How to Shrink Polyester Clothes

How to Shrink Polyester Clothes

Polyester is a durable fabric that is usually a little harder to shrink in comparison to clothes made from cotton, wool and silk.

That being said, it isn’t impossible to shrink items made from this material, you just need to know how to go about this exercise properly.

Here’s how you shrink polyester clothes.

Polyester clothing is likely to take longer to shrink in comparison to other clothes. The reason for this is because polyester is a man-made fabric that’s a tad more resistant to shrinking. But as I noted above, it is possible to shrink your polyester clothes.

Here’s a quick tip before you start shrinking your clothes: find out what your items are made from. Why? Not all clothes you buy are going to be 100% polyester, a lot of them will be polyester mixed with another material. By finding out early on what your items are actually made of you can choose the correct shrinking method.

Typically, clothes that are made from a percentage of polyester and a percentage of another material don’t always need as much heat to shrink. 100% polyester clothing, on the other hand, needs extreme heat to shrink.

Method 1: Use a Washing Machine and Dryer to Shrink Polyester Clothes

Use Washing Machine and Dryer to Shrink Polyester Clothes

Using a washing machine to shrink your polyester clothing is by far one of the easiest ways! Why? In short, to shrink polyester you need heat. A washing machine offers you the exact type of temperatures that you need to shrink your polyester items.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Before you pop your item into the washing machine, turn it inside out – this will help to protect the garment from any colour damage. 
  2. Pop the item into the washing machine. 
  3. You need to select a very high temperature to wash your clothes on – 60℃ will do the job! 
  4. You need to choose a long cycle too. 
  5. If it’s possible, you should choose a hot rinse wash as well (instead of rinsing the clothes in cold water). 
  6. When the cycle has ended pop the item of clothing straight into the tumble dryer.
  7. Choose a long and hot drying cycle. 
  8. You should pause the cycle half way through to check the item over. 
  9. Continue the cycle afterwards.
  10. When the cycle has ended remove the item and check to see if it has shrunk enough.
  11. You can repeat the steps above once more if you need to shrink the material again. 
  12. If repeating the steps above still doesn’t shrink your item to your liking, you should try another method.

Note: It’s not essential to use detergent during this process, because heat and water are more than capable of shrinking your polyester items.


Method 2: Use a Washing Machine and an Iron to Shrink Polyester

Use Washing Machine and an Iron to Shrink Polyester

This method is suitable for those of you who are struggling with the method above, or for those of you that don’t have a tumble dryer.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Turn your item of clothing inside out.
  2. Pop your item into the washing machine. 
  3. Choose the hottest temperature to wash your item on. 
  4. Run the longest cycle possible, this includes doing a hot rinse too. 
  5. Prepare your ironing board, iron and ironing cloth in the meantime.
  6. When the washing machine has finished its cycle, remove the item of clothing and pop it on the ironing board. 
  7. The item should be damp at this point. 
  8. Keep the item in its inside out form. 
  9. Lay an ironing cloth over the item of clothing – make sure the clothing is covered entirely. 
  10. Fire up your iron and select a low-medium temperature – you don’t need the hottest temperature. 
  11. Move the iron slowly over the entire item of clothing, adjusting the ironing cloth as you go. 
  12. Keep ironing until the item is completely dry. 
  13. When you’re done ironing the item of clothing check it over. 
  14. If you still don’t see the desired end result and you’ve tried both Method 1 and Method 2, the item has probably shrunk all that it can. 
  15. If it’s absolutely essential that the item is shrunk even more, it may be worth speaking to a dry cleaner.


Method 3: Use a Pan Filled with Boiling Water to Shrink Polyester Clothing 

This is a fairly straightforward method, but you need to be very careful when handling the boiling hot water and the garments inside the pan.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Turn your item inside out and wash it on the highest heat setting and for the longest amount of time in the washing machine.
  2. In the meantime bring a pan of water to the boil on the stove – pick a pan that’s big enough to fit your item of clothing inside.
  3. When the washing machine finishes take out your item and pop it into the boiling water.
  4. Leave the item to soak in the water for 20-30 minutes – adjust the time according to the item’s size.
  5. Remove the item from the boiling water very carefully.
  6. You can either pop the item in the tumble dryer to dry or you can iron the item dry following the steps in Method 2.


Caring For Polyester Clothes After They Have Been Shrunk

Once you’re done with the shrinking phase, you then have to care for your newly shrunk item.

After polyester clothing has been shrunk to a desired size, it’s important that it stays at that size. One way you can prevent it from shrinking anymore is to wash the item in warm water only. In addition to this, air drying polyester clothes that have been shrunk is also a good idea.


How Do You Shrink Polyester Blended Clothing?

How to Shrink Polyester Blended Clothing

Blended clothes are items that are made up of polyester and another material. They should always be shrunk in accordance to what material the polyester is mixed with.

For example, if you have a 70% polyester and 30% cotton item to shrink, you will need to use a long hot wash cycle, followed by a hot drying session. However, times and heat settings should be adjusted to reflect the level of shrinking you need, and what material mixes you have.

You do need to keep an eye on blended items of clothing as they’re being shrunk because different materials need to be shrunk in different ways. Also, don’t be too disheartened if the material doesn’t shrink as much as you’d like.


Will These Methods Work on Pre-Shrunk Polyester Clothes?

Pre-shrunk clothes have already been shrunk, so that wearers don’t damage the clothes when they wash and dry them later on. It may not be entirely out of the question to shrink pre-shrunk polyester clothing, but the shrinking process may take a while. In a lot of cases, little to no shrinking is often the end result.


Final Thoughts

polyester clothes tips

While it may be tempting to repeat the shrinking process over and over again, it’s not recommended. Continuously shrinking your polyester clothes may cause irreparable damage to them.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that while the methods above will work out for a lot of you, the methods may not work for everyone.

Finally, shrinking any kind of clothing is risky, so be careful when you carry out the method(s) above. And if you do over-shrink your polyester clothes you’ll need to try and unshrink them in an appropriate way. To do this, read our guide on how to unshrink clothes.