Search for:
How To Shrink Polyester

How To Shrink Polyester: Two Easy Methods

Polyester is one of the most durable (more durable than wool and cotton!) fabrics used for making clothes.

If you recently bought a garment or wish to reuse a not-so-used cloth and it doesn’t fit you well, you can try shrinking it to resize it and make it fit you well.

In the post below, we’ll share with you the two most effective methods for shrinking polyester — the wash and dry and electronic iron methods.

Does Polyester Shrink?

Polyester is a synthetic fiber known for its durability and resistance to shrinking. However, it is possible to shrink polyester using high levels of heat – especially when combined with moisture.

The temperatures needed to shrink polyester are 155°F – 178°F (68°C – 81°C).

Polyester blends – especially with cotton – are much easier to shrink than pure polyester fabrics.

Method 1: Washer and Dryer Method for Shrinking Polyester

NOTE: this method involves high heat, so we advise you to first turn your clothes inside out before placing them in the machine to prevent the colors from bleeding. Avoid placing multiple clothes together to prevent the color bleeding effects which are likely to occur at high temperatures.

  1. Put the garment to be shrunk in your machine and set it to the hottest water setting and the longest wash cycle. You don’t have to use any detergent in the shrinking process unless you want to wash your clothes as well. If you need to rinse the clothes afterward, use the hot rinse setting, as it contributes to the shrinking process.
  2. Immediately after the washing is complete, transfer your garment to the dryer and set it to the hottest and longest heating and drying cycles, respectively. The extreme heat in your dryer will do most of the shrinking.
  3. When done drying, pull the garment out of the dryer and give it time to cool to room temperatures. You can then examine your garment to see if the shrinking was successful. In the event that it didn’t shrink to your satisfaction, you can repeat the process again as outlined above.

Don’t attempt this process on your clothes too many times. Multiple trips to the dryer will make the garment lose its color (fade), newness, and overall durability.

Method 2: Electronic Iron For Shrinking Polyester

Like the washer and dryer method, the iron method also involves the use of high heat to shrink your polyester. However, the amount of heat used here isn’t as high as in the previous method.

  1. Start by washing your garment in hot water — set your machine to the hottest water cycle as well as the longest wash cycle. Be sure to use the hot rinse setting as well. Remember to put your cloth in an inside-out manner to prevent fading.
  2. After you’re done cleaning the garment, pull it out of the machine immediately and transfer it to the ironing board while still inside out.
  3. Cover your cloth completely with a pressing cloth before ironing it to help prevent the iron from damaging it.
  4. Now grab your iron and set it to medium heat. This is the ideal heat setting to prevent your polyester fabric from getting too stiff. Pass the iron over your clothing and continue ironing until your garment becomes completely dry. There’s no need to use the steam setting, as you only require a dry iron to dry out your fabric.
  5. Finally, examine your clothing to see if you’ve successfully shrunk it. If you followed the above steps carefully, you should end up with a smaller fabric that will fit you better than before. You can also fit the garment to ensure it fits you well. If you’re not satisfied with the process, feel free to repeat the process.

Just like the previous method, avoid performing the iron shrinking method on your polyester too many times or you may ruin its appearance and durability.


Shrinking polyester clothes might seem impossible due to the incredible durability associated with this material. However, you can get around it by exposing the fabric to extremely high temperatures of 155°F – 178°F (68°C – 81°C).

The two methods we’ve just outlined for you above involve using high heat to shrink polyester garments and make them fit you well.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve tried this three times already and it did shrink some but not as much as I wanted. I got the pants on clearance for 1.00 dollar so it wasn’t a loss really because they’re originally 15.00 dollars, but they only had a large size and I wear a medium mostly sometimes a small but depends on the fabric. These polyester pants are big on me but not nearly as big as they were before I washed it and dried it.

Comments are closed.