items for good. Real hot water will melt or harden the fabric and that is not a good fashion statement to make nor a good advertisement for your laundry skills.

Hopefully, your washer and dryer have a polyester setting on them. This will help you regulate the water and drying temperatures better and keep your clothing in top shape. Washing polyester is easier than other fabrics as it does resist shrinking and you have a little more leeway in its care.

Just make sure to turn the fabric inside out when you can when it goes through those machines. This will protect the fabric and the color so you continue to look good when you wear those items.

Does Polyester Shrink in The Dryer?


Yes, it can as dryer heat is not usually that good to polyester materials when it gets too high. Like the washer, if you go above the upper-temperature limit, you run the risk of melting the fabric or hardening it so you cannot wear it outside.

The highest temperature you should set your dryer at would be 100 degrees F. if you do not want to shrink your clothing. This may take polyester longer to dry but at least you will be able to wear the items proudly.

If you do want to shrink your polyester items, then you can set the temperature a lot higher but do not go above 180 degrees F. That boundary protects your clothing from being damaged or ruined beyond repair.

Careful laundry techniques help you save money by protecting your clothes and keeping them the original size you bought them at. Turning them inside out throughout the washing and drying process keeps them looking great.

Why Does Polyester Shrink?

This process has to do with how the fibers were made and if they are not heat set at the manufacturers you will find that those fibers will contract or shrink when in hot temperatures. The heat setting step is done at a higher temperature than the polyester will endure when it is bought by you or other consumers.

If your polyester items did not go through this step, then you will find that the material may shrink faster and easier than if it had been heat set. So the problem of shrinkage is on the manufacturer not on you.

Sadly, not all fabrics are made under the same strict standards and lower quality materials tend to be weaker than the higher quality ones. That means you will experience more shrinkage with lower quality polyester clothing.

Try to stick to higher quality polyester clothing so you can avoid those pitfalls that come with the lesser quality materials.

How Much Does a Polyester Shrink?

If you are purposefully trying to shrink polyester, make sure you know what you are doing. If you don’t you can easily ruin the garment and waste a lot of money. The amount of shrinkage will depend on the water and dryer heat levels you use.

Lower heat will shrink the fabric a lot less than a higher heat will. But you can expect to shrink the clothing about 1/4 to 1/2 size depending on the method you use. Also, polyester will shrink at a much lower temperature than cotton will.

If you do not want to shrink your polyester items then cold water and cool dryer heat are your best allies. Then if you do want to shrink the material, wash and dry them individually for the best results.

Remember, there is no control valve to stop the amount of shrinking so be careful and do not go too far.

Does Polyester Shrink More Than Cotton?


If you are careful then cotton fabrics will shrink more than polyester. Under normal conditions, polyester is designed to resist shrinking which means you will have better luck shrinking cotton than you will polyester.

A cotton-poly blend may not show any signs of shrinking as the polyester part of the material will keep the cotton in shape and its original size. Part of the credit for this lack of shrinking is the coating given to cotton to help it resist temperatures that would normally shrink the material.

The exception to the cotton-poly blend rule will be in how much cotton and how much polyester was used to create the clothing item. A 60% cotton and 40% polyester blend may shrink on you if you are not careful.

Too much cotton at the wrong temperature and you will kiss that favorite cotton shirt goodbye. The key is just to be careful and watch the water temperature. Then hang dry to avoid dryer heat.

Does Polyester Shrink When Dry Cleaned?

If the dry cleaner does his or her job properly then polyester should not shrink when handled by these professionals. Water is usually the culprit when it comes to shrinking materials.

During the dry cleaning process, water is not used, especially hot water, thus your polyester clothing should be safe in the hands of the dry cleaners. If you want to avoid shrinkage and the cost of dry cleaning, hand washing in cold water and hang drying are two good alternatives.

Those two methods are always the safest ones to use when you are not sure if your machines will shrink your nice clothing or not. Be safe is not wrong even when that safe method takes more time than other methods.

But if you can afford the dry cleaning then by all means protect your clothes and use your time for other important tasks.

How do You Shrink Polyester And Spandex

Spandex tends at times to stretch out of shape. When that happens it becomes vital to shrink the spandex polyester blend to get it back to its original size. To get started set your washer to the lowest water level possible and put your spandex poly clothing individually. You should be washing them one at a time.

Next, fill the machine to that level with hot water set at the highest heat level possible. Before putting thee spandex poly item in the dryer place it in a pillowcase so the clothing item is protected.

Now set the dryer to its highest levels and run through the cycle. Once the cycle is done let the item sit in the dryer for another 10 minutes. If they haven’t shrunk enough, repeat this process.

If they have, then wash them normally to set that shrinkage and keep them that way.

Shrink Polyester And Cotton Blend


This is possible but if you have too much polyester in the blend, approx. 60 40 and higher, then you probably will not see a lot of shrinkage, if any. The reason for this is that the resistance to shrinking in polyester protects the cotton fibers and keeps then in original shape.

But if the blend is the other way around, 60 40 + in cotton’s favor, then expect some shrinkage to take place. There is just too much cotton for the polyester to protect. If you have more polyester, then you will need to use very hot water to get the material to shrink.

Again with no control over the shrink rate, you either have to do this a couple of times or you may go to far.

How To Shrink Polyester Shirt or Jacket

One method in shrinking these clothing items is to soak then in hot water for a little while. This method is risky as if you soak them for too long you end up damaging the jacket or the shirt. Remember you may only get a 1/4 to a1/2 size smaller.

Another method would be to use the washing machine, its hot water setting, and the dryer and its heat settings. This is risky as you may get too hot of water or a too high of dryer heat, again damaging the clothing items.

Either method is full of risks and you may want to consider returning the item and exchanging it for one that does fit. It is the safest method of all the methods described here. Think this through first before purposefully trying to shrink your polyester clothing.

Some Final Words

Polyester may be an inexpensive fabric but it is still not good to allow them to shrink accidentally. Take the right precautions to protect your clothing and your clothes budget. Polyester does resist shrinking but that doesn't mean it won’t shrink under extreme conditions.

If you are trying to purposefully shrink your polyester items, then be careful and do it carefully. One mistake and the clothes are ruined and cannot be repaired.

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