Does Polyester Shrink In The Dryer? (How To Care For It)


Does Polyester Shrink In The Dryer

When it comes to drying laundry, polyester needs to be handled with care. Your drying machine can handle many tasks, but if you’re not careful, you could end up damaging your clothes. Polyester can be found in many types of clothing and is known to shrink.

To prevent polyester from shrinking in the dryer, you must wash and dry it under 40 degrees Celsius. Any temperature exceeding this, whether you’re washing or drying, will cause the fabric to shrink. This is because of the polyester fibers that react similarly to plastic touching hot water – it shrinks.

Polyester clothing is ideal for those who want affordable yet attractive clothing. Luckily, we’ve taken the time to research the proper methods on how to prevent polyester from shrinking. Listed below are the following techniques for keeping your polyester in decent shape.

What is Polyester?

Polyester is frequently used in various clothing garments. It’s made from a man-made polymer of synthetic chemicals. This results in a healthy and durable fabric that retains its shape and color when washed correctly. Typically, polyester is mixed with cotton or other synthetic materials to create clothing.

Other benefits of owning polyester clothing are that the fibers are lightweight and durable. They are generally chemical-resistant and can dry effectively. For clothes, you’ll mainly see polyester blends in outdoor or sportswear.

Does Polyester Shrink?

You may be wondering, what causes the polyester fabric to shrink? The truth is, polyester is a very durable fabric but only shrinks under certain circumstances. If you learn how to wash polyester properly, chances are you can avoid the item from shrinking at all.

What causes the polyester fabric to shrink is how you dry the fabric. Polyester is already known to be fast-drying, but it may shrink when put into a drying machine. To avoid this, you’ll need to manage the temperature of the dryer.

If the polyester is mixed with another fabric, you’ll need to refer to the tag’s washing instructions. They will list all the necessary steps you’ll need to take to avoid shrinking the fabric. In some cases, you may not have the tag, or it will be ripped off. The next best thing is to follow our temperature recommendations.

How to Wash Polyester Fabric

The first step to preventing the polyester fabric from shrinking is learning washing machine brands to avoid. At times, the garment will have a care label with instructions on how to clean the material. These can be useful if you want to prevent shrinkage.

But, what do you do if the ink on the label is washed off? How about if you deliberately want to shrink the garment? Don’t worry, as we will provide the different methods you can use to wash your polyester fabric safely.

Step 1: Adjust the Load Size

One of the biggest mistakes we see people make is that they don’t adjust the load size. The load size helps the washing machine determine how much hot water to put in and at what temperature. Having too high of settings can easily cause the garment to shrink due to an overload of water.

Step 2: Turn Garments Inside Out

Polyester is a very delicate fabric, so turning the garment inside out can prevent damage. This is especially true of polyester-knit blends. Taking the time to flip all polyester garments inside out can also prevent fraying.

The reason this works is that polyester can get snagged and punctured. If there are other garments with sharp edges or zippers, they can catch on the garment. Fraying will begin to unravel the weaving.

That’s why it’s essential to either sort your laundry load or turn them inside out. Alternatively, there are washing bags you can purchase that are netted and prevent other clothes from tearing the fabric.

Step 3: Adjust the Water Temperature

If your washing machine can set the water, choose anything under 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature above that will result in the clothes shrinking. This is mainly due to polyester being a type of plastic. If exposed to hot temperatures, the fabric starts to melt and curl in on itself.

Some older models of washing machines don’t have temperature settings. Don’t fret, as you can always choose the ‘warm,’ ‘lukewarm,’ or ‘cold’ settings. Changing to these settings will help prevent the fabric from shrinking due to hot water.

For 100% polyester, you’ll want to wash it on the cold water setting. This is because full polyester garments are prone to shrinkage. If you want to avoid causing the garments to shrink each time you wash, then stick with cold water.

Step 4: Limit Time in Washer

Another method to ensuring your fabric doesn’t shrink to limit hot water exposure. Most materials will be washed and clean in 30 minutes. However, we urge you to check your washing machines user manual for the best washing times.

Polyester ends up shrinking with prolonged exposure to water. If you’re not washing polyester in cold water, then you’ll need to limit washes to 30 minutes. Check the washing instructions on the clothes for a better idea of how long to wash the garment.

How to Dry Polyester Fabric

Now that you have the polyester washed, you can begin drying it. Drying polyester is just a tad trickier than washing it. If you intend to use a dryer, here are the steps you’ll need to follow to dry your polyester clothes safely;

Step 1: Adjust Dryer Temperature

Just as polyester can shrink in the washer, it can also shrink in the dryer. You’re less likely to see a polyester shrink in the washer due to being able to change the water temperature. However, there are limited settings on most dryers.

To avoid accidentally shrinking your polyester fabric, you should adjust the temperature setting. Polyester won’t shrink as long as you keep the temperature below 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above that temperature and the garment will start to shrink.

Step 2: Adjust Dryer Settings

If you can’t adjust the temperature, then chances are you have some basic settings on your dryer. You can use a delicate setting to help reduce the amount of shrinkage. Whatever you do, do not use the bulky items set, heavy-duty dry, or quick-dry settings. These will end up shrinking your polyester due to their high-temperature settings.

If your washing machine has advanced settings, then you’ll be able to dry polyester without any issues. The most popular setting to prevent shrinkage is tumble dry. Alternatively, you can also opt to air dry your polyester garments. Air drying is the most successful method to avoid any shrinkage.

Step 3: Take Out Polyester When it’s Damp

One tactic to help prevent polyester from shrinking is to take it out before it’s fully dry. If you’re not laying your polyester out to dry for two to four hours, then you can alternatively try this. Take out the polyester clothing when they are still damp.

By taking out the clothes when they are still damp, you can avoid shrinkage, wrinkles, and static. You’ll know when the clothes are damp enough when you touch them, and they don’t feel wet but slightly cold.

Lay the clothes out on a flat surface, and be sure to flip them inside-out again. Allow them to sit for the next few hours until dry. This will prevent them from shrinking. We find that polyester dries quickest when it’s hung up, and there’s a nice breeze.

Related Questions

Does 100 Polyester Shrink in the dryer?

Yes, 100% polyester fabric is known to shrink in the dryer under certain circumstances. However, if you use the right methods, you can avoid shrinkage all together. The leading cause of polyester shrinking is washing or drying it at too high a temperature.

Shrinking occurs because polyester is made from man-made polymers. These synthetic fibers are sensitive to heat and water exposure. Aside from hot water, you should also avoid soaking the fabric for extended periods.

What temperature to wash polyester?

For polyester, you should wash the fabric at 40 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have full control over your washer’s temperature, you can put it on a setting that doesn’t exceed 60 degrees Celsius.

Can you purposefully shrink polyester fabric?

It honestly depends on what type of material you’re working with. If it’s 100% polyester, then yes. However, if it’s only part polyester, then shrinking it may be difficult. Sometimes dryers may not get hot enough and will need to be fixed.

To purposely shrink a garment, you can either soak the clothes in boiling water above 40 degrees Celsius or throw them in the washer on the hot water setting. Allow them to dry using heat settings as well. This should shrink the garment slightly.

Does Polyester Shrink or Stretch?

There is a lot of misinformation online, causing you to believe that polyester is a stretchy fabric. However, this is not true. Polyester is only stretchy if it is blended with another stretchy fabric. Many times, a garment made with polyester can stretch if it has some spandex mixed in.

Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of homeowners and home improvement enthusiasts who enjoy sharing decorating, gardening, home improvement, and housekeeping tips with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for advice on furnishing your living room or the next outdoor DIY project, we've got you covered.

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